I have been getting back into a yoga practice. It is one of the few forms of exercise that works with the schedule of a three month old. The other forms are the Jillian Michael’s 30-day Shred (or some other equivalent), and walking outside in the B.O.B if it isn’t 90+ degree weather (which it hasn’t been for about a month so forget that.) I have found it to be rewarding physically--getting back both my strength and flexibility, but also mentally as the mantras repeated by the instructor seem really applicable to my life right now.
Accept where you are today and at this moment
The instructors always mention that Yoga is not a competition--you should honor where you are today. So, just because you were able to do the full version of revolved side-angle pose yesterday, does not mean you are going to be able to today, and that is o.k.
I strive on structure. I like knowing what the plan is for the day. If I don’t have a plan, I tend to get anxious and stressed. In moments when I feel overwhelmed, I can usually be restored to a sense of calmness if I make out a mental plan of the circumstance. I tried this technique when I had a newborn and......it didn’t really work so well. Newborns don’t work within a schedule. They sleep, eat, and wake, at random, unpredictable moments of the day. This meant that my life was in a state of complete flux. It was incredibly frustrating. However, I repeated this mantra in my mind--forcing myself to accept the moment. If, Baby F. slept much longer than normal during his morning nap making me miss my weekly mother’s group---I tried to accept the moment. This is what Baby F. needed today. He needed sleep. I could try to go to group next week.
It has also allowed me to be more forgiving towards myself. Some days I just don’t feel up to everything I have mentally planned for the day. Honoring where I am in the moment can mean that I accept the fact that I need to take it easy.
Let go of that which does not serve you
I am very prone to feeling guilt. I can feel guilty about almost anything. Add motherhood to the mix, and I can beat myself about everything and anything. “I don’t play with my son every waking moment--I am a bad mother.” Ad infinitum. Letting go of that which does not serve me means that I don’t cultivate these negative thoughts. These negative thoughts--whether true or not, do not make me a better person and should be discarded. It does not help me to hound myself on all of my perceived faults.
Do not over effort
This is about finding balance--the balance between effort and release. The balance between forcing an issue or just letting things happen. Sometimes the instructors will talk about “gentle effort.” I like that idea. Currently I am trying to balance “being productive” vs. relaxing and playing with my son.
Really, what I like most about these mantras is that there is no end to their application. They adapt to any needful scenario-not just motherhood. They are just good principles by which to live.
A yoga note:
The yoga resource I use most often is Yogatoday.com. There are three instructors and the classes are an hour long. For about a year, it used to be completely free, with new classes every day plus a weeks worth of previous classes to choose from. It was awesome. Now, there is just a free class every week. The free year did its job by hooking me in, so now I actually pay the monthly fee with allows access to all of the of the classes.
I feel like the classes are really great quality--similar to a studio class and much better than any yoga DVD I have come across. While you don’t get the personal attention like you might at a studio, you also have to flexibility to do it at any time or place. My favorite instructor is Adi. She does an Ashtanga based practice. I feel like her classes give me the best workout. Next, I would recommend Sarah. Sarah’s classes are a mixture of different kinds of yoga. Sometimes she does a Kundalini practice, other times it is similar to Ashtanga, and then sometimes it is just a basic Hatha practice. I typically avoid Neesha’s classes. She “smiles too much” and is really quite flighty.
If you have a good yoga resource, let me know! I am always on the lookout for something good.