Mommas, let’s take care of ourselves. We can’t take care of others unless we take care of ourselves…FIRST. Before refilling that coffee cup, take a moment and refill that weary mind, that exhausted body, and that lost soul.
Let’s make a plan (I know, it’s hard) to exercise: go for a walk, take a dance class, maybe even try yoga and meditation. (Yes, you read that correctly.) It helps stressed out moms. The poses stretch and strengthen tense muscles and the focus on breathing (yes, just breathing) settles the nervous system.
Yoga encompasses all of the self-care essentials, and provides three key benefits which help us return to our family with a refreshed mind, body, and soul.
According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga practice has increased from 5.1% in 2002 to 9.5% in 2012. More importantly, of those surveyed, more than 85% reportedly use yoga to reduce stress. So, it may be beneficial to try a local yoga class. I’d recommend a yoga fundamentals or beginner vinyasa flow class which moves through basic poses. It’s not intimidating and students aren’t expected to complete the more advanced yoga poses. I mean really…mommas don’t need an injury, just a little exercise and stress relief.
Recently, I read an article in the New York Times titled, “Dancing Down the Years.” The older dancers in the article, some in their 80s, point out the possibility of never standing still and maintaining their physicality. As we age, we don’t need to be concerned with getting better; instead we need to focus on maintenance. So, their lesson to me: Never. Stop. Moving.
Even after two children, one born when I was forty, I insist on keeping active. Yoga can do just that. It’s a daily struggle, especially after completing some spring planting that I discussed in my last post. I may not be very strong, but I plan to remedy that. As a former dancer, I feel connected to and annoyed by the increased stiffness in my joints. Seriously, it never occurred to me that I too would get older. That my body would revolt against movements that, when I was younger, were second nature.
It doesn’t help that pregnancy and motherhood wreck havoc on bodies. As moms, we never slow down. All that stress, carrying babies, carrying groceries, and cleaning up toys take a toll on our bodies. Sometimes I feel like I’ve run a marathon or played a game of tackle football. So, I tried yoga at the local YMCA. It helps to counteract all that abuse of mind and body.
Benefits: Flexibility, Muscle Strengthening, and Mind Clarity
Still not convinced? Okay…let’s discuss some benefits. First, flexibility is not a requirement. As beginners, props such as blocks or flex bands are encouraged and help develop strength and flexibility. Second, yoga builds muscle length and strength. There are numerous types of yoga classes but even restorative yoga builds strength. Yoga, like dance, conditions and elongates muscles while decreasing the chance for injury. Third, yoga’s meditation and controlled breathing clears the mind. Most beginning classes focus on controlled breathing, rather than meditation. Meditation is a skill learned with more advanced study. With that said, yoga can help calm those nagging anxieties. Isn’t that what we want? Relaxation and release of tension from daily Momma dramas.