For Moms – A Short & Sweet Yoga Practice for Your Mental Health
Originally published on YogaDigest.com
As a mother, I have come to know very well the fine line between feeling like everything is smooth sailing and everything is falling apart. Some days I’ve got my feet firmly planted in the “I’ve got this” camp, and other days I’m just tip-toeing the line, teetering on the edge of a breakdown. With a mile long to do list, a never ending pile of laundry, a toddler that still wakes up 1 or more times at night, four mouths to feed, and two businesses to run, it can often seem impossible to find the time for self-care.
Giving myself permission to do less on my mat is key to squeezing in a much needed practice. A short and simple daily practice can still provide immense mental health benefits. Because time is precious, I pick 5 poses and get straight to the point. This new way of practicing in motherhood has given me the courage to face my challenges with a touch more grace and a lot more laughter.
The yoga practice below is designed to cultivate qualities that exist inside all mothers but sometimes feel out of reach. You’ll need a bolster and a mat, or a couch cushion and rug will also work.
Rest: Child’s Pose
Place the bolster lengthwise on the mat and kneel in front of the bolster. Bring your feet together, separate your knees, and then lay your belly and chest on the bolster. Turn your head to one side for comfort. As you embrace the bolster, feel that you are embracing yourself. Pour the love that you give to everyone else into yourself. Stay for 2 – 5 minutes.
Warrior 1 with Cactus Arms: Stand at the top of your mat. Step your left foot to the back of the mat, and bend your right knee. Face the front of your mat to find Warrior 1 legs. Reach your arms out to the side and bend your elbows with your fingers pointing up. Open your chest towards the ceiling. As you take 5 breaths, tap into a courageous feeling in your legs and heart.
Eagle: Wrap your left arm under your right. Lift and wrap your left leg over your right so that you are standing on your right foot. As you take 5 breaths, find a sense of focus in the awkwardness and chaos of the pose.
Reverse Warrior: Step your left foot to the back of the mat and bend your right knee. Turn your shoulders and ribcage to the long edge of your mat. Bend your left side waist and reach your right arm over your head. As you take 5 breaths, become aware of effortlessness and ease.
Come back to stand at the top of the mat and repeat these 3 postures on the left side. You could also add a vinyasa between sides. If time allows, repeat the entire sequence 1 – 2 more times.
Set a timer for 5 minutes. Find a comfortable seat on your bolster. Begin by noticing your breath. On the inhale breath, tune into a feeling of calm. Visualise a place that instantly brings you into a state of peace. On the exhale breath, sense any stress or negativity leaving your body and mind. Let emotions like anger, frustration, and impatience thin out and disappear. Try to let your breath feel natural without trying to purposely deepen or lengthen the breath. Continue to observe your breath and focus on these intentions for the duration of the meditation.