As moms, we need a little self-care. We’re often busy caring for everyone else’s needs that we forget about our own. Yoga is one way that I like to practice self-care.
A Simple Way To Get Started With Yoga At Home
In the past few years, I’ve discovered that I really love yoga, but I’ve always feared going to classes. I’m afraid I won’t know what I’m doing, and I wouldn’t be able to follow along. It has stopped me from joining classes, or I sign up and never go. I end up giving them a nice donation every month thinking I’ll get the courage to go. But man, the donations add up!
It doesn’t just stop at fear. Then there’s time. What I’ve realized is that I DO have time. I have to MAKE time and to find it might look a little different than I imagined. Trying to coordinate schedules with family can be hard. Right now, making time is finding a space in my home and carving out little nuggets of time in my day where I CAN fit things in to do what I want to do. Sometimes it is easier not to, but I NEED to if I want to be the best mom that I can be.
When the tension, stress, and anxiety begin to take its toll, I have to do something about it. My shoulders end up at my ears and my jaw is clenched. This is when I know I need Yoga. Sometimes, all I want to do is sit on the couch and watch TV after a long day. Instead, I talk myself into getting down on the floor and do something my body will thank me for.
I’m No Yogi, But I Started Anyway
I could say I know a few poses. I’ve been to a few yoga classes here and there. I’ve watched a few tutorials online, and I’ve saved a lot of yoga Pinterest pins. However, thinking about following along in a yoga sequence is enough to make me sweat. The instructor calling out poses to transition to when I’m still figuring out the last one I was supposed to be in is overwhelming. Keeping the lights dimmed in a yoga studio wasn’t enough to keep me going. I had to figure something else out.
I was lucky enough to have a fellow teacher on the school campus where I work, lead classes after school for some time. She was going to teach at her local yoga studio and wanted the practice. Most of us who came to the class had limited experience with yoga, so she took the time to explain the poses and what all those words that end in “sana” meant. For once, I wasn’t afraid of what I looked like and could concentrate on trying to twist my body into the poses. This was my kind of class.
Get started with yoga
Scared or not, time or no time, I did like the way yoga made me feel. Now, I was at least confident enough to get on my floor at home and try a few things. And honestly, as age creeps upward, having carried four babies, and the stress of life itself, this body needs it.
I know you’re wondering how you can get started if you’ve never done yoga before. Or maybe you want to know how I decided to get yoga in my life almost every day. Let me tell you this. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be hard. Most of the time it is stretches with fancy names. Half of them I did when I ran cross country when I was in high school a million years ago and didn’t know it was a yoga pose. If you can stretch, you can do yoga. And if they have yoga for seniors, as in senior citizens, you can do it too. All I know is that if you don’t already do it, try it! It makes your body feel so good afterward. Whether it is an aching body part that needs attention or your mind, yoga helps.
My body loves me so much more when I do yoga. I notice my flexibility and my balance goes out the window when I don’t. Those two things are very important to keep in check as you get older. I hate feeling like I can’t move around as easily as I did before. In my case, a lot of repetitive movements like lifting babies and hovering over students have lent a hand to my cricks, cracks, and aches.
I decided I would start practicing yoga by committing to memory at least 5 poses. When I remembered the 5, I added more. I would make it a point to do it every day or at least during the weekdays. That way I would be more likely to make yoga a habit and remember a pose or two. If you already practice yoga you can mix in the poses you know and learn a few new ones.
I usually like to learn new poses that will help the areas that I want to work on, like poses that test my balance. I also make sure that I incorporate poses that will loosen up the tension I tend to carry between my shoulder blades to give me more mobility and move less like a robot. All in all, I spend about 20 minutes a day on yoga. I’m also known to just stop whatever it is that I’m doing and strike a pose right then and there. You gotta do what you gotta do right?
In the beginning, I had to sit with my phone next to keep looking at the poses to figure out what to do. Last year, I found a really simple book at Barnes and Noble in the discount section. It was cheap, and it explains all the yoga basics, poses for different needs, and steps for getting into a pose. There are also yoga sequences to try. It is so easy to follow and understand. I now know and understand more. I still use my resources, but not in the middle of a yoga session.
