The Never-Ending Routine:
As women, we enjoy the transition into being a mother, yet we often forego taking care of ourselves. There is always someone who claims our undivided attention. Adorable words and mesmerizing smiles of our children are breathtaking, but from numerous diaper changes, pushing strollers, buckling up seat belts, feeding the right kinds of food through tucking them under sheets, a whole day of meeting others’ needs and being surrounded by people can be draining emotionally and physically.
Recharge to take Charge:
If you do not put a few minutes aside for yourself, you could end up resenting the people whom you love the most. To be in solitude and spend time charging our batteries is an essential part of life that is not taught to us in any school. Every day there is built-in tension; our bodies volunteer to be the storehouse for all the stress, saving unattended emotions and desires of our own, resulting in chronic aches and pains. With numerous things on our “to do” list, we start to take ourselves for granted and push our bodies into automated mode, where we neglect to correct our posture and breathe right. When we do not breathe correctly, we are not mindful of what we need to feed our bodies, and the results are that we get stressed out. Shallow breathing is one of the major reasons we become stressed; we do not allow the oxygen to fill our lungs.
Start slowly…Start with small changes:
As a mother of three, full-time yoga and meditation teacher, and Ayurvedic dietician, I often come across clients complaining about stress. I always ask them to make a small change in their everyday routine. It is doable for mothers with all ages of kids. The simple trick is to wake up at least half an hour before everyone else. Just adding a few minutes of mindful breathing and yoga poses in your morning routine charges your batteries for the entire day so you can still enjoy doing all that you do to make the world a little more perfect each day. There is no ninja or magic bullet for busy mothers to shape up. The image you create of insecurity and lack of self-esteem is all observed by the little ones who look up to you. Griping that there’s “no time for a work out,” or gladly throwing comments like “I wish!” and “I am not in shape” into the air serves no purpose. Just get on the floor and do few a poses! Remember that your happiness is what spreads around, so place high importance on your morning routine.
Spend 3-4 minutes just noticing your breath. Focus on your breath first thing in the morning. This can help you breathe from your belly instead of from your chest. This makes a lot of difference in your entire day. Keeping “Sama vritti”— where your breath is elongated equally, counting (to 4-5 to begin with) on your inhale and pausing to reflect on how your inhale was—puts better focus on your exhale. Breathe out with controlled counting and pause at the end of your exhale. Slow down your breath completely; it is a natural way to calm your mind.
Do Yoga Poses:
Yoga is not all about carrying a fancy mat to a studio to do a practice. The truth is, its proper breathing, nutrition, and just being mindful of your thoughts. “Sama vritti” (equal count of inhale and exhale) brings down your racing mind to stillness. You can plan your day better and handle any situation with ease. Here are a few basic poses that you can do right on the kitchen floor!
Child’s pose (Bala asana) 3-4 long breaths
This pose is also called Beauty pose (soundaryasana). In addition to increasing beauty physically, this pose is great for practicing gratitude. I practice naming a few things that I am thankful for; this eliminates any crankiness due to insufficient sleep. In my restorative meditation classes, I find my clients love this pose because it alleviates stress and anxiety. Other benefits include:
- Releases any tension in back, shoulders, and chest, especially if you have a toddler whom you carry or after hours of yard work
- Alleviates dizziness and fatigue
- Flexes the body’s internal organs and keeps them all supple
- Helps stimulate the flow of blood and lymph fluids in the upper chest and breast tissues
- Normalizes circulation throughout the body
- Encourages strong and steady breathing, very helpful when feeling anxious or vulnerable
- Soothing and calming as it quiets the mind; Ayurvedically, it’s a cooling pose
- Benefits kidneys, GI, and adrenals; reduces stiffness in spine; good for liver, spleen, genitourinary disorders, and menstrual disorders.
Cat pose (Bidalasana) 5-6 breaths
Cat pose is an elegant stretch for the entire spine and great for digestive health. I consider restoring my immunity as my priority. According to Ayurveda, digestive agni is key to immunity. We all know that, even though we don’t welcome sickness, sometimes it makes its way into our homes. As moms, we are the pillars of the home, and this pose aids in restoring all kinds of digestive health. More benefits:
- Increases spine flexibility and removes any stiffness in the shoulders and neck. Pressing your palms down relieves arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome, and tones all the muscles in your chest and shoulders.
- Great for achieving correct posture. Maintain a 90-degree angle, hands right below shoulders and knees right below hips. If you have knee issues, make sure to place a towel or some kind of padding underneath.
- Aids in smooth function of digestive agni, contracts the bulging tummy flab, and manages stress.
Down dog (parvathasana, adhomukasvanasana):
This is one of the most beneficial poses in yoga. It gives you a chance to look at yourself from an upside-down angle! On every inhale, I bring out all my positive qualities and let go of what is not necessary. I picture it like unloading all my tension. Down dog is a whole-body stretch that allows good blood circulation. When you carry heavy grocery bags or handbags and feel all the weight on one shoulder, this pose naturally corrects any shoulder issues. Since the blood flow is toward your brain, it creates a refreshing sensation and reduces fatigue. It also improves memory and concentration, which is a great way to reduce mental exhaustion. Just getting upside down brings an optimistic outlook and focus, which will change your attitude in every situation. Other benefits include:
- Stretches every muscle from head to toe, particularly calf muscles, hamstrings, back, and forearms.
- Restores natural posture after childbirth. Also helps in restoring posture if you do a desk job and are used to hunching constantly.
- Lengthens the spine, suitable to increase height, and increases bone density. Helps the back to be less stiff.
- Relieves symptoms of menopause.
- Prevents osteoporosis, headaches, and insomnia.
- Opens the chest, helping to decongest the lungs.
Tree pose (Vrksasana)
Like mothers, trees have always fascinated me and they are living proof of tolerance and patience. I like to stay in my tree pose for 5-6 breaths. Tree pose will help you feel strong and tolerant of situations in a way that might surprise you in your day-to-day life. There is no expectation, just mere presence. Great pose for new mothers to improve concentration. Benefits include:
- Strengthens the spine. In Ayurveda, you are as strong as your spine, so emphasis is on keeping the spine strong.
- Strengthens and tones the standing leg.
- Loosens hip joints and establishes pelvic stability.
- Helps in achieving balance and builds self-confidence to overcome any lack of self-esteem.
- Overcomes any postural deformities.