• How to Balance Motherhood, Yoga, and Everyday Life

    I get a lot of women asking me how I can possibly find time to do my yoga practice, take care of a baby, keep up with the house, and maintain my job and relationships all at the same time. I’ve had women tell me they are hesitant to have a baby because it just seems like too much for one woman’s plate.

    Well. It is. It’s a lot. There’s no denying that and I would be a total liar if I said I had everything under control all the time. There are days, sometimes weeks, when the only asana practice I can get in is sun salutations. My sink almost always has a few dishes in it. I definitely don’t teach as many classes as I used to. And sometimes I can’t help but lose my cool, collected nature and get carried away with stress or worry.

    But overall, I am happy. I have an amazing family, I get paid to teach yoga and write from home (or anywhere in the world!), I’m physically healthy and emotionally stable. I feel balanced, supported, and nurtured in my everyday life. And I owe much of it to these five principles I’ve implemented to keep myself centered and focused. If I’m off my game, there’s a high likelihood that it’s because I’m neglecting one or more of these very important foundational pillars of a balanced life. They really do work.

    And today I’m sharing my personal tools with you, to help you find that same balance and fulfillment in your own life as a mother (or future mother!).

    1. Set Boundaries. Say no when you need to. You don’t need to do everything all the time. You aren’t supposed to give endlessly to everyone else until you collapse from utter exhaustion. For a very long time, women have been taught to believe they must give 110% of themselves to both their work, household, and children everyday. How draining! I don’t even think it’s actually possible. So we need to honor that we, too, are human beings who need set boundaries on how much energy we can healthily pour out into the world. If there is an area in your life that is pulling away from your ability to thrive and serve simultaneously, honor your feelings and make a shift.
    2. Lighten your Load and Focus In. Practice minimizing priorities so you can be more fully present. For example, If I’m feeling overwhelmed and frustrated that there isn’t enough time in a day to do all the things I want to do, I pause. I focus on what’s happening in the present moment, and come back to prioritizing the bare minimum: family, health, and wellness. I ask, “What’s most important here? In this particular moment, here and now, what needs my attention most of all?” And then most of the time I realize my mind has wandered off into Stress Land and pulled me in a million directions, away from Right Here, Right Now: the peace and simplicity of the present moment. When I focus back into the present moment, I can relax about all the things that “need to get done” and enjoy myself again (and usually, consequentially, become more productive than before!).
    3. Set Aside “Me” Time. Treat yourself! This is so important. We need time away from the chaos to recharge. Think pure pleasure. What makes you happiest? Maybe a bath with essential oils and a cup of tea, a yoga class, massage, or dinner date with your girlfriends while someone else watches the kids. Maybe it’s a trip to the mountains or something else entirely. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it refills your cup and makes you happy… like you’re coming back home to yourself.
    4. Nourish your Body. Make fresh, healthy, complete meals everyday. Eat whole foods. Drink water and mineral rich herbal teas throughout the day. Practice yoga, stretch your body, take walks, get enough sunlight and enough sleep. I know I personally feel happier, healthier, and more capable of tackling the day when I’m consciously filling my physical body with the right nutrients. It’s imperative that my wellness is taken care of in order for me to properly show up to take care of everything else in my life. It means I play with my son more, I write and teach with more clarity, I get way more done around the house, and I’m overall more efficient.
    5. Ask for Help. You were never meant to do it all alone. Raising children takes a village. I would not be able to do all the things I do if it weren’t for my husband, my mom, and my friends. They are so so helpful and always there when I need a break (my “me” time!) or a few hours of uninterrupted writing time. We’re social animals; we all need to rely on other people sometimes. If you feel like you need more help, get it. Ask your partner, your mother, your best friend, anyone. If you’re lonely, reach out and make play dates. Find a strong community of women to be a part of, and get the support you need. We’re all in this together!

    That’s it, ladies! I hope at least one of these tools resonates with you, and I hope you take the time to implement it. By focusing on these five areas, you’ll notice more free time in your day to achieve your goals, more energy in your body, and greater love and gratitude in your heart. You are always welcome to send questions, comments, or concerns my way. I am here to support. <3

    For love, with love.

