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5 effective ways even the busiest mama can sneak yoga into her life

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There are any number of entry points into mindfulness. Going to a yoga class, or doing sun salutations are two common entry points, but as a new mom, one might have to ask herself, what else is there?

I can't imagine having the patience or the stamina to survive all the demands of mom-life without a yoga practice. I started practicing yoga when I was 17, and I can assure you that my practice looks very different now. It's nearly impossible to find the time or to prioritize myself. However, as a sensitive person, I have learned that I cannot be the mom I want to be if I don't invest in some breathing room for myself.

Here's how to sneak yoga into your day.

1. Breathe

I know your hands may be so full that you have no time for yourself, but you can always breathe mindfully. Breathing is one of the truest ways we can provide for ourselves.

Did you know that every time you breathe in your blood pressure increases slightly? And every time you breathe out your blood pressure decreases a bit? Breathing in stimulates your heart. Breathing out allows you to let go and relax.

Are you feeling down, and lost in your responsibilities? Try focusing on your inhales. Are you feeling anxious and overwhelmed? Try focusing on your exhales. Breathe in with deep awareness. Breathe out slowly and calmly.

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You can breathe mindfully while you are nursing, preparing meals, right before you walk in the door, while you are putting away toys… whenever you need it!

There is research proving that breathing at a rate of six breaths per minute (one breath every 10 seconds), is healthy for the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is like the Meditation Teacher of your nervous system. When it is a healthy contributor to your life it is receiving information from your body about your stress levels, helping to regulate your stress, and sending information to your heart, gut, and hormones that you're safe to create, digest and procreate. So inserting some mindful breaths into your day is my number one recommendation for taking care of your nervous system.

2. Play on the floor with your children

Many of the shapes that young children move through are actually yoga postures, which strengthen the core, open the hips and empower one's reach. When my son was a newborn, I laid down next to him every morning. Both of us were lying on our back, kicking our legs in the air, strengthening our core muscles, and giggling of course. He eventually learned how to roll over, pull himself up, crawl, squat, stand and walk. As I went through these milestones with him I recovered my own waistline and bonded with him. It is a really special time to interact non-verbally and in the present moment with your little one.

When my baby became a toddler and we played trains (way too early in the morning), I would sit down on the floor with him and before I know it I was moving through hero's pose, bound angle pose, a squat, a down dog, a simple twist, and all sorts of interesting variations of these traditional postures.

You don't even need to know the names of the poses, just do what your child is doing. They are naturals. My older son is so agile and moves so quickly I can barely keep up. My younger son is much more sturdy and likes to sit and play with characters. I learn a lot about their individuality by mirroring their movements.

The point is to find time to be on the floor, exploring, playing and being light-hearted together, and to think of this as a yoga practice. This is a much different approach to a yogic state of mind that many of us are used to, but it creates a similar experience of unwinding and leads to a calm an easy breath. The dishes may pile up as you put your time into moving together, but it's worth it.

3. Meditate at dawn

Traditionally, dawn is considered the ideal time to meditate. When my children were very young I was my most busy, and family and work demands were eating up all of my personal time. I benefited from waking up around 4:30 AM, meditating for 20-30 minutes and then going back to sleep if I could.

Now that my kids are sleeping in a little longer, I will wake up by 5:30 AM, shower, meditate and feel like I am starting my day on my own time, rather than being dragged out of bed.

My children will often come and sit down on my lap or next to me. When I am centered, they are more centered. When they graze at the edges of my patience throughout the day, I lean into my meditation—I visualize myself sitting on my meditation cushion, and the tension often diffuses.

I find that by making the time to meditate early, there is a lot less wasted energy and there are fewer power struggles throughout the day. So even though I wake up earlier, I have more energy.

My favorite meditation practice is said to be over 2,000 years old, but it is remarkably relevant for a new mom.

Recite to yourself the following phrases:

  • May I be filled with loving-kindness
  • May I be well
  • May I be peaceful and at ease
  • May I be happy

You can then remember to say these lines to yourself when your kids are splashing over your limits at bath time. You can also extend them to your partner or colleagues when you need to reconnect with the good in them. Being able to think "May you be filled with loving-kindness" to my husband is often just the pause I need to calm my temper down.

4. Just practice

Let your children run around you, jump on you and attempt to distract you. Let them fight with each other or make a mess. But stay focused, and sneak some yoga in.

If you don't know how to self-practice, watch a video, or have a teacher come over. I've taught women whose young children are running around them, and distract them feverishly, but we stay with it, and their bodies still soak in the yoga and enjoy the benefits of moving and breathing mindfully.

