With the birth of our tiny miracles, life changes forever. Since celebrating my son’s first birthday a couple of months ago, I have been reflecting on many of the ways things are different for me now; my radically changed yoga practice being one of the most significant.
As a passionate yogi, one of the most challenging adjustments for me was accepting my new yoga practice. Not only did it take me most of this year to regain my strength and flexibility, but the amount of time I am able to spend on my mat has diminished considerably.
Before baby I was a typical full time yoga teacher; biking to classes all over the city, teaching from morning till night, practicing in between, and loving every minute of it.
Nowadays I have to choose my teaching gigs carefully, balancing my yoga schedule with my baby’s needs. And those long sessions in the studio working on my personal practice? Let’s just say anytime I get on my mat is a luxury, although I do make a point of trying to squeeze in some time every day.
Balancing baby and yoga has been a challenge, and one year in I am only now starting to feel confident that both our needs are being met. Here are five of my favorite ways to make the process easier.
1. Let go of the past and embrace the present. The sooner you adjust to your new way of life, the more satisfied you’ll be with what parenthood has to offer. Yes, caring for a new baby means way less time to yourself to be in the studio, or even to make it onto your mat at home; but, you’ve been blessed with a tiny, gorgeous, little son or daughter, and you still get to do yoga, just not quite as much, for now. Be thankful for the quiet moments you do get to stretch, flow, and meditate.
2. Share your practice with your Little Yogi. Studios offering post-natal yoga often include classes where your little one is welcome to join in the fun. New babies can lie or sit comfortably on your mat while you practice, and teachers will incorporate gentle asana with infant massage. Crawler and toddler yoga classes are also gaining popularity, encouraging mom and little one to practice together.
3. Practice at home. Having a home practice has been my saving grace since my son was born. Whether I’m practicing my own sequences, or studying with the help of an online site like My Yoga Online, it’s often so much easier to find time to do yoga in my living room than it is to get to a local studio. I practice with different instructors via online videos while baby is napping, and if he wakes early, I bring him onto my mat and flow through a couple of sun salutations as he plays around me.
4. Practice outside. During the summer months, parks and beaches provide a great setting for yoga. Try a stroller yoga class where the stroller acts as a yoga prop for balancing and strengthening poses. Or roll out your mat while baby sleeps or plays in the park.
5. Remember that yoga is not just asana. Although the physical poses are important, there are many other rewarding aspects to a yogic lifestyle. On the days when it isn’t possible to make it onto your mat, try to focus on other yogic qualities of life. Enjoy a healthy home-cooked meal with baby, or spend some quiet moments in meditative thought while nursing or walking. Even washing dinner dishes can be yogic when you do it with love and gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given, and the beautiful life you are living.