There are three words that tend to apply to most parents, busy, tired and stressed…
Bringing up children is demanding and more and more people in the West are turning to practices rooted in the East, to help them cope with the demands of our busy family lives. As parents, looking for tools to manage being a full time, part time, single or married mum or dad, many are finding yoga can help to fulfil the need for relaxation and re-energizing.
Finding a yoga class that offers a good physical work out and deep stretch, along with a sprinkling of buddhist philosophy and a nourishing Savasana (relaxation), could be just the antidote we all need. After a manic day rushing from school runs to work, trying to fit in chores and look after everyones emotional needs, its not uncommon to feel that we are neglecting ourselves.
Yoga has many benefits for body, mind and spirit, from helping the body to cleanse toxins, encouraging mindful awareness of the breath, to finding our core peace and stillness, yoga feels good!
So how do you fit yoga into your already crazy, busy life?!
Here are a few hints for making a yoga practice work for you.
1. You don’t need to get to a class to practice yoga. There are now an abundance of resources online, free videos on Youtube, or sign up to Gaia or Eckhart Yoga for high quality streaming videos from teachers around the globe.
2. Get up early. Just 15 minutes of morning practice can make a huge difference to how you feel during the day.
3. Practice after bedtime. If an early start isn’t your thing, try getting on to the mat after the children are settled, instead of reaching for the wine or replying to emails, take some time for yourself to unwind.
4. If you used to practise yoga before children, forget how it used to work out for you then, now is the time to embrace a new way and find the flexibility to make this work around the children.
5. Do yoga with the children. There are lots of parent-children yoga classes popping up and they are great fun, or try to find something online. Yoga is really beneficial for children and can help them calm down after a tiring day, making life easier for you too.
6. Learn a few asanas (poses) and roll out a mat and stretch even if its just for 5 minutes during the day. Put off chores or phone calls and squeeze yoga in whenever you can, even if it is just Savasana!
7. See if you can get to a class while the children are also doing something fun. If your local gym offers yoga, perhaps the children could join a swimming class at the same time.
8. If you and your partner are keen on yoga, take it in turns. Commit to giving each other one evening a week each to go to a class or perhaps a Saturday morning.
9. Schedule a class, just like any appointment you might make during the week. Put it in the diary, on the calendar and if anything else crops up, tell people you can’t make it.
10. Remember yoga isn’t just an exercise. Yoga is hugely helpful in alleviating stress, so even if you feel unfit, inflexible or overweight, give it a try and see what it can do for you. Find a beginners class, speak to the teacher on the phone beforehand if you feel nervous and ask them for reassurance. Its important you find a teacher who resonates with you, so don’t be put off if the first class you go to isn't right, keep trying.
11. Don’t be discouraged. If you are trying everything you can to bring yoga into your life and it feels like a battle, don’t let it. Yoga is all about having unconditional love for who we are, complete acceptance of life as it is and a letting go of the expectations we set for ourselves. Don’t beat yourself up, being a parent is challenging and trying to do yoga isn’t meant to add to that. Relax, the space will open up in time and in the meantime 5 minutes a day is all you need.
Following these tips will help you begin to incorporate yoga into your life, allowing the benefits to help you to cope better with your little ones and feel better both inside and out. Enjoy!
Saira Francis runs Mellulah Therapy & Yoga Retreats offering yoga classes, holistic therapy and award winning retreats in beautiful rural locations around Dorset. Saira recently married, but for 14 years prior to that she was a single mother to her three children, yoga was undoubtedly her saviour! www.mellulah.co.uk