Learning to do yoga is one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself. I started about ten years ago as an antidote to all the running I do, and, at the time, I was merely looking for a way to stretch, relax, and stabilize overworked muscles. But over the course of the past decade, I’ve found yoga to offer so much more than just athletic benefits. Yes, I do yoga for exercise and it does help support (quite literally!) my running habit, but it also offers tremendous mental, almost spiritual, benefits as well.
Recently, I’ve had to trade the cozy, hip studio I frequented pre-kids for a narrow spot on my dining room floor. Yet, I still find that when I can squeeze yoga practice into my day, I’m calmer, happier, more patient, and better able to deal with the day to day challenges of motherhood. I do miss the studio and being inspired by the other healthy bodies practicing along side of me, but I’ve found there are some terrific benefits of doing yoga at home, especially for moms.
First, and perhaps most obviously, you don’t have to go anywhere. You can practice on your schedule, while children are napping, or include them in your practice. When my little ones were babies, I’d put them on the yoga mat beneath me, smiling at and talking to them while I cycled through vinyasas overhead. I also used them as a “prop”, balancing them on my legs, lifting them up and down, as part of my workout. Both my boys love airplane rides, positioning them on top of my shins while I lay on my back and swoop them side to side and front to back. Talk about a core workout!
Setting a Good Example
Now that my older son is three, he does yoga with me. It does require patience on my part, as he wants to get his body in just the right position (you can see what I mean below), but I love that he’s honing his body awareness, and we’re both building balance, flexibility and core stability together.
You can also practice at the level that feels right for you today. Yes, you can do this in a studio, too, but it’s so much easier to adapt the style, level, and tempo of practice at home. My favorite app for yoga practice is Yoga Glo. Class searches include style, duration, and level of intensity. There are also classes specifically designed for pre- and post- natal practice. Even if I don’t have time for a full class, or I am stopped mid-way because someone woke up from his nap early, I can pick up where I left off, or just be content in knowing that I did something good for my body today. “Some yoga is better than no yoga” is always my mantra.
Another great benefit of at-home yoga, especially for pregnant Moms-to-be or new moms is you really don’t have to worry about what you look like or whether you can keep up with all the poses. It’s easier to take it slow when you can literally hit the “pause” button mid-practice.
A common misconception with yoga is that you have to know what you’re doing before you start. Not to state the obvious, but if you’re just starting, of course you don’t know what you’re doing! YogaGlo also has some terrific Level 1 classes with instruction tailored for new yogis. Perfect positioning isn’t critical. As one of my favorite instructors always said, “If you’re not falling over, you’re not having enough fun.”
Whether you’re looking for something to help you be more calm, flexible, strong, focused, or connected, the benefits of yoga are vast – and luckily, also right at your fingertips. Namaste.