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

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.

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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[Trigger warning: This essay describes a woman's emotional journey with postpartum anxiety.]

I see you, mama.

I know you don't want to feel this way. I know you're terrified of everything in the world right now. I know you want to wrap your baby in a bubble and keep them safely in your arms forever. I know you can't "sleep when the baby sleeps" because you are too nervous to drift off in case they stop breathing. I know you don't want to let anyone near your little one because they could be carrying an illness. I know you've cried in the bathroom and begged for the voice to stop. And I know you love your child more than anything in the world.

I know because I was you.

I was in the 10% of estimated women who are affected by Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) but had no idea what I was experiencing. I worried about EVERY little thing but just brushed the fears aside, thinking this was just normal of first-time motherhood. But it was something more.

I lived in constant fear that my son was either going to get hurt or he was going to die.

It started the first week of being home from the hospital. I was so scared of SIDS that I actually googled "How much sleep do I need in order to survive?" I would only get two to three hours, not because my child was keeping me up, but because I was scared he would stop breathing and I wouldn't be awake to save him.

I would religiously wash all of his clothes with baby detergent and if I thought I mistakenly used regular detergent, I would rewash everything. I was afraid he would get a skin rash if I didn't. If my husband had the slightest hint of a cold, I would banish him to the guest room and handle all of the baby duties on my own until he was fully recovered.

I would wash and rewash bottles because I was afraid they weren't clean enough and convinced myself if I didn't then he would catch a rare illness. When we supplemented with formula, I wasted multiple cans because I was so scared I didn't measure it correctly, so I would dump it and start over.

I didn't want to be this way. I didn't want to let PPA be the thief of my joy, but anxiety doesn't care who you are or what you've been through. I knew my previous miscarriages attributed to my PTSD, which manifested into anxiety.

I knew I needed help.

I cried so many nights as my husband and baby boy slept because I just wanted to feel "normal." I didn't want to overanalyze every bump or rash or cough, I wanted to enjoy being a first time mom, but I felt like I was drowning.

On top of the anxiety was guilt. I had wanted this baby so badly—I wanted to feel joy, happiness, and gratitude, and yet I felt overwhelmed, sad, and miserable. What was happening?

I would tell myself not to worry, I'd try to convince myself a regular cold was just a cold. But then a voice would come into my head and make me second guess myself. What if it was a serious infection and became fatal if I ignored it? So I rushed my baby boy to the doctor every time I thought something was wrong.

I went to the pediatrician over 20 times in my son's first year of life. One time I went because I thought he had a cancerous mole, which turned out to be a piece of lint stuck to his hair. I felt like I was losing control of myself.

Eventually, when my son was 3 months old, I went to a therapist for help. I needed someone to hear me and give me the tools to overcome this. I am not without daily anxiety, I still have many fears and I have to bring myself back to reality, but I work on it every day. I cope and I make an effort to continue with my therapist so I can beat this.

Even though this topic is hard to write about, I have no shame in my story. Carrying a child is hard, giving birth is harder, and jumping onto the roller coaster of motherhood is one hormonal, wild ride.

Mamas, we are allowed to not be okay and we have every right to make that known. I wasn't okay and it took every ounce of strength I had to get myself out of the darkness.

If I could tell you anything about struggling with this, it is this: PPA is real, it is not normal, and getting help is okay. Do not feel ashamed, do not feel embarrassed, and don't for one second think you owe anyone an explanation.

Do not let a single person make you feel like you are less of a mother. You are a magnificent human being, a loving mama bear, and you will get through this.

I see you, and I'm holding space for you.

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Ready to bring a baby on board? Feelings of excitement can often be met with those of financial concern as you prep for this milestone. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of 2015, the cost of raising a child is $233,610—a number that can make anyone's jaw drop to the floor.

But before you start to worry, here are ways you can become more financially savvy before the baby is born:

1. Budget for healthcare costs

The cost of delivering a baby can vary by state, but suffice it to say it can be thousands of dollars. Castlight Health found that the lowest average cost of delivery was $6,075 in Kansas City, MO and the highest average cost $15,420 in Sacramento, CA. Costs are even higher for a Cesarean delivery.

The first thing you want to do is check your insurance and see what they will cover so what you will be responsible for. Then create a separate savings account so that you can cover any costs that you're on the hook for. You can set up automatic savings after each payday up until the baby is born to help assist with any healthcare costs associated with delivery.

