“Yoga is the practice of being close to yourself, no matter what is happening within or around you.” – Elena Brower
As a parent it can sometimes be challenging to balance the needs of your family with your own. It can feel like you are juggling responsibilities and much busier than you were in pre-parenting days.
So how do you find balance? How can you bring some calmness into your life, that will help you ride the waves of parenting more easily?
There are various practices within yoga that can help to calm your nervous system, create space between your thoughts, and enhance your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Fill your cup
“You cannot pour from an empty cup.”
What you give and receive in life is an exchange of energy. To give fully in each moment you need to have a reserve of energy.
Taking time to replenish your energy builds these reserves, balancing the giving nature of parenting with receiving.
Lack of sleep, a busy schedule, managing multiple responsibilities or a belief that taking time for yourself is selfish, can keep you on the cycle of giving, sometimes to the point of exhaustion.
When you are running on empty your nervous system and immune system is under stress, putting you at risk of illness.
Yoga teaches ‘Ahimsa’ – kindness to all beings, including yourself.
Taking time to replenish your energy is not selfish, it is necessary.
When your stress levels are high and you feel as if there is no reprieve – close your eyes and breathe. If you can step outside in the fresh air for 5 minutes and breathe, even better. If you can’t, for whatever reason, stay exactly where you are and simply bring awareness to your breath.
Focus on the inhale of breath through your nostrils and the exhale of breath out of your nostrils, a technique in yoga known as ‘Anapana’.
Initially you may find that your breathing is rapid. That’s ok. Observe and acknowledge without judgement, and stay focused on your breath.
This non-reactivity to what is going on in your body can help to calm your nervous system.
You can also calm your breath by slowly lengthening your exhalation, so it is longer than your inhalation.
Meditation is also a great tool for calming the nervous system and has added benefits in daily life. It provides a sanctuary to reconnect with yourself, it creates space between your reaction to external stimulus, and is deeply nourishing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Sometimes the thought of establishing a regular meditation practice, or meditating for the first time, can be daunting.
Here are a 6 meditation tips to help get you started:
1.) Accept that the first 5-10 minutes can be hard. When you first sit down to meditate, it is common for your brain to continue thinking. That’s what your brain loves to do. This can make you feel distracted and fidgety. Let your brain do what it loves to do. All you need to do is focus your awareness on your breath. Bringing your attention to your breath will help to soften your thoughts. With practice your mind will be conditioned to drop into meditation more easily.
2.) Know that you are not your thoughts. The stressed out Mum with a mind full of thoughts and the weight of responsibilities you feel on your shoulders is not who you are.
You are the peaceful, content ‘be’ing you discover in the silence and stillness.
Repeat that last sentence and let it really sink in. Let yourself explore this space.
3.) Always come back to your breath. If you find that your mind wanders off, gently bring awareness back to your breath. Focus on the inhale of breath through your nostrils and the exhale of breath out of your nostrils. Notice all the subtle sensations of breath in your body; the rise and fall of your chest and belly, the expansiveness of your rib cage, the feeling of breath in the back of your body, and how your breath can feel still like a lake, or ebbing and flowing like the ocean.
4.) Sometimes your entire meditation practice will be hard. Some days you will have stuff going on off the mat that lingers in your practice. Some days the physical stillness will feel uncomfortable. Some days your brain will be busy the entire meditation practice and you’ll feel like you’re failing. You are not. Remember – you are not your thoughts. You are the space. Simply sit with the discomfort and breath through it. Every single thought you have is a layer peeling away from your body – whether a belief, an expectation, an emotion, resistance or something else. Your “job” during these practices is to let it fall away. Imagine you are a vessel for whatever energy is coming up and let it pass through you.
5.) Explore. There is no one size fits all way to meditate. Try different meditation techniques and see what works for you. Mix it up occasionally. Losing yourself in something you love like painting or writing is also a form of meditation. Sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in and out of shore is meditation.
Anything you do with a single point of focus is meditation. Identify moments in your day when you can practice mindful meditation.
6.) Practice. Practice. Practice. Find a time to meditate that works for you and fits into your life, then commit to practicing. Even 15 minutes a day is enough. Before everyone wakes in the morning or at the end of your day. Meditation in the morning can set the tone for your day and meditation before bed can help you sleep.
It is these yoga practices that you can take off your mat and into your life. Create space to replenish your energy, breathe and be still. What occurs in these moments, the being you connect with here, is your natural state. The more you practice, the more it will permeate your daily life, and the calmer and less reactive you will be in your parenting.
Read more: http://www.wildplacesyoga.com.au/calming-yoga-techniques-for-mums/