Sitting in my Yoga class today a lady shared with us that she was once a semi-professional tennis player. Due to a debilitating injury, however, she had to quit and is just now getting herself back to working out. She expressed her gratitude to our teacher for helping her regain the strength and flexibility she lost since her injury. She then told us she wished she would have slowed down enough to add yoga to her workout regime before it was too late. As I sat there, I thought about how we as moms are similar. Constantly pushing ourselves for the needs of our families to the point of injury both mentally and physically. But what if we found a way to find balance before we were forced to slow down?
As mothers, we are on the constant go. I know my husband shakes his head when he gets pulled into the chaos of activities of our children. We are often professional strategists on how to be in three places at once. Most of us handle these tasks like it as second nature, like a needle bobbing in and out of the fabric of life.
We may push ourselves physically at the gym to get our strength or endorphins up to handle the daily stresses or find a helpful wine glass to calm the anxious mind. But what if we could combine both inner wellness with physical stamina and growth? Enter Yoga.
Decreases Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety go hand and hand in the daily life of a mama. Whether we worry about if we are completely messing up our child to are we feeding them the right things to are they getting enough sleep, our mind is in constant flux. Taking time to slow down and allow healthy selfishness is not only ok but essential to keep the balance between mama life and your sanity. Slowing down will keep you sharp for more hectic times in the day.
Whether is postpartum depression or just feeling down and out, a yoga session will not only create endorphins and much-needed serotonin. Giving yourself the time to reflect as well as time to feel good about doing something for yourself will help lift those dark clouds. Without my weekly yoga practice fighting the stages of grief with the loss of my mother would have been unbearable. For more about Grief see here.
Promotes Sleep Quality
Being a mama sleep can sometimes be a luxury. But when we do have the chance to catch up on some z’s the last thing we want to do is be tossing and turning. Studies have shown that people who practiced yoga fell asleep faster, slept longer and felt more well rested in the morning. (1) Perhaps it is because yoga has been shown to increase the secretion of Melatonin. (2)
Allows Better Focus
Being pulled in many directions leave even the most organized person frazzled. Yoga emphasizes focusing on the present. Not what’s to come, who needs to be picked up, what we forgot at the grocery store, and the homework project that your child needs to finish tomorrow. Taking time to focus on the here and now creates a balance in our ever-changing world. Turning off the personal to-do list for a moment leads to fewer distractions and allows the mind to relax, allowing you to take a breath and focus. This mama time out also helps you with memory and reaction time. A definite plus in the mama world.
Reduces Aches and Pains
Many times we as mothers are making quick movements to catch the falling toddler to grabbing the sweater left behind as we head out. One sudden move and just like that our back tweaks or our neck kinks. When we don’t allow our bodies to warm up or stretch regularly, we are more prone to injury. Taking the time a few times a week for yoga poses not only stretches already sore muscles to release tension but protects us from future aches and pains as well.
Reduces Inflammation in Joints
Inflammation is a natural immune response, but sometimes it kicks into overdrive. When it lingers, it can leave some pretty devastating consequences such as heart disease cancer and diabetes. Bringing your body down from its fight or flight mentality will allow the body time to rest and rebuild. Allowing time for your body to repair and regenerate will enable it to heal. When you stretch, it gives your muscles time to warm up properly and more flexibility as well as increased blood flow.
Improves Flexibility and Balance
So there are a few skeptics out there who would rather just run or do cardio to get their serotonin levels up. Getting a good sweat on can feel amazing for sure, but unfortunately, if you are only pushing yourself, you are not building a good foundation for strength and flexibility. Think of yoga as the base of the pyramid of your workout regime. Spend time building the base, and the foundation will only be stronger.
Taking the time to focus on your balance and your inner well being will allow yourself to push harder as well decrease the chance of injury. So even though you may think your mind may not be able to slow down for the pace of a relaxing yoga session give it a chance. Both your mind and body in time will thank you.
Increases Overall Strength
Strength goes hand in hand with motherhood. When we stop to think of all the small miracles we pull off it really is a truly fabulous feat. Wouldn’t be even better to not fall in a heap of complete exhaustion at the end of the day? Well, yoga isn’t an absolute miracle worker, but it’s close. Practicing yoga on a regular basis not only helps keep your inner and physical strength primed and ready, it helps with your endurance as well.
The mental and physical benefits of adding some yoga poses to your day will keep your mind and body ready for whatever life or the kids throw at you. Not to mention your health. So take the time a few days a week to find your inner zen and stretch. Both you and your family will notice the difference.