Before I became a mother, my yoga practice took a front and center seat in my life. I practiced daily, and spent at least two hours on the mat each time. I enjoyed my time on the mat, finding peace of mind while moving from asana to asana.
They say that a child changes you in significant ways. Your priorities shift as you learn to care for another person other than yourself, and suddenly, yoga takes a backstage.
Even though I am a certified yoga teacher, in the early months of motherhood, I found myself having no time for yoga. Between working as a full time marketeer and tending to a crying child, my hands were (quite literally) full. But as the months passed, I slowly found time for the mat again. Be it 5 minutes or 50 minutes, I make it a point to step on the mat everyday.
If you, like me, struggle to find time to keep up your yoga practice when you have kids, here are three essential tips that I hope will help you to continue to deepen your practice:
Make Your Practice a Priority
If you keep waiting for ‘the golden hour’ to appear, it might never come. So each day, in between chores and child, find some time to just step on the mat.
If you have only 5 minutes to spare, that’s okay too. Your practice does not have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to finish an entire Ashtanga sequence to call it a good yoga practice. Any time on the mat is good.
My favorite time to do yoga is in the afternoon during those two hours when my child is napping. Sometimes, I may be able to practice an entire hour and that is enough. But sometimes, as luck would have it, he wakes up prematurely and my practice is cut 20 minutes short – but of course, that’s also fine.
Include Your Child in Your Practice
Whenever possible, include your child in your yoga practice and practice with them. Yoga is a wonderful way to bond with your child while setting an example of health and mindfulness. Practice as they play alongside you, and interact with them as they look for your attention. And teach them a few poses! There are tons of mom and toddler poses to test out together.
My son is at the age where he’s interested in animals, so I teach him yoga poses with animal names and encourage him to keep an eye on me as I do them. As they get older, incorporate yoga in their daily lives by enrolling them into kids yoga classes so that they can better understand the practice.
Make your practice into a time of bonding with your child so that it doesn’t have to be a choice between time on the mat or time with your children.
Practice Other Aspects of Yoga
A yoga practice doesn’t just mean asana practice. In fact, asana is only one of the eight limbs of yoga. When you’re feeling tired and down, and stepping on the mat is the last thing you feel like doing, practice other aspects of yoga.
Pranayama, or breathing, for example, is a good element to incorporate into your daily life. There are different types of yogic breathing that you can practice, including nadi sodhana and ujjayi pranayama.
If you’re pressed for time, just sitting in silence and quieting the mind for a few minutes a day will be good enough. Breathing and guided meditation are a great accompaniment to asana practice as they will help build focus and clear the mind – something we all need in life.
Elaine is a rookie yoga teacher and a mom to an energetic toddler. She spends her days juggling baby, work, and yoga – in that order. She explores the Downward Dog and the Cobra with her toddler, who thoroughly enjoys being on mama’s mat.