Three Ways to Relax into Motherhood
I parent hard. After driving to 11 different stores to find the right glue stick for my 6-year-old’s school project, then panicking that I bought the wrong glue stick for my 6-year-old’s school project, then worrying I left the glue stick in the grocery store bathroom, I can feel overwhelmed. Luckily, I’ve learned how to relax through these sticky parenting situations, but I didn’t start out that way.
As a first-time mother, I was overcome by feelings of worry and self-doubt every time my newborn blinked. This tension was taking over my daily life, and I was running on a stress level like I’d never known. I decided to shift my focus and concentrate on more positive thoughts, and take the time to employ a few yoga-based techniques to help support my new outlook. Here’s how I went from stressed out mom to chilled-out mama.
Staying In The Present: “Concentrating on your breath can clear your mind from worries and stresses,” says Brandi Leslie, yoga instructor for Yoga Baum and Waterside Wellness. “A simple breathing technique used for relaxation is to inhale for 4 seconds, hold that breath for a count of 7, and then exhale slowly for 8 counts.” When my mind jumps into the future and worries about all I haven’t accomplished, I breathe and come back to the present. This way I don’t miss out on laughing with my son or listening, and I’m able to stay fully engaged in the connection I share with my family.
Letting It Go: I’m a planner, but I quickly discovered not much goes according to plan in the land of motherhood. No matter how many diapers I methodically packed, I always needed more. No matter how many lists I made, I always left something out. I’d berate myself for being unprepared, until I realized this only served to sour my day. Choosing to “go with the flow” has helped me step more easily into a new plan and let go of the old, unworkable one. A yoga pose to complement this ”letting go” mindset is Standing Forward Fold. Brandi says, “It’s a mild inversion that reduces stress and energizes.” To practice Standing Forward Fold, stand with your feet flat on the floor and place your hands on your hips. On an exhale, fold forward over your legs and put your hands on your ankles or on the floor. Take a deep inhale as you come up to standing and then fully exhale.
Knowing I Can Handle It: My big fear as a first-time mom was a result of questioning my parenting skills. Standing strong in my belief that I’ll be able to handle those tricky parenting problems has helped me feel more grounded in my ability to guide my kid. To get grounded, Brandi suggests the active standing pose Tadasana (or Mountain Pose). “This pose helps you feel strong and rooted. Stand tall so that your shoulders are over your hips, and feel the floor underneath your feet. On an inhale, raise your arms out to the side, and then up over your head, and on an exhale bring them back down. Stand and breathe deeply.”
Motherhood can be a wild ride. On the days I parent hard, I know when I take time to relax and breathe, I’m a more positive and engaged mama. Brandi says, “As we walk out into the world, we want to feel like we can do that wholeheartedly. In order to do that, we need to love ourselves enough to take care of ourselves.”