In my attempts to practice at home, one of two things typically happens. Some days my sons are very interested in what I am doing, and they won't leave me alone. They jump on my updog. They ride up and down on my cat/cow. Basically, they think I'm a tunnel or a bridge no matter what pose I am doing. This isn't very centering, it doesn't last long, but it does give me the chance to introduce my son to yoga.

Alternatively, they sense the quiet in the house, and they settle into their own center. When I am finished practicing, and I go check on them, they are typically doing puzzles or building with magnetic blocks. It's as though my message to them that I need time to myself sends a message to them to do the same.

5. Commit to a schedule

Although it's less time consuming to sneak yoga and meditation in at home, there is also something to be said for making it to class, connecting with other like-minded adults, and being challenged and cared for by a teacher.

My best advice for making it to class is to take it seriously. Decide how often you need to do yoga to reach your fitness and peace-of-mind goals. Then look at your schedule, and find the weekly classes that work for you. Go to those classes every week. Get to know your teachers.

A mom needs to be cared for and looked after too. Sit down with your family, and ask them for their support. Let them know that you understand that it means you will be away on Saturday morning, or Thursday nights, or whatever you decide. They will see how much it benefits you, and therefore benefits them.

Yoga is a verb. It's something that we do.

We do yoga to harness our wild thoughts and feelings, and to direct our passions towards some greater purpose. This is what I love about yoga anyway.

I love that I have to show up. I have to physically, mentally and spiritually act. To do yoga is to simultaneously take life into your own hands, and to surrender to the currents that are greater than yourself. It feels a lot like parenting actually. I am in charge. I am not in charge.

I know that becoming a mom brings a new definition to the words busy, tired, and fulfilled. It may not seem like you have time to practice, but in making the time it may surprise you with new-found inner resources that are exactly what you need.

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Did you hear that? That was the sound of Nordstrom and Maisonette making all your kid's summer wardrobe dreams come true.

Nordstrom partnered with Maisonette to create the perfect in-store pop-up shop from May 24th-June 23rd, featuring some of our favorite baby and kids brands, like Pehr, Zestt Organics, Lali and more. (Trust us, these items are going to take your Instagram feed to the next level of cuteness. 😍) Items range from $15 to $200, so there's something for every budget.

Pop-In@Nordstrom x Maisonette

Maisonette has long been a go-to for some of the best children's products from around the world, whether it's tastefully designed outfits, adorable accessories, or handmade toys we actually don't mind seeing sprawled across the living room rug. Now their whimsical, colorful aesthetic will be available at Nordstrom.

The pop-in shops will be featured in nine Nordstrom locations: Costa Mesa, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Bellevue, WA; Seattle, WA; Toronto, ON; and Vancouver, BC.

Don't live nearby? Don't stress! Mamas all across the U.S. and Canada will be able to access the pop-in merchandise online at nordstrom.com/pop

But don't delay―these heirloom-quality pieces will only be available at Nordstrom during the pop-in's run, and then they'll be over faster than your spring break vacation. Happy shopping! 🛍

This article is sponsored by Nordstrom. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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For decades, doctors have prescribed progesterone, one of the key hormones your body needs during pregnancy, to prevent a miscarriage. The hormone, produced by the ovaries, is necessary to prepare the body for implantation. As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta produces progesterone, which suppresses uterine contractions and early labor.

But a new study out of the UK finds that administering progesterone to women experiencing bleeding in their first trimester does not result in dramatically more successful births than a placebo. Yet, for a small group of mothers-to-be who had experienced "previous recurrent miscarriages," the numbers showed promise.

The study, conducted at Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Birmingham in the UK, is the largest of its kind, involving 4,153 pregnant women who were experiencing bleeding in those risky (and nerve-wracking) early weeks. The women were randomly split into two groups, with one group receiving 400 milligrams of progesterone via a vaginal suppository, and the other receiving a placebo of the same amount. Both groups were given the suppositories through their 16th week of pregnancy.

Of the group given progesterone, 75% went on to have a successful, full-term birth, compared to 72% for the placebo.

As the study notes, for most women, the administration of progesterone "did not result in a significantly higher incidence of live births than placebo." But for women who had experienced one or two previous miscarriages, the result was a 4% increase in the number of successful births. And for women who had experienced three or more recurrent miscarriages, the number jumped to a 15% increase.

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Dr. Arri Coomarasamy, Professor of Gynecology at the University of Birmingham and Director of Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research, said the implications for that group are "huge." "Our finding that women who are at risk of a miscarriage because of current pregnancy bleeding and a history of a previous miscarriage could benefit from progesterone treatment has huge implications for practice," he said.

