My little girl just turned two years old. She’s old enough to have her own interests (playing her xylophone, listening to music, dancing) and dislikes (any amount of time that I spend writing or talking on the phone); yet she’s still young enough to not understand why Mommy needs to spend some time on her yoga mat every day.
When she was an infant it was still challenging for me to make time for my practice, but it was much easier than it is now. So what’s a stay-at-home yogi who enjoys—and needs—her practice to do? Here are six ways to stay committed to your home practice—even with little people running around.
1. Make time. This sounds obvious and intuitive, but I think it’s the number one mistake that practitioners who get out of the game make. If your practice is important to you, then make sure you get up earlier than your children and spouse or carve out some time before or after dinner when you have someone else at home to help with the kids. Even 15 minutes is better than nothing. Commit to making time for your practice, and you’ll most likely be surprised at what you’re able to do.
2. No excuses. I’ve heard so many excuses from both pregnant women and new mothers for why they don’t work out. Before I had a child, I vowed that I would never be one of these people. While I have empathy for those who don’t commit to an exercise routine—whether from lack of time or energy—I don’t agree with it. We all have days that we should, or need, to take off because of our schedules—and certainly the people in our lives should come before our practices—but here’s where the “mommy excuses” usually happen: “I can’t because of my kids.” This is an unfair responsibility to put onto the important people in your life. Not to mention that your kids benefit from you both being healthy and living your life as a good example for them.
3. Podcasts. While I don’t believe in excuses, I do understand that not everyone has the internal drive to push themselves. This is why so many people go to class—there’s a motivator right there in front of you. Unfortunately, not all moms can make time for—or are able to afford—yoga classes as often as they need to practice. Well, thank goodness for the internet. There are so many sites that offer free yoga podcasts. Yoga Journal’s website, for example, offers such short routines that there’s absolutely no reason to not fit in at least one video at some point during your day. So if you need some help and guidance on your mat, try practicing with a podcast.
4. Let your kids on your mat. My daughter thinks that time in my little yoga room is our playtime. I certainly can’t connect my breath and movement the way that my vinyasa practice requires, and I definitely can’t meditate or recline in a restorative savasana, but I can practice my handstands and forearm balances or get in some deep stretching. To children, the strength poses are fun to watch—and don’t be surprised if your kids want to try themselves—and seated stretches can be a time to connect with your little one. My favorite pose of all time is cow face pose, and my daughter will hug me or gently push on my back if I’m taking it into a forward fold. If I’m in cobbler’s pose then I’ll place her feet into the pose, too, while I tell her the name. Even ten minutes like this can be great for you and educational for your child.
5. Get off the computer and onto your mat! What do you make time for that you don’t need to—or that you don’t need as much time for? Do you have a television show that you regularly watch, yet make excuses about not being able to get in a yoga session? Do you spend time playing with your kids on an iPad when you could be spending time with them on your mat instead? Think not only of time management, but what time spent is truly meaningful to you. If you genuinely want more time practicing yoga, try making some small changes to get there—like turning your phone on silent or setting your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier.
6. Stop judging yourself. Being overly critical with yourself is likely counterproductive. If you think you’re “not good enough” at your yoga practice or that you’ve been out of the habit for too long, then you’re getting yourself further and further away from what really matters—that the beauty of yoga is that there aren’t any rules, appropriate time frames, or good and bad. Yoga means getting in touch with the deeper you, period. Usually just fifteen minutes on my mat helps me get to this place. So be nice to yourself—and an added benefit might just be a stronger home practice.
There are so many reasons to make time for your yoga practice. The most important one, however, is simple—yoga hopefully makes you a better, more authentic person. At the end of the day, our bodies house our souls—and yoga helps us keep both healthy. And what a great reason to want to be the best “you” that you can be—your children.