Sat Naam Yoga MamaIf you're like me, integrating my yoga practice into my family life has been a learning process. I've learned some things along the way about being a yogi and a mama that I want to share with you. Here are my top 3 tips for getting your yoga on as a mom.
- Acknowledge that your spiritual practice is monumentally important: As my friend put it to me when I first gave birth to my oldest son: "put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others." In other words, the people in your life who rely on you, need you to show up. Without a foundation of spiritual practice, you are not connecting to the totality of who you are. This affects everyone you interact with, especially your children. Your children can sense when things are off with you, and they will most likely react in ways you aren't going to enjoy. Your children will benefit from a mother who is sane and calm. Namely, because they will be able to sense when they are "off" and know that they can always get back to balance--just like their mother does. Taking care of yourself is selfish in a good way. You cannot help anyone unless you are taking spiritual care of yourself. So that's step one. You must decide you are worth it!
- Space it out: The best advice I can give any parent who struggles with getting in a long morning practice is to ditch the long morning practice. Instead, do a short meditation in the morning, a few short practices smattered throughout the day, and a short cool down practice before bed. For example, I recite Japji first thing in the morning while I'm getting my kids breakfast and watching a show on Netflix. Once I know they are occupied, I do kriya for liberation (9 minutes) with an optional 16 minutes of silent meditation afterwards (the option is dependent on any "crises" that may have developed while I was "away"). Then, because my children are homeschooled, we are onto activities. While I'm preparing lunch I may chant "Bahuta Karam" 11 times, or while I am doing dishes I may chant "Wahe Jio," and/or while I'm picking up toys with them I may chant 25 recitations of "Aakhan Jor." At night I take a bath, and do some light stretches, maybe meditate, and do a prayer called "Kirtan Sohila" before my head hits the pillow. I might do all of these nighttime rituals after I've put the boys to sleep, or, more likely I'll do some of it while they are awake, and some more after they are sleeping. The flexibility we cultivate in our bodies through yoga is "extended" to our minds as well, and as a mother I've had to come up with sneaky ways to get my sadhana in without having to forfeit sleep, which I really need.
- Accept what is: There are days when I am interrupted even in my 9 minute meditation, or I have to stop and start Japji 15 times before I can finish because I am being asked questions. There are days that I have to wait a while before I can even begin to do my meditation. But if I decide I'm doing it, it's non-negotiable. It will get done. The other element of acceptance is recognizing that our children are our greatest teachers, and that at any given moment they might have a really great idea to share... if it feels right, go with it! They are fresh life on this planet and they are born in a state of natural YOGA. Just being in their presence and being in their joyful company can be a yoga practice in its own right.
As you can see, I am not a perfectionist. I believe that doing something is better than nothing. And more than that, doing something sets you up for positive momentum. From a short meditation in the morning, you may want to do more. You may want to do some chants with your children.
My son was really into "Ek Ong Kaar Satgur Prasaad"(or the magic mantra) for a while. Here's a video of his teaching it:
May you find the time you desire to build the foundation you need.