May 23, 2013

Balancing Life as a Yogi Mom. ~ Jessa Baxter Voos

The day starts with the best intentions: “I will absolutely get a yoga practice in today. This is happening, no matter what.” But as a mom, so many other things seem to end up taking priority over yoga. And before you know it, the day is done and no practice. This has happened to me and other mothers out there countless times.

I love being a mother. It has been one of the most rewarding, fulfilling things that has ever happened to me. It has changed my life…and my yoga practice. Adjusting to life as a yogi mom has not been easy, coupled with transitioning from Los Angeles, where there were studios and practices everywhere I turned, to the college town in Kansas with no studio to speak of. It was a drastic change, and it’s been a long road, but now—with some adjustment in my approach and ideas of what my yoga practice “should be”—I have finally learned how to carve out time for a yoga practice in my daily life.

As moms, we tend to make sure that everyone else’s needs are met before our own. And our needs often fall by the wayside. It’s important that we take, or make, the time to give back to ourselves—or, as my husband says, “Charge your battery.” I know that I’m a better mom, wife, friend, business owner, teacher, and yogi when I get my yoga practice in.

Here are some tips for making yoga happen in your busy life:

1. Switch your perspective.

We talk a lot in yoga about changing our perspective, and I think that idea absolutely applies to this situation. What used to be the ideal situation for your yoga practice might have to be altered slightly. Instead of being upset that you only got 15 minutes of practice in today, be thankful that you got at least 15 minutes of practice in today.

Maybe you don’t have time to go to a 90-minute yoga class every single day with our favorite yoga instructor, but instead of letting that affect you negatively or keep you from any kind of practice, just switch your perspective. Sneak in a practice at home on the days it doesn’t work out, and really appreciate the days where it does. If you are not sure what to do in a home practice, there are really amazing online options that can guide you through a practice in your living room.

2. Be fluid.

No, not in your yoga practice, but in your plans for your yoga practice. Even if you have your kids on a very strict routine, things don’t always go as planned. You might have started the day thinking your yoga practice would occur when the kids go down for their naps, but perhaps the stars did not align, and one child’s tooth is coming in and keeping them up. Instead of throwing your practice out the window for the day, adjust your schedule. Find another time where you might be able to squeeze in even 15 minutes of practice. It’s a good lesson in non-attachment.

3. Let go of the guilt.

Easier said than done, I realize. I know as moms we view taking time for ourselves as selfish or needy, but it’s okay to step away and do something good for yourself. In fact, it’s healthy. Ultimately you are doing something that is going to make you feel better and be a better mom. There can be a lot of stress in playing the mom gig: juggling schedules, dinners, homework, paying bills, making sure everyone is happy. But being grounded in your own  regular yoga practice can relieve a lot of that stress. So let go of the guilt, and realize that everyone in the family is better off when mama gets her yoga.

4. Ask for help.

Again, this is a hard thing to do. Find someone you trust—a grandparent, a good friend, a reliable babysitter—and ask them for help. Perhaps find another yogi mother, and take turns watching the kids and going to yoga. I guarantee that there are other moms out there wishing they could set up this awesome arrangement. Ask.

5. Tired is a tired excuse.

I was the queen of the tired excuse. And a lot of times it wasn’t an excuse; I was legitimately exhausted from lack of sleep at night and going non-stop during the day with two kids. When you are tired, the thought of doing an entire practice is way too much to consider. Start small, and—if it feels good—do a little more. I would start by telling myself I was just going to do five Sun Salutations. And, usually by the third one, I would feel better and stay on my mat a little longer. It’s amazing how a little bit of practice revived me and actually made me feel less tired.

6. Practice yoga off the mat.

Perhaps you’ve had one of those days where getting on your mat is absolutely not going to happen. In that case, practice your yoga while you brush your teeth, fix dinner, or drive to pick the kids up from school. Take a few deep breaths, find a mantra to focus on and make a mini meditation happen. Yoga doesn’t always have to be the physical practice of yoga.

7. Have fun with the kiddos!

In a perfect world, yoga is a place where you get to totally disconnect, a place of peace, a place to step away from the craziness of family life. When that doesn’t work out, have fun and do yoga with your kids in the chaos of life. They will LOVE it. Even if they have no idea what is going on, they will love it. And they are learning awesome habits from you in the process. Everyone wins.

Jessa Baxter Voos began her yoga journey in 2003 after her first marathon, hoping to ease the strain on her body from running. She immediately fell in love with the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of yoga. Jessa taught yoga in Los Angeles before she moved to Manhattan, Kansas, to start a family. In Kansas, she opened a small studio called Orange Sky Yoga. Her classes build strength while keeping the ego humble and adding a touch of clarity, quiet and peace to her students’ busy lives.

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Assistant Ed: Dejah Beauchamp/Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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