Before You Start
Remember to Breathe!
Remembering to breathe while doing yoga is super important. When I don’t pay attention to my breath I actually do the opposite. I don’t breathe. Eeek! I hold my breath which seems odd to do, but people do it often when they should be breathing through the exercise. When do you breathe, you ask? I’m not an expert on yoga breathing, but a simple way that I make sure I breathe is to inhale before I start the pose and exhale as I go into a pose or the difficult part of the pose. It’s amazing how much it helps you to be more successful with the stretch.
I try to stay in a pose for at least 5 breath cycles, but you may choose to stay longer because sometimes it feels that good, Meaning, I breathe in and out slowly five times while holding the pose. That way I’ve given the pose a chance to work. Now I understand why gym rats at the gym breathe so loudly. Sometimes you need that stronger breath to push through. However, I still think they’re a bit ridiculous. When my breathing gets loud, I know that whatever I’m doing is hard!
How Flexible Are You?
Are you flexible? Yoga has great stretches that increase and test your flexibility. You can hold a pose or stretch, come back up, and then go back into it again. You’ll find that you’re able to stretch even farther. It feels good when my daughter is stretching alongside me and I can stretch further than her. That’s a secret win for me. By the way, it’s best to do yoga when your body is warmed up. You’ll be able to accomplish much more with your body.
Get In The Mindset
Be sure to get yourself in the mindset of a calm mind to concentrate on your yoga poses. You’ll be more likely to get into the pose, and less likely to hurt yourself. Start by taking a few deep breaths while standing. I also do this at any point in the day when I am stressed, overwhelmed, or need a brain break. Take at least 3 deep breaths. I do this in the classroom with my students as well. A school day can get stressful for both students and the teacher.
Standing tall, take in a breath, bringing your arms up above your head like a ballerina. Breathe out as you bring your arms back down. I call it rainbows when the kids are involved. Do this a few times before you start. It’s a nice calming way to get yourself ready for what’s next in yoga, or anything, really. Some people may choose to sit quietly, with crossed legs for a few moments, and then do some breaths seated.
If you browse over the poses I have listed, you’ll notice I’ve listed more than 5. That’s because some are easy to do and nice to stick in after you’ve done a more challenging pose. Child’s Pose is a great one for that. But by all means, if it looks like too much to take in, only do 5. Yoga is to help take away the stress, not add more.
Which Yoga Poses should you try?
There are so many yoga poses. Poses can start off easy and then transform into something very difficult. Be sure you do yoga safely and know your limitations. And if you don’t do it often you can expect to be sore. It’s also good to note that flexibility and balance can vary from day to day. Just the other day my daughter and I did a few yoga poses together. Today she watched me and said, “Mom, yesterday you were so stable. Not today!”
I’ve listed my go-to poses that often help me. Most of the poses I choose to do relax my tight muscles or relieve pain. Whatever I do, I notice it always relaxes my mind. As you read through my suggestions and poses I’ve listed, please remember that I am not a yoga instructor and this information is all from my own experience. If you are unfamiliar with yoga, or any poses, you should be sure to do your own research on what would be good for your body. I had to put that out there just in case.
Standing Poses That I Love
I’ve given a few directions on how to get into these poses if you’re not familiar, but I suggest doing a search online that can show you pictures and give more of an explanation. I wanted to be able to show how you can easily create a sequence, or go from one pose to another.
1. Forward Fold
This is one of those flexibility stretches I was talking about. As you slowly bend down to touch your toes or the floor, see how flat you can get your hands on the floor each time you go down. You can also hold your elbows and sway from side to side.
2. Downward Facing Dog Pose
This is a great pose to either go into from a standing pose or down to a floor pose. It offers a good stretch to the calves, hamstrings, and more. Starting with a forward fold, put your hands on the ground, bend your knees to get there, and step your feet back one at a time to get into Downward Dog.
