(Written by YogaToday instructor, Amanda Botur)
As a yoga teacher and mom of three, I can say with relative certainty that at some point or another any mother reaches a tipping point (Editor’s note: learn more about the author, Amanda Botur). I often feel it rise in my body, starting slowly at my feet. If I leave it unchecked, it feels like an uncontrollable surge of so many different feelings and emotions that the word “overwhelm” takes on a whole new meaning. Interestingly, this is the same word expressed by mothers I work with, friends, and even my own mother. A woman’s world, a mama’s world, can get very full, very quickly. What starts as joy watching my son bake cookies for the first time ends in, “OMG what a mess!”
Tending to our own well-being and exploring self-healing can easily fall to the back burner, but here are a few helpful tips that can help us stay aligned, keeping us connected to ourselves, and our children or circumstances.
Like anything, there is a trigger that can begin the spiral of anxiety. Know your triggers, know your menstrual cycle, and take care of your hormones so those tender times of the month are cared for, and the volatility that can sometimes come with it, assuaged by good self-care. Get really good at noticing when you begin to feel anxious, and nip it in the bud by staying present and telling yourself, “I know I have a million things to do, but right now I’m making my kid’s lunch. I’m (fill in the blank) and so on.” When we identify stressors earlier in the process, we can (ideally) give ourselves the space to calm down for we are in full blown panic mode.
Practice pausing before reacting. That moment of pause can change everything, truly. Again, give yourself the space to breathe, observe, and give yourself distance between the stimulus and response. Have time for a meditation or yoga class? Join me for a 10 minute meditation or my class, Heartfelt Yin Yoga for Mamas (40 minutes) to dial down anxiety.
Clear out the cobwebs, realign, and fully inhabit your body with breath and movement. I created this class especially for mamas – it’s a 45 minute Vinyasa class designed for moms who may not have a lot of spare time but are still looking for a full body workout. We’ll get moving with a core sequence, ‘dynamic extensions,’ and Goddess Pose, winding down with a few minutes of relaxation at the end. Feel your energy rise and come out of the body to release (release, and release some more!). If you don’t have that much time, take 10 minutes to jump, run, or do a round of Sun Salutations. If you’re with your kids and yoga is age-appropriate for them, you could even try doing this Quick Energy Burn for Kids with your little guys!
Garden, draw, sing, dance! Creativity offers not only a place for us to move energy, but can create a deep sense of connection and vitality while also grounding us. While you’re doing your creative activity of choice, ask for the creative energy to clear you, nourish you, calm you, and inspire you.
Connect your feet with the earth (go barefoot, weather permitting) and feel a deep sense of exchange and support with the ground. From your feet up allow the energy to permeate your bones, your tissues, and move through your entire body. Sit down and find a comfortable cross-legged position or sit in a chair if that’s what is available to you. With your hands on your knees or thighs inhale bring the energy from the root chakra to the crown chakra and rock forward onto your sit bones. As you exhale bring the breath from the crown to the root making a C shape in the spine and draw the navel to the back body as you rock onto the back edges of the sit bones. Continue to rock and rise for as long as you have. This is deeply realigning and grounding.
Stand outside if you can, again barefoot, on the earth, if possible. Begin to soften the periphery of your eyes, taking in a wider view. Open all the senses softly, listen to the sounds around you, feel your feet solidly on the ground or floor, feel the air of the breath touch the nostrils, the tops of the lungs, notice your breath go out. With your hands in Anjali Mudra, inhale and widen your arms out to the sides and then bring them back into the center. Do the same thing, moving your arms up and down, feeling the breath and the energy move side to side, top to bottom, and back to front. Literally pull the energy in from around you and draw it into your body. While you do that, you can chant your favorite mantra or say, “I am loved. I am supported.” Sometime, I’ll even call these “love scoops.” I lead a seated version of this breathing practice at the beginning of Heartfelt Yin Yoga for Mamas and a standing version in the open moments of Total Body Tone + Releasing Sequence for Mamas. Take in the energy, feeling connected to the whole – the one breath that breathes us all!
I offer these teachings from my Mama Heart to yours. There is no greater work, no greater challenge, and no greater love than the path of motherhood. I encourage you to really ask yourself, what healing medicine do you need to give yourself today?" Take the time to consult and reset your inner compass; unwind, soften, and ultimately, make your body feel good. Allow yourself the space to let go, relax, and release residual tension. Nourish yourself on a body and soul level as often as you can!
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