How New Parents Can Keep up their Personal Practice
I was completely unprepared for the total lifestyle shift of becoming a mom. Those first few days and weeks postpartum were a major shock to my system. My body felt completely foreign to me, my days were no longer my own, and I wondered if my life would ever get back to “normal.” I quickly realized I had to drop the notion of “normal” and instead embrace the reality that everything was new, including my personal practice.
Motherhood has challenged me and changed me in the most painful and beautiful ways. It feels only natural to allow my yoga practice the space to evolve as well. I’m not interested in “getting my body back” or “getting my practice back.” I’m interested in meeting the newness of every moment with curiosity and exploring how I can create a practice that best supports and nurtures the new woman and mother I’ve become. These 5 practices have supported my ability to continue my ongoing relationship with my personal practice.
Ask For Support.
Creating the time and space for a personal practice is no easy task as a busy parent. So much attention is placed on our children, that it’s easy to neglect our own needs for self-care. Calling on a spouse, partner, relative, friend, or other part of your support system makes it a lot easier to schedule in some mat time. My partner and I have a deal where we each get 30 minutes of uninterrupted time a day to do our own home practice. We both understand that it makes us better parents and partners when we create the space for ourselves to breathe and move our bodies.
Include Your Kids.
My yoga mat is like a magnet for my little one. He loves the texture and color and uses me as his personal jungle gym whenever I’m on it. Instead of getting frustrated by his curiosity, I simply include him in my practice. I lie on my back and do core work by lifting him with my legs. When he’s on his tummy, I follow his lead and work on poses like locust, cobra, and upward dog. Working on “tummy time” together is an incredible antidote to the hunched position I find myself in from toting around a child on my hip and breastfeeding for hours on end.
Getting to a studio can be a challenge, so rather than skipping my practice altogether, I practice with teachers I love online. There are so many different online platforms to choose from and many monthly subscriptions cost less than the price of single yoga class. Even though I’ve been teaching yoga for years, I love being guided as a student. It gives my brain a break to follow someone else’s lead and helps bring more flow and creativity into my practice.
Live Your Yoga.
If you define yoga only as a structured place, time and postures, you’ll have a challenging time creating a home practice as a parent. Instead, it’s helpful to reframe your yoga as a life practice. Some days you may only have time to take a few deep belly breaths, and the practice is to let that be enough. I know my home practice is working not by the poses I can get into on any given day, but by how I respond to difficult situations that arise in my life. I used to set physical goals when I first started practicing yoga, but now my goal is to explore how present, loving, and compassionate I can be with myself and my family.
We missed our very first pediatrician appointment after my son was born because I underestimated how long it would take to pack a diaper bag, get out of the house and loaded into the car with an infant. It was a rookie mistake that instantly spiraled me into mom guilt. I learned very quickly that becoming a mom requires a whole new level of flexibility, patience, compassion, and non-attachment. It’s the same with our yoga practice. Despite my best effort to give myself 30 minutes a day to practice, some days that simply doesn’t happen. My home practice looks different every single day, and that’s ok. Let go of the need to define your practice and instead let it unfold without attachment.
Liz Arch is the founder of Primal Yoga, the West Coast Director of Purple Dot Yoga Project, and the author of the new book The Courage to Rise, a hopeful and sensible guide for healing unresolved manifestations of trauma holistically through movement, mindfulness, and healing foods: lizarch.com.