3. Warrior 1 and 2
These are good poses to go into from Downward Dog. From Down Dog position, take one foot and step in between your two arms, slowly bringing your torso upright and keeping your arms straight, as you raise them above your head for Warrior 1. For Warrior 2, Turn your body to the side. With your front foot still facing forward and your back foot perpendicular, or facing the same way as your torso. Hold your arms out to either side and look towards your fingertips on your hand in front. Be sure your front knee does not bend further than your front toes. Don’t forget to switch to the other side.
4. Tree Pose
Now, this is probably one of my favorite standing poses. Maybe because I like to measure my balance. I can always tell which side isn’t doing so well when my tree wants to topple over. Be sure not to rest your foot on your knee while doing this pose. You can keep your foot below the knee if you’re wobbling too much. To bring your hands above your head start with them together at your chest like you’re praying. Then slowly raise them above your head. Finding something to focus on helps to keep your balance. Switch your legs to try your balance on the other side.
The easy thing about yoga is that you can start with standing or sitting poses. If you’re tired, the floor might work best. You can even do a few rainbow breaths seated to get you started. There are so many helpful floor poses that get your body feeling right.
5. Cobra Pose
Cobra pose has a lot of benefits, but I enjoy doing it because I feel like I get a good stretch from my chest to my belly. It is also used a lot when doing easy sequences. You can literally start by lying down! Put your hands under your shoulders and slowly push yourself up, lifting your chest. You can go back down after a few breaths and repeat, or push yourself up into Downward Facing Dog.
6. Cow-Face Pose
After my third baby, second c-section, I started getting muscle spasms in my chest and rib area. When I’m bent over too much, or put a lot of strain in that area the muscles can start to spasm. It can leave me doubled over until it stops. So, finding a pose that stretches out my chest and ribs really helps. You can use the above picture to help you with this pose. See if you can grab your fingertips with your other hand.
7. Half Spinal Twist Pose
I’ve always done something like this before or after a run or workout. After I started doing more yoga, I paid attention to my form. I started incorporating this pose because it can help with digestion. It also gives a nice stretch to each side of the body.
Wind down Poses
These next few poses are always a must at the end of my yoga session.
8. Cat/Cow Pose
You can’t do yoga without a few repetitions of Cat-Cow.
9. Child’s Pose
As I mentioned before, Child’s Pose is a great pose to intermingle with other poses, especially more challenging ones. This pose is a good one for giving your body a moment of rest before you move on to another pose, or at the end of your yoga session as you wind down.
10. Shavasana or Corpse Pose
I often think about skipping this pose because I might hear the children beckoning me from some corner of the house. I do it anyway because it is one of the most relaxing, mind-calming exercises to do. It is about the only way I can quiet my mind and think about nothing at all. I recommend lying there, eyes closed, not moving until your body feels ready to roll over to your side and get up. This pose can also be used for meditation. If your children find you they may think you’re sleeping and give you a few extra minutes to yourself. Unless you are asleep. Fat chance, right?!
Last Thing Before You Get Started
As I said, I’m not a Yogi and I’m not a yoga teacher. I don’t know everything there is to know about yoga, but I do know it is a great way to practice self-care. It was important to me to help you get started with something that does wonders for your mind, body, and soul. This way, you can feel confident with at least the basics of yoga when you do decide to sign up for that class you’ve always wanted to take.
I used to think yoga was too slow and boring. It can be what you want it to be. At one time I thought I wanted a fast-paced class. I was worked so hard I felt like I had to vomit, and was sore for about 3 days. I no longer feel the need for that type of class. So, decide how you want it to help you and start your research. YouTube is an excellent resource for this. My friend Sinead at Yogaphysiozone has posted some classes on her YouTube Channel. The classes are for beginners, but if you know yoga, there is always a way to make it a challenge. Sinead gives good direction and keeps safety in mind.
Have I given you a new self-care habit to try? Or have I brought back to life one that you once loved? Let me know if you’ve embarked on a yoga journey to take care of yourself in some way. I want to know! Comment below. If you know anyone that would enjoy reading this post, please share.