Moms are often told they have to be all and do all. The truth is, you can only be successful in so many areas of your life at a time. I know this sounds defeating. So many authors and influencers try to drill into our brains that we can learn to be superwomen that juggle a million and one things if we buy their guide on how to do so. They insist that we are simply not using the right formula.
Well, I have news for you. You can NEVER be 100% in all areas. And if you ever get close to managing that many things at once, you’re probably not emotionally stable. You can not be meal prepping every week, working out daily, running a blog, involved in community service, hanging out with all your friends, attending every school event, participating in every church retreat, having the house cleaned 24/7, cherishing every moment with your child, couponing, crafting, having regular date nights with your spouse, etc. all the time. Something has to give. You can’t do it all. But you can do less, make it mean more.
Sometimes I feel like my quiet time with God is at top notch and I am so intimately close to him. Other times I feel more distant from him. One week I feel my house is really tidy and I’m killing it at staying on top of chores. Yet, other times I’m more focused on going out with friends and I delay doing the laundry. Life is all about ebb and flow, this is natural.
There is always some chore we moms will be behind on and there will always be some area we could self-improve. Motherhood is about the art of balance. Not balancing it all, but balancing how much we sign up for. How much we say yes to.
There is such a trend toward embracing “the power of no”. This trend is in response to our obsession with doing it all at once and posting updates on social media on how well we are doing it all. We have albums on facebook for each vacation we managed to save up for, each kid we spend quality time with, each milestone we have hit. Instagram lets us organize our “stories” so we can display that we have good taste in music, we take fun road trips, and we also dabble in photography of sunsets.
This balancing act can drain us mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s important to set boundaries.
Based off of those realizations, Suzannah Neufeld wrote this excellent source for moms: Awake at 3 a.m.: Yoga Therapy for Anxiety and Depression in Pregnancy and Early Motherhood https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075615Z4W/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_-EDiEbTQ0E3S8
The author talked on a podcast about how her book is simply an invitation for moms to take time for themselves. The last thing she wants is for the book to feel like another obligation or thing added to a to do list. Even doing a few minutes of breathwork or doing one pose as the baby sleeps is considered a win.
Just take some dang time for yourself, lady! You deserve it.
Why yoga of all self care routines? I’ll get to the scientific reasons in a bit but first I will share why I am addicted to it.
Yoga is so versatile with a little something for everyone! You can choose between a fast paced vinyassa, a gentle restorative practice, or a mixture of the two. Here is an example of a yoga practice called “synchronize” and it heavily focuses on breathwork as opposed to a lot of poses: https://youtu.be/LGEMzfXfj-g
The main concept of yoga is finding out where we are and meeting ourselves there with no judgment. Tight shoulders? Heavy heart? Yoga can help.
It is about showing up and being grateful we set time aside to work on ourselves. No matter how that may look or feel at the time, the act of simply doing something for ourselves is a powerful step in the right direction. Yoga is not about forcing poses or pushing ourselves beyond what we can do. If we allow, it can be more of mental and emotional work than physical.
As Adrienne from https://yogawithadriene.com says, it is about getting to that comfortable edge. In other words, don’t focus on what you can not do but focus on what your body already can do. Play with that and have fun! Then you are guaranteed to leave the mat happier then when you stepped on.
Yoga makes me feel empowered and strong. This is not because I can do fancy poses because I’m actually quite inflexible. Just by doing SOME type of movement vs. opting for netflix on the couch, I am making progress.
There is something in us that resists change and growth and that is what the quiet of yoga requests of us. That we take time for ourselves to be calm and focus on how we feel. It can be downright uncomfortable at the beginning. But I promise you that if you stick with it, you’ll come to crave your practice. You will want that daily reset from the world.
I used to think 15 minutes was a long time to be doing yoga. I thought it was too slow paced to be beneficial. Boy, was I wrong! Now my 30 minutes zoom by and I’m still thirsting for more time on my mat. It’s definitely my happy place.
