Before becoming a parent I never understood how anyone didn’t have time to practice yoga. It seemed so simple really, you wake up, you do your yoga, then you get on with your day. After having my first child and diving into the land of sleep deprivation and care taking, I started to understand why people told me they had trouble having time to practice. It was no longer just my schedule to contend with. I had a baby who needed me and his schedule varied and did not include a full night of sleep. If he slept in, I slept in as a way to replenish my weary body. If he was hungry I was there to feed him. None of this followed a strict schedule and hence knowing when and how long to practice became more complicated than just deciding.
Within four months of my baby boy’s birth I began the work it took to open my own business, and after sleepless nights, countless emails and phone calls, planning sessions, contract negotiations, and overall anxiety, I needed a regular practice more than ever. Yet, my sense of what that looked like changed. Now two kids in, I am back to the beginning. However this time I have developed some guidelines to help encourage my practice, even amidst the chaos.
Gotta take a break…baby crying.
Okay. I’m back. Rule 1: Make time for yourself. No one is going to do this for you. Do not blame your kids, your spouse, your work. You are the only one who can choose how to spend your time. Give it to yourself. If need be, let things fall apart and don’t pick them up.
Rule 2: Let go of what practice is “supposed” to look like. Remember the days when you had two hours to practice before breakfast. They are over. Say goodbye. The real practice now is being a parent. It is a full time, all consuming job. Let your yoga practice support your parenting. Create a new routine and time to practice, that is realistic given the demands placed on you. YOU WILL BE INTERRUPTED. When this happens, take a deep breath and move on. You may have to abandon what you are doing all together but you can always come back to it, even if it is hours later. One of the things I appreciate about my father is anytime I drop in on him, at work or at home, he always stops what he is doing and gives me his full attention. We can do the same for our children. It’s practice in non-attachment. Let go and begin again over and over again.
Rule 3: Incorporate your children. Before my daughter could crawl I laid her on the middle of my mat and practiced around her. It was kind of like making a mandala. Now, I lift her on my legs and let her crawl on my back. When my son was younger I did sun salutes while I held him in between my legs.
Rule 4: Know when it is time to stop. Was it a whimper or a sob? Does she really need you or can she work it out on her own? This is good practice for parenting, learning when to involve ourselves and when to let our kids figure it out on their own.
Rule 5: Take many deep breaths many times throughout the day all day.