In an ideal world we wouldn’t need an ultimate guide to yoga as self-care for busy mamas. In other words, a guide of how on earth to fit in a very good tool for self-care. But here we are.
As a mama with four children under seven years old with a chronic illness that limits my energy and ability levels, it is hard to fit self-care in. In this I have one leg up, I have found yoga offers several tools that I cannot live well without. So it is harder to not fit it in, than it is. Still, it can be hard to justify the time it requires.
We don’t really need to go over what yoga is at this point. But I’d like to be clear as to what it isn’t. It is not long classes, at a specific place, with super bendy people wearing expensive clothing.
For me, yoga is a set of tools, that have been handed down from ancient Indian practices that happen to help us manage life better.
We need rest, time out, some gentle movement, better sleep and more. And we need it in 10 minutes or so, or it isn’t likely to happen.
Yoga as Self-Care can be
- Time out
- Stress reducing
- Sleep improving
- Pain relieving
- Flexibility building
- Balancing the central nervous system – if you are curious about yoga and the central nervous system, check out this post from my other blog.
Many of us are living in a constant state of tension. The stress of traffic jams, multiple priorities, work and kids and health and All The Things mean we can be living in a high level of stress.
A lot of us just don’t get enough sleep. Whether that is our lifestyle (small kids) or insomnia.
Too many of us are living with symptoms that have crept up on us. Pain being one. Bad back? Twingy neck? Tight thighs?
Yoga can help with these things. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a panacea or cure all. But it is a useful set of tools with research backed benefits.
Check out these posts too
Some common misperceptions
Some common misperceptions include that yoga is not accessible or adaptable. I practiced all throughout a pregnancy with severe pelvis issues and a chronic illness. My “practice” wasn’t very physical for the most part, but there were many self-care tools to help me manage.
Another is that you need to be flexible but in my experience, as long as you practice properly (supporting your body where it’s at, often with props or modification) then you gain flexibility.
One age old argument is whether it is a religion. No, its not. You can Google that if you’re curious for more information. As a Christian, trained yoga teacher and avid information gatherer, I feel no conflict with my beliefs. During teacher training I learnt about the history and philosophy of yoga. But in my day to day I don’t go too far into the spirituality component. If someone feels it conflicts for them, I don’t feel the need to convince them nor explain myself.
Yoga as self-care tools
The premise I offer you, as a busy mama with many things going on, is the concept of 10 minutes a day.
Restorative (a type of yoga designed for those unwell or recovering)
You can combine two or three for optimal benefits.
Here’s where it gets interesting. You can choose the tools according to what you need most.
You are struggling with sleep or have babies waking in the night? Try a type of guided meditation called Yoga Nidra. You can do this at nap time. This will give you some profound rest.
Overwhelm is creeping up and you feel like you just need an escape. Breathe. For up to 10 minutes. You could use the simplest practice of inhale for a count of four, pause for a count of two, exhale for a count of six.
Perhaps your neck and shoulders are constantly grumbling about sitting at the desk. Many upper body focused movement classes will help, but ones designed for the desk would be handy.
You’ve got everyone into bed and would like to sleep yourself but you’re feeling too wired. Set yourself up with some cushions/pillows/bolsters and sink into one or two restorative poses. These will help you to relax and bring the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode) online.
What else do you need to get started?
You don’t need much but you may like the following
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Most importantly, a commitment to yourself. Give yourself 10 minutes a day for the next few weeks and see how it makes you feel.
Sign up for my free 10 minute yoga as self-care challenge. You will receive four practices you can do in 10 minutes direct to your inbox. You can practice breathing, gentle movement, restorative yoga and yoga nidra guided meditation. In just 10 minutes per day!
Yoga may not be your cup of tea and that is OK. I love that it has so many side benefits. But if you need other tools, I encourage you to try them and commit to doing them regularly. You absolutely deserve self-care, rest and relaxation. Even in the midst of a busy life, in fact, especially so.