    By Emily O’Brien

  • Entering Motherhood? How Yoga Can Help You Prepare

    Prenatal yoga has come to help many women through pregnancy, birth, and being with their newborns. It can help you feel less frightened about motherhood by helping you become aware of the intense connection you have with your baby already; when you’re able to understand and feel that connection, there is no greater power. Plus, there are poses that can be done safely at any stage of your pregnancy, and it helps you relax, which puts the baby inside of you more at ease.

    Practicing Meditation

    Meditating involves creating stillness throughout your entire being. Usually, this type of stillness only occurs when you sleep, but it’s important to commit to plenty of stillness when you’re pregnant. A yoga practice can assist you in your quest to find peace and tranquility within, and it is the gateway to creating a stronger meditation practice.

    Additionally, yoga relaxes the space of refuge in which your baby resides, and helps you to send warm, energetic love to your little one. If you are able to spiritually tune in, you can really sense your baby. That awareness makes you feel incredible love and knowing. We already know that baby can hear music, so it must be true that they can sense the love and safety you are sending them.

    Yoga Helps You Gain Strength for Child Birth

    While the poses you do in yoga are gentle, they do slowly build up your strength at a deep level. You will need to withstand a great deal of pain during your delivery. As you know, labour can be a marathon and it’s very hard on the body. The baby also goes through this intense process with you. When you’re more relaxed due to physical and mental strength, you are more able to focus on the intention of bringing your baby peacefully into the world.

    Giving Yourself Space to Connect with the Baby

    Yoga and mindfulness are deeply connected. When you practice yoga and breathe into the poses, you can also mentally breathe loving energy and thoughts to your baby. Taking time out to be with your baby and connect with him or her at a deep level is good practice. There are a lot of unknowns when you’re entering motherhood. Feeling the energy within you and getting to know your baby before it arrives makes it a lot less scary, and helps you relax into the process.

    Your Baby Connects with Yoga

    When you go into certain poses, it’s actually helpful for your baby. Downward dog is an example of this. When you go into a pose that puts you upside down and takes pressure off your organs, you may also be putting your baby upside down.

    The direct benefits don’t occur until you attend mom and baby yoga later, but your baby will have remembered the feeling of being upside down and will respond well in the yoga class. It’s not such a foreign idea for your baby because you’ve already put them in similar position.

    The Benefit of Yogic Breathing

    Breathing deeply is going to calm you down and help you feel more relaxed emotionally, physically, and mentally. The baby feels everything so when you can relax, you give baby the safe space it needs. Certain breaths can help to slow down your heart rate so your body naturally relaxes. Your heartbeat is the soundtrack your baby hears over and over. Offer baby soothing music.

    To practice breathing for the time you’ll be going into labour, you want to be well versed in your breathing techniques. Deep breathing into the belly and the chest mimic some of the breathing you’ll need to do for when you’re in labour.

    Gaining an Awareness of the Body

    Yoga helps you get to the point where you know your body well. You understand what is tense and what areas are loose and relaxed. If you practice even just a little every day, you can put out fires in the body and ensure that all tension is released. You also become aware of the emotional tension that arises which is important when you’re pregnant. Many expecting moms have a lot of anxiety.

    Yoga and the act of mindfulness allow you to gain better insight into why the anxiety is there. You can sit with discomfort and still live with an open heart. The beautiful part of it is you can look to your unborn child and find peace. This takes some practice but it really helps you find the courage to relax into your future.

    The Baby and Mom Connection

    Many times, women will experience deep depression and anxiety once the baby is born. They will feel terrified that they won’t do the right things. If you experience post-partum depression, it can become a terrible cycle of loneliness and terror. This is where yoga really helps an expecting mom.

    Yoga helps create strength within you at all levels. When the baby does come, you’ll be able to find the strength and peace within yourself. You will understand that you’re never alone and that you are always connected to the source, the spirit, the higher energy. When you can be the peace for your baby, you are contributing to his or her sense of security too. You can accept when something didn’t go quite right that you are both learning and are just humans. You let go of imperfection which can be a major source of your anxiety.

    Maybe your baby has eating problems, experiences discomfort or doesn’t sleep well. Self-blame doesn’t improve the situation. Be in the moment, relax into it and remember what you developed within your yoga class.

    By Meera Watts

    Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)

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