Redefining your yoga practice now that you’re a parent
Not too long ago, this was my morning routine: Wake up around 5:30am. Practice yoga for 60-90 minutes. Walk the dog. Then head off to work. I loved starting my day with time to myself when distractions from my sacred yoga practice were almost non-existent.
Now things are a little different. With a two-year old, a baby on the way and a growing business, my yoga practice is often squeezed in here and there. And a 90-minute practice on my own is almost a laughable concept. When I first had my daughter, I tried to designate her nap time, my only “free time,” for my yoga practice. I wanted nothing more than uninterrupted time to myself to get into my meditative zone, but nap time does not always equate to free time. Distractions were everywhere and I was often left feeling unresolved and frustrated.
Now a mother veteran (does 2+ years make you a veteran?), I’ve had to redefine my yoga practice. While, yes, this is still considered a sacred time and there are some occasions when I can get into a very deep practice without interruption, parenthood has brought to a place that I can honestly say feels more “yogic” and balanced than the strong, maybe even unhealthy, attachment to my practice that I previously had before my daughter. To get to this balanced state, here are some things I discovered while redefining what a yoga practice means to me.
Your practice can be shared
Sure, we love to practice on our own, and when we have a developed home practice, there’s nothing like escaping from the madness that can be parenthood. But if you have to roll out your mat in the living room while the kid(s) are watching TV or playing, do it! It might inspire them to join along or just be curious about this amazing thing that mom/dad is doing.
Don’t get frustrated about interruptions
Yes, it’s going to happen. Your husband or wife needs to talk to you about dinner NOW because they are at the grocery store. Or your little one is finally napping, but 10 minutes later he is wailing because of a dirty diaper. It’s going to happen and the breath work that we practice during our yoga class isn’t just to center us during our practice. It’s a tool that can help transition us calmly from the yoga mat to the diaper explosion.
15 minutes on the mat is a yoga practice
Trust me. Your day will feel better if you’ve done a some sun salutations and maybe even a few other stretches and conscious breathing than if you’ve done nothing at all.
Remove the guilt of wanting time to yourself
There are mornings when your partner is home and everyone is relaxing and you feel required to be there with the family, but all you’re thinking about is going to a yoga class. If your partner can stay with the kids, then GO! If you come home feeling better than you did before you left, your entire family will benefit from you taking a little time for yourself.
Bring an instructor to you
Don’t have time to ever make it to a class or don’t know how to practice yoga without the guidance of an instructor? This Hudson Valley is flooded with amazing yoga instructors who would be happy to come to you and work around your schedule to help you develop a home practice. It might seem costly, but if you work with a private instructor once or twice a month, it could be the monetary equivalent (and more valuable) than going to a group class once or twice weekly. You could also find online classes (if you’ve never practiced yoga before, I highly recommend working with a teacher in a class or privately at least once to familiarize yourself with postures to avoid injury).
This is a basic concept of yoga philosophy that is beyond applicable here. Had an idea of what your perfect yoga practice should look like? Let it go. Think you need 90, even 60 minutes every time you come to the mat? Let it go. In yoga there are the balancing concepts of aparigraha and vairagya. Aparigraha is a dedicated practice, such as a regular yoga practice, and vairagya means detachment or not getting so attached to your practice that you become obsessed and miserable if it doesn’t live up to your expectations. The balance, while conceptually simple to grasp, can be incredibly challenging to apply to your life, especially as a parent. And your everyday life is where the true yoga practice takes place; not necessarily on the mat, but applying the concepts and ideas of contentment and love to your ever day living.
Jacqui Nash is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through the Yoga Alliance and is the co-founder of The Yoga House in Uptown Kingston, where she teaches yoga and co-leads the Yoga Teacher Training program. As a mother, wife, yogi, foodie, student, teacher, and outdoor adventurer, Jacqui shares her thoughts on how yoga influences all aspects of her life on her website and blog, The Babbling Lotus.