It's estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. And while even a spot of blood no doubt increases the fear in every expectant mother's mind, bleeding is actually a very common occurrence during pregnancy, Coomarasamy said. Still, first trimester bleeding is particularly risky, with a third of women who experience it going on to miscarry.

So for women who have been through it multiple times, Coomarasamy's findings are an important avenue to explore. "This treatment could save thousands of babies who may have otherwise been lost to a miscarriage," he added.

The study is among a number of recent groundbreaking discoveries made by doctors looking to further understand what causes miscarriages and what can be done to prevent them. While about 70% of miscarriages are attributed to chromosomal abnormalities, doctors recently learned that certain genetic abnormalities, which exist in a small group of parents-to-be, could be discovered by testing the mother and father, as well as the embryo.

Doctors have also discovered that even knowing the sex of your baby could predict the complications a mother may face, thus helping medical professionals to assist in keeping the pregnancy viable.

But while there is no sweeping solution to stop miscarriages, for some couples, the use of progesterone does offer a glimmer of hope. "The results from this study are important for parents who have experienced miscarriage," Jane Brewin, chief executive of Tommy's said. "They now have a robust and effective treatment option which will save many lives and prevent much heartache."

Brewin added that studies like this one are imperative to our understanding of how the creation of life, which remains both a miracle and a mystery, truly works. "It gives us confidence to believe that further research will yield more treatments and ultimately make many more miscarriages preventable," she said.

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It's never easy to give up a career and launch a whole new one, but when I decided to end my time as an opera singer and move into the field of sales, I knew I could do it. After all, I had the perfect role model: my mom.

When I was growing up, she worked as a dental hygienist, but when I started college, she took some courses in sales. She was single with two kids in college, which was a driving force to make more money. But above that, she truly had a passion for sales. In no time, she got jobs and excelled at them, ultimately earning her the title of Vendor Representative of the Year at her electronics company.

When I entered the field of sales, an unusual and unexpected twist followed. Several years into my career, I was hired by a different electronics company. My mom and I ended up selling similar products to some of the same businesses. (Neither of our companies realized this, and we have different last names.)

But rather than feeling uncomfortable, I saw this as a great opportunity. She and I were both committed to doing our best. More often than not, she beat me when we went after the same piece of business. But in the process, I learned so much from her. I was able to see how her work ethic, commitment and style drove her success. I had even more to emulate.

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Here are some of the biggest business lessons I learned from my working mom:

1. Use your existing skill set to differentiate yourself.

As a dental hygienist, my mom knew how to talk to people and make them feel comfortable. She had also served as a youth leader at three different churches where my dad preached. In each town, she found at-risk kids, brought them together and developed programs for them. She had learned how to help people improve themselves and make their lives better.

In sales, she did the same thing, focusing on how the products or services she was selling could genuinely make a difference in the lives of her customers. Those skills translated seamlessly into her new career.

2. Start strong from day one—don't wait for permission to launch your full potential.

From day one at a job, my mom showed up with energy and vigor to get going. She didn't take time to be tentative. Instead, she leaned into her tasks—the equivalent of blasting out of the gate in a race. Having seen how well this worked for her, I strive to do the same.

3. Have empathy, it's essential.

Many women have been falsely accused of being "too emotional" in business. However, empathy is a necessity and drives better results. As a businesswoman, my mom set herself apart by demonstrating genuine empathy for her clients and her colleagues. She loves getting to know people's stories. That understanding is a key component in her finalizing deals and helping her company reach higher levels of success.

4. Learn often—you're never done building your skill set.

My mom is the reason I spend at least three months out of each year getting a new certification or learning a new skill. She's always working to improve, harness new technologies or develop new competencies—and she's passed on that eagerness to learn to me. She knows that to stay on top, you have to keep learning.

5. Bring on the charm.

By nature, I'm analytical. I like to present the numbers to clients, showing the data to help sway their decisions. And that has its place, but charm is universal. Being someone people want to do business with makes a huge difference. If I had a nickel for every time a prospect told me, "I love your mother," I could retire now! Business, especially sales, is about the connections you make as much as the value you bring.

Our paths have taken our careers in different directions, but along the way, I've done my best to incorporate all these skills. Thank you, mom, for teaching me all this, and much more.

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Every mom has her own list of character traits each of she hopes to instill in her children, but there is one that stands out as a big priority for the majority of millennial mothers.

Motherly's 2019 State of Motherhood survey revealed that kindness is incredibly important to today's moms. It is the number one trait we want to cultivate in our children, and according to stats from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, this emphasis on kindness couldn't come at a better time.

In recent years kids and parents have been straying from kindness, but these Ivy League experts have some great ideas about how today's moms can get the next generation back on track so they can become the caring adults of tomorrow.

