Updated: Feb 1
Starting a daily yoga practice, for as little as 10 minutes a day, can help increase physical and mental wellness significantly!
As busy moms, we don't always think we have time to do things for ourselves. That is partly the reason I started yoga, since it combines exercise with meditation. Both had been recommended to me as coping strategies for the Post-Partum Anxiety I had been experiencing. I didn't think I had time to do both, so I decided I would try something that combined both exercise and meditation into one practice.
Two and a half years later, I never realized that yoga would become such a focal point of my life. Yoga is more than a type of exercise, it is a lifestyle. I love it, and I love the person that it has helped me become.
Yoga is called a practice, because it acknowledges that we aren't perfect.
River, my 4 year old, likes to do yoga with me in the mornings sometimes. The other day our class had us doing chair pose with a prayer twist and she said it was too hard.
I told her it was ok, and that the teacher had shown a modification of the regular chair pose, and I knew she could do that.
I asked her if she knew why doing yoga was called a practice. She didn’t, but you know, she is 4.
I explained that yoga is called a practice because we aren’t perfect. We get a little better every day, and eventually we learn to do harder things.
I told her, I can’t do the hardest version either or take the bind like our teacher. I usually do the medium version of each pose.
She liked that.
Life is a lot like yoga. We can focus on our breath. Relax into things, and improve little by little.
I like to teach my kids that we don’t have to strive for perfection. Instead, we can focus on getting a little better every day.
That is what I love about yoga. It meets you where you are, while helping you become more connected with yourself, and more accepting of who you are. As someone who struggles with self-acceptance, this has been important for me.
Health Benefits of Yoga
According to Johns Hopkins University, (9 Benefits of Yoga | Johns Hopkins Medicine), some of the benefits of yoga include:
Improved Strength, balance and flexibility
Back pain relief
Eases arthritis symptoms
Benefits heart health
Relaxes you to help with sleep
Contributes to more energy and better moods
Helps to manage stress
Connects you with a supportive community
Leads to better self care
These benefits can be found even if you are a beginner with yoga, and can help people of all ages. You don't have to do the hardest poses to get the greatest benefits. Yoga helps you focus on your breath, be present in the moment, and find mental stillness.
Getting Started as a Beginner
When I started doing yoga, I was a busy mom with a baby that didn't sleep through the night. I was physically and mentally exhausted, and not losing the baby weight. I had heard from some girls that I worked with that yoga was a great easy exercise and even would help with my post-partum anxiety.
I didn't think I had time in my schedule to sign up for an hour-long class at a gym, so I started off with easy videos on YouTube that I could do at home. All I had to buy was a yoga mat!
There are tons of great yoga videos out there, and tutorials on how to do different poses. If you follow me on Instagram, I link to them pretty regularly.
This is the first yoga video that I used when I was starting out. I think Sarah Beth does a great job explaining things that is easy to follow. She has a whole playlist with 10 minute, easy beginner videos. That really helped make Yoga accessible to me when I was first starting out.
Emotional Benefits of Yoga.
Learning yoga has helped me learn to be gentle with myself, and to listen to my body. Every day, our body has different needs. Some days, I want a fast, cardio practice. Other days, I want a slow, gentle stretch. I have learned to accept that it isn't sustainable to push my body to its limits every day. Sometimes, I need to slow down and rest.
There are videos and tutorials for all different styles of yoga, and quizzes on what yoga style may benefit you at a given time. Since I mainly started yoga because of stress, I usually try to do a very gentle practice if I am feeling tired or unmotivated.
Yin style Yoga provides deep, slow stretches to help release tight and sore muscles. It can also help you relax your mind as you focus on your body and your breath.
There is even yoga just for your face, to help you release your facial muscles. This can help with reducing stress also.
By teaching us physical balance, yoga also teaches us mental balance. It helps connect our mind to our body through our breathing. There are many balancing poses where you stand on one leg, but that isn't the only aspect of balance. When doing our yoga practice, we keep in balance by repeating each pose for each side of our body. This helps create whole-body balance.
Yoga has also helped me to learn the value of self-acceptance. I think that is something that many of us, as moms, struggle with. We always put our kids and family first (not that it's a bad thing!), but we neglect ourselves in the process. Mom is a part of the family too, and we are deserving of the same care we provide our children.
When we accept ourselves, it is first accepting that we are important, and deserve to honor our needs. It is also about accepting where we are in life, with our physical and mental health. We may not be where we want to be in life, but we can still accept that where we are is ok. We can honor our needs in any given moment.
Accepting where we are, accepting ourselves as we are, doesn't mean we give up on our goals. It means that we accept that our goals will take work. And we are still valuable people while we are on the journey to where we want to be. Meeting goals isn't always linear. We can enjoy the process of self-development, without putting ourselves down for not being perfect.
Many times when we work on health and fitness goals, it can be easy to bash ourselves for being fat, out of shape, tired, eating chocolate, etc. It is important to do things incrementally and not to be too hard on ourselves. Accept that we are work in progress. We aren't going to lose 30 pounds by tomorrow in any type of sustainable way.
When I started Yoga, I did 10 minutes a day for months. Then I started doing 15 minutes. Every time I got comfortable with my practice, I would add more time, or more difficulty.
Learning to move slowly and gradually really helped me to reduce my stress level overall.
For more about styles of yoga, and the spiritual benefits, check out my other posting: September is National Yoga Month
Hopefully, you will enjoy your yoga journey as much as I am enjoying mine so far! Let me know in the comments what you like about yoga! If you have any questions you would like to ask, let me know that as well! I am happy to talk yoga any time! If this article resonates with you, feel free to share on your socials.
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