Juggling Your Yoga Practice With Raising Kids
Shannon Harvey, Director of The Connection, and author of Whole Health Life, wrote a great blog 'Mission Impossible', where she added up all the things that us mums (and dads) 'should' be doing each day according to the experts - like sleeping enough, mothering or fathering enough, eating right, exercising enough - you get it, and not surprisingly we actually need an extra 4 hours a day to do it all. So how do we fit a yoga practice into that schedule?
Truth is, its going to be different for each and every one of us parents, and the unique little personalities of our children. Will they let us do our yoga practice? Most of the time, probably not, without jumping on top of you, wanting to copy you (for a few seconds till they become bored), or requiring some sort of assistance every minute. This can make for a very disjointed and unfulfilling yoga practice.
I did my yoga teacher training the year before I had my first child. Lola, whilst a blessing, was also a babe who loved to be held. I practically carried her on me for the first 3 months. When my girls were little, the only time I ever practiced a proper yoga session was in the serenity of my local studio that I taught at. I was fortunate that my husband's work had routine and we negotiated three times per week that he could hold the fort for me to find my centre again. He knew that that was essential to my sanity!
Life changed, the girls were toddlers, and my husband worked shiftwork. We moved away from family. I found it hard to teach yoga let alone practice it daily. It was moments like these, in the backyard playing around, that I got to practice some yoga asana. During these times I focused a lot on Yamas and Niyamas - the way I managed myself and interacted in my world. Its the moral code of yoga. I also did a lot of self-study Svadhyaya and really focused on my journey of becoming a parent and learning those ropes. I always reminded myself of something my first teacher, Paul Dallaghan, taught me - that the ancient yogis said the real challenge of yoga is not to sit on a mountain meditating for 10 years, but to apply it in the real world, living in this life.
Acceptance of the phase of life that you are at and the capacity in which you have to practice yoga is a must. And remember - its not all asana! There are many other tools in the yoga toolbox to help you with the juggle. If you are sleep deprived (that was me for 7 years till my adrenals said no more!) yoga nidra is powerful. A simple practice like Nadi Shodana - Alternate Nostril Breath, can keep your nervous system in check, sleep deprived of not! Think outside the instagram and yoga magazine box of acrobatic yoga poses performed by perfect looking people in to die for locations. Whist I truly appreciate the beauty in this expression, it's also not relative to most of us, and if we are not in the right mindset it can be really disempowering.
Adrenal fatigue opened up doors for me to learn how to self-love again, and nurture myself, which I choose to do mostly through my yoga practice. Be kind to yourself, don't beat yourself up for not being enough and doing enough. You are amazing just the way you are. When you truly love your own being enough to care for it as a top priority (which means being kind to yourself), think about the ripple effect you will have on your kids when they learn that from you! The answer doesn't lie in trying to do it all. Priorities change as we evolve as parents and yogis and as our family grows and the kids become more and more independent. Just take each day as it comes, and always ask, "Will this serve me and nourish me?".