2. Cut your expenses

Before the baby arrives, do a spending audit and see where you can slash some expenses. Free up any leftover money to help cover the increased costs that will come, such as food, clothes, and formula.

If you're struggling with how to do that, take a look at all of your expenses and write next to each either"want" or "need." Look at your "want" list and see which expenses are ones you can either eliminate or cut back on. If it doesn't bring you joy or add value, ditch it! You might even find subscriptions that you didn't know you had.

3. Go for second-hand goods

Of course, there are some things you definitely want to buy new for baby, but things like clothes and toys you can get second hand and save a lot of money. Your baby will grow so fast and buying new clothes every few months can add up. If your family members or friends have old baby clothes or toys they're willing to part with, it will save money and you can pay it forward down the line.

4. Look for sales or coupons

Clothes and toys are items that you can buy second hand, but products, like a car seat and crib are best new. You want to be up-to-date with safety and know what you're getting. Before going shopping, search for sales or coupons before you head out. A little research online can go a long way and save you hundreds.

5. Have a garage sale

If you need to make room for baby, it's time to get rid of items that you no longer use or need. Take all of the stuff you are planning to get rid of and have a garage sale to make extra money. You can also try selling online on Craigslist, Poshmark and OfferUp too.

Take the money you earn from selling your stuff and put it in your savings account earmarked for your baby.

6. Get a 529 plan

It's never too early to save for your baby's college. You can open a state-sponsored 529 plan which is a tax-advantaged savings account for education-related costs. Instead of asking for gifts or toys from family and friends, you can request money to go toward a 529 plan. It will be an impactful gift that will help your child in the future and help lessen the financial burden on you.

7. Prep now instead of later

Your whole world will change when your baby arrives, so in order to save money, time and stress, create a plan now. Is there a family or friend close by who can babysit if you need some rest or have to run an errand? Ask them now if they can help out.

Start preparing meals in bulk that can be in the freezer and easily made so you don't have to think about food. Put your bills on autopay so that you don't miss any payments and get hit with late fees. Know how long you can get maternity or paternity leave and understand how that will affect your income and budget. Getting all of this ready ahead of time can help you in the long run.

8. Purchase life insurance

While thinking about why you need life insurance can be a bit stressful, preparation is essential, especially when you're adding another member to your family. Life insurance will provide financial support if you had a loss of income due to something happening to either you or your partner.

9. Understand any tax benefits

The birth of your baby will affect your taxes, which can actually end up putting more money back into your pocket. Do some research online and see how a dependent will change your taxes in your state, such as new exemptions available. Or, find a trusted accountant or tax specialist in your area who can walk you through your options.

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We've had some struggles, you and me. In my teens, we were just getting to know each other. It was a rocky road at times, like when people referred to you as "big boned." I was learning how to properly fuel you by giving you the right foods. How to be active, to keep you strong and in good shape. I wish I knew then what I do now about you and what a true blessing you are. But that's something that has come with the gift of motherhood.

In my 20's, we became more well-acquainted. I knew how to care for you. After I got engaged, we worked so hard together to get into "wedding shape." And, looking back now, I totally took that six pack—okay, four pack—for granted. (But I have the pictures to prove it.)

Now that I'm in my 30's (how did my 30's happen so fast, btw?) with two kids, I'm coming to terms with my new postpartum body.

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If there are two things a mama is guaranteed to love, it's Target plus adorable and functional baby products. Target's exclusive baby brand Cloud Island has been a favorite destination for cute and affordable baby clothing and décor for nearly two years and because of that success, they're now expanding into baby essentials. 🙌

The new collection features 30 affordable products starting at $0.99 and going up to $21.99 with most items priced under $10—that's about 30-40% less expensive than other products in the market. Mamas can now enjoy adding diapers, wipes, feeding products and toiletries to their cart alongside clothing and accessories from a brand they already know and love.

The best part? The Target team has ensured that the affordability factor doesn't cut down on durability by working with hundreds of parents to create and test the collection. The wipes are ultra-thick and made with 99% water and plant-based ingredients, while the toiletries are dermatologist-approved. With a Tri-Wrap fold, the diapers offer 12-hour leak protection and a snug fit so parents don't have to sacrifice safety or functionality.

So when can you start shopping? Starting on January 20, customers can shop the collection across all stores and online. We can't wait to see how this beloved brand expands in the future.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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