After diagnosing me with a postpartum mood disorder, my physician “prescribed” taking time for myself as part of my treatment plan. Having been a competitive athlete in my younger years, I always found that physical exercise always helped to right my mind. I’d done Yoga a few times in the past, and honestly, I didn’t always enjoy the practice. It was too slow and too still. However, in this season of my life, I’d decided that was what I needed. I dusted off my mat and began practicing daily. What I couldn’t have anticipated is that these practices not only helped ease my anxiety but also taught me five lessons that I apply to motherhood daily.
1) There is beauty in stillness
As a former competitive soccer player and recreational runner, I had never equated stillness with exercise. I hit the pitch or the trail and moved as fast and as hard as I possibly could. When I first started my Yoga practice, I found the endless holding of poses downright painful. However, as I progressed, I learned that there was value to taking time to be still. I could focus on the here and now and give my full attention to my body in this moment. As a mother, I find myself always moving. There are always chores to do, activities to run to, games to play. I used to find myself feeling guilty for any moment where I was not accomplishing something. Now I purposely take five minutes in the morning to sit on the ground with my kids and my coffee and do nothing but enjoy being with them. Those five minutes have quickly become my moments in the day.
2) Flexibility can be learned
Both my body and my personality are inflexible. However, every day that I hit the mat, my heels come a little closer to the ground in downward dog, and every day I let go of my need to control everything bit by bit. I’ve learned that chaos will not erupt if I let me preschooler pour his own cereal, and if it does, there are always napkins.
3) My Body is worth thanking
It is easy to be cruel to our postpartum bodies. It is easy to see the changes and mourn the loss of the elasticity in our skin, or the flatness of our tummies or the fullness in our breasts. Yoga has taught me that although my postpartum body is different, it is strong, and it is beautiful. The arms that carrying me through my cobra pose are the same strong arms the carry and comfort my children. The legs that are the base for my warrior are the legs that allow me to run and jump with my children.
Whether you are struggling through a tough side angle pose or trying to keep your cool while your toddler has a meltdown, taking time out to breathe can give you the power to get through anything
5) Rest is important
Most yoga practices end with savasana, which is a pose meant to help you achieve total relaxation. Savasana gives you time to thank your body for taking you through your practice and helps rejuvenate your mind, your body, and your spirit. Too often, as a parent, we don’t allow ourselves these restful moments. We power through work, chores, activities, and fall into bed without taking a few moments to reflect on our day. Taking a few minutes before bed to reflect and focus on gratitude helps me to fall asleep more quickly and allows me to wake up feeling more refreshed.
Have you found wisdom in your “me” time? Share the lessons you apply from your favorite hobbies to motherhood in the comments below!