For the past 30 days, I have committed to a practice of bettering myself, moving my body, and becoming more deeply aware in my motherhood.
After the birth of my third child in four and a half years, I jumped back into exercise and motherhood, foolishly hoping that all of my routines would pick off where they left off. But after a stint at a pelvic floor physical therapist and weeks readjusting to motherhood, another version of my post-partum body, and living life, everything needed gentleness… and a break.
In an effort to heal myself during this time, I dedicated myself to a yoga practice in a way I never have before.
All of my greatest shifts happen when I commit fully, so I opted in for a 30 day practice of yoga, allowing my body to heal and my mind to accept whatever my body was able to produce.
What happened over these 30 days changed my physical body, and offered me a new sense of grace for all the parts of me, on and off the mat.
It is often forgotten that motherhood, like yoga, is a daily practice. There are so many variables that go into both practices that make a difference with how one is able to show up physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. While there is an instinctual doing for both practices, so much of what happens on and off the mat is influenced by everything else happening around us.
Like in motherhood, the most important factor in my daily yoga practice was contingent on how I had slept the night before.
A broken night’s sleep, curled into a question mark so that my children could also rest beside me, affected how my body moved and felt on my yoga mat.
It also affected how I showed up as Mom. It affected how much patience I was able to demonstrate with ease. It affected how deeply the actions of my children triggered me. And it affected my willingness to Mom-on when all I really wanted to do was take a nap.
In my yoga practice, sleep was a major influence on how my body felt, how deeply into a posture I was willing to go, and how much I tried to push my body. It also was a factor in how long I decided to practice for. If I was really tired, perhaps I’d practice for 20 minutes. However, if I felt more energized, I would practice for longer, even choosing power yoga or a practice with inversions that pushed me to see what I was capable of.
How I allowed myself to be in my mind deeply affected how I showed up in my body and my parenting.
Over 30 days, I also noticed that what was happening in my personal life greatly affected my daily practices of yoga and motherhood.
Throughout my month of practice, I had experienced moments of pure joy and connection with those I love the most.
During these moments, I felt like a rock-star on the mat and in my motherhood. I was present. I was able to move with ease, and bend a little deeper each time. I enjoyed sitting and doing absolutely nothing with my kids. My mind rested during Savasana. My heart expanded watching my children.
However, throughout my month of yoga, I also experienced discord with a friend. And when my mind would consume me with thoughts about the ending of this relationship, I felt bad.
Some days, these thoughts occupied my mind on the mat. They affected my ability to flow and let go. I would notice thoughts about what others were doing or weren’t doing. I recognized thoughts about feeling left out or misunderstood. And in return, my yoga practice suffered. Single leg or balancing postures felt hard. In these moments, I wanted to quit. During these moments, I wanted to quit.
In my motherhood, I grew short. I felt I constantly needed to move and keep busy with doing things. I noticed that because I was feeling badly for myself, I was more likely to snap at my kids. I was easy to agitate, and looked for ways to escape parenting, if even for a few moments.
Luckily, the solution to dis-ease in both practices was the same. No matter where or how I was showing up in either practice, focusing my attention on my breath changed everything.
If I was experiencing resistance in an asana, I could refocus my mind to my breath, and breathe more deeply in to that physical space.
In the same regard, if I was overwhelmed and feeling like I wanted to explode in my motherhood, a few connections to my breath seemed to lighten the load.
No matter where I was in my mind, in my body, or in my motherhood, my breath could bring me back to what was, centering me, helping me to feel grounded, and allowing me the gift of perspective and calmness.
Although I have spent the past 30 days examining my physical practice and my motherhood, both movement and parenting are something that I experience every day.
These 30 days have given me a deeper look into how readily I embrace either. One thing I know for sure is that both yoga and motherhood are spiritual practices, meant to show how to bend, how to embrace all that is happening, and how to tune in to breath as a tool to release resistance and go deeper.
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