Here’s a few benefits of yoga:
-Stretching improves flexibility. Flexibility is important because our body is one whole working part. For instance, if your knees hurt, it impacts other parts of your body. No area is completely independent.
Yogajournal.com explains it this way: “Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.”
-It relieves common aches and pains from the every day by “working them out”. Yoga is not only a workout for the body but also a massage for the soul. It helps you to let out any frustration you are gripping. Moving the body is shown to release locked up emotions.
“Yoga is not only a workout for the body but also a massage for the soul. Moving the body is shown to release locked up emotions.”
-Lowers cortisol levels, leaving you happier. Likewise, it increases serotonin levels and is often used to treat depression.
-It allows you to bring awareness to your body and breath. Yoga helps you to master the art of checking in with yourself. You will be able to better understand your emotions in a stressful situation because you will know how to pause and asses your breath. Is it shallow? Is it rushed? Maybe you are feeling anxious. Explore that. What you learn in yoga practices goes far beyond those walls and can travel with you into the every day.
-GABA was shown to be significantly higher in the brains of those subjects who had been doing yoga. The study also compared GABA levels directly before an after an hour of yoga, and showed a 27% increase! What is GABA and why should you be excited about it? GABA is a neurotransmitter that produces a calming effect in the brain. Those that suffer with depression, panic disorder, anxiety, and seizures often have low levels of GABA.
-GABA released over a period of regular yoga practice may boost baseline levels of this calming chemical. This could help the brain rewire itself to have a calmer, less anxious response in the face of everyday stressors. Heck yes, I’ll take a large dose of GABA please!
-Improved respiration, cardio health, and energy levels. Who does not want more energy?! After all, we are the society that bonds over coffee shop conversations and sport shirts that say things like “full of faith and caffeine”.
We have the busiest schedules jam packed with activities and take little time for rest. Yoga is rest and an energy boost packed in one! It lets you have moments of guided breathing to restore yourself before you go back into poses that get your blood flow going.
-Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown by taking joints that wouldn’t typically be used through a full range of motion. This squeezing and soaking of cartilage allows the joints to receive fresh nutrients. Without this, cartilage wears down.
-Protects your spine by giving it the movement it craves.
-Yoga drops blood pressure.
-Consistent meditation increases grey matter in the brain. Grey matter includes brain regions involved in muscle control, sensory perception, memory, emotions, speech, self-control and decision-making.
-Daily meditation reduces inflammation, anxiety, and stress. It also improves sleep.
-Twisting the abdominals helps reignite the digestive system, and can help prevent a sluggish tummy
-Yoga twists increase circulation and bloodflow to organs.
-Roughly 80% of visits to primary care doctors result from emotional distress, and a recent study demonstrated that workplace stress accounted for up to 38% of differences in longevity across workers in different professions. Again, yoga has been shown in a plethora of studies to reduce stress and decrease the likelihood of disease.
-Dr. Ryan Hall of the University of Central Florida has found that as many as 47% of problems for which patients seek psychiatric treatment have a physical cause.
Through physical postures in yoga, you can reflect on how your heart feels AND strengthen your muscles, tone your body, build your strength and endurance, etc. Beachyogagirl on instagram has talked for years about how the ONLY relief she has found for her fibromyalgia is a daily and regular practice of yoga. She also discusses how her depression was interlaced with her disease.
-Yoga increases blood levels of oxytocin, a hormone that helps the brain tune in to subtle social cues and promotes social bonding. Simply put, yoga makes you feel happier and more likely to seek out experiences with people that increase your happiness further. When we feel good and strong, we feel more confident. We are less likely to isolate ourselves and more likely to seek out more of what feels good for us-social interaction. That is why yoga is so useful against combating depression. My positive psychology professor held that it is impossible to be depressed and have a regular workout routine.
Adrienne likes to say that yoga makes us all connected. She says that she practices in her corner of the world while we practice in our corner but we are all getting better together. We are all in this together.