Between 2013 and 2014, as part of Harvard's Making Caring Common project, researchers surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students across the nation. They found that no matter what race, class or culture the kids identified with, the majority of the students surveyed valued their own personal success and happiness way more than that of others.

Why do kids value their own success so much more than things like caring and fairness? Well, apparently, mom and dad told them to.

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Eighty percent of the 10,000 students said their parents taught them that their own happiness and high achievement were more important than caring for others. (So much for sharing is caring.)

The folks at Harvard say that valuing your own ambition is obviously a good thing (in moderation) in today's competitive world, but prioritizing it so much more than ethical values like kindness, caring and fairness makes kids more likely to be cruel, disrespectful and dishonest.

So how do we fix this? Here's Harvard's four-step plan for raising kinder kids.

1. Help them practice being nice

Giving kids daily opportunities to practice caring and kind acts helps make ethical behavior second nature. They could help you with chores, help a friend with homework or work on a project to help homelessness.

All those tasks would help a child flex their empathy muscles. The key is to increase the challenges over time so your child can develop a stronger capacity for caregiving as they grow.

2. Help them see multiple perspectives

The researchers want kids to “zoom in" and listen closely to the people around them, but also see the bigger picture. “By zooming out and taking multiple perspectives, including the perspectives of those who are too often invisible (such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn't speak their language, or the school custodian), young people expand their circle of concern and become able to consider the justice of their communities and society," the study's authors' wrote.

3. Model kindness

Our kids are watching, so if we want them to be kinder, it's something we should try to cultivate in ourselves. The Harvard team suggests parents make an effort to widen our circles of concern and deepen our understanding of issues of fairness and justice.

4. Teach kids to cope with destructive feelings

According to the researchers, the ability to care about others can be overwhelmed by a kid's feelings of anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings. They suggest we teach our kids teach that while all feelings are okay to feel, some ways of dealing with them are not helpful, or kind (for example, “Hitting your classmate might make you happy, but it won't make them happy and isn't very kind. Counting to 10 and talking about why you're mad is more productive than hitting.")

While the folks at Harvard are concerned that so many kids are being taught to value their own happiness above all, they were also encouraged by the students who do prioritize caring and kindness. One of the students surveyed wrote, “People should always put others before themselves and focus on contributing something to the world that will improve life for future generations."

If we follow the advice of Harvard researchers, the world will see more kids that think like that, and that's what future generations need.

[A version of this post was originally published November 8, 2017. It has been updated.]

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These days more women are having babies into their 40s, but the idea that women are facing down the biological clock is pretty pervasive—once you're over 35, you automatically receive that "advanced maternal age" classification, while your male partner's age may never even be mentioned. The pressure on older moms is unfair, because according to new research from Rutgers University, men may face age-related fertility decline too and America's dads are getting older.

It's a new idea, but this finding actually takes 40 years worth of research into account—which, coincidentally, is around the age male fertility may start to decline. According to Rutgers researchers, the medical community hasn't quite pinpointed the onset of advanced age, but it hovers somewhere between ages 35 and 45.

The study which appears in the journal Maturitas, finds that a father's age may not just affect his fertility, but also the health of his partner and offspring.

Based on previously conducted research, the team behind this study found evidence that men over 45 could put their partners at greater risk for pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Babies born to older fathers also have an increased likelihood of premature birth, late stillbirth, low Apgar scores, low birthweight, newborn seizures and more. The risks appear to exist later in life, too: Research suggests children of older fathers have greater risk of childhood cancers, cognitive issues and autism.

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There's been plenty of studies surrounding advanced maternal age, but research on advanced paternal age is pretty slim—scientists don't quite understand how age correlates to these factors at this point. But researchers from Rutgers believe that age-related decline in testosterone and sperm quality degradation may be to blame. "Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, in men, sperm also tend to lose 'fitness' over the life cycle," Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women's Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, explains in a release for this news.

As we've previously reported, more and more men are waiting until later in life to have children. According to a 2017 Stanford study, children born to fathers over 40 represent 9% of U.S. births, and the average age of first-time fathers has climbed by three-and-a-half years over the past four decades —so this research matters now more than ever, and it may represent the first step towards setting certain standards in place for men who choose to delay parenthood.

The biggest thing to come out of this research may be the need for more awareness surrounding advanced paternal age. This particular study's authors believe doctors should be starting to have conversations with their male patients, possibly even encouraging them to consider banking sperm if they're considering parenthood later in life.

Women certainly tend to be aware of the age-related risks to their fertility, and many regularly hear that they should freeze their eggs if they're not ready for motherhood. And while it's still too early to say whether we'll ever examine paternal age this closely, this research may set a whole new conversation in motion.

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