If you’re a parent, or about to become one, we bet you can think of a million to-do’s that don’t involve taking the time to perfect your downward dog. Yet, practicing yoga may be one of the best things you can do for yourself if you’re trying to balance the demands of life and taking care of little ones.
Rebekah Borucki, a mother of five, didn’t start practicing yoga until just before she became pregnant with her fourth child. “And when I tell you it was night and day between that pregnancy and all my others it’s no exaggeration,” says the blogger behind yoga and meditation site BexLife.com. Now a certified yoga instructor, Borucki says, “Just the idea of being fit during pregnancy was so new to me. [Yoga] allowed me to have a practice that was easy on my body, while still maintaining muscle tone and creating happy hormones — endorphins.” Post-pregnancy, she credits yoga and meditation with giving her more patience, and helping her to practice self-compassion, even during the most hectic days.
Here’s how picking up a yoga practice (whether for 10 minutes a day or a full hour) might help you stay grounded, too — no matter what parenthood throws at you.
Yoga and Meditation: A Happiness Practice
Since she was just eight years old, Borucki, now 37, has battled depression and anxiety. But she says yoga and meditation have helped her manage those conditions for over 15 years. “It encourages me to have a better, more honest relationship with my body,” Borucki says. While it’s important to speak with your doctor if you’re feeling symptoms of depression or anxiety, some research seems to suggest that yoga and meditation can act as a mental balm for some people.
“Meditation is a conversation that I’m constantly having with myself.”
A small study published in January 2014, found that mindfulness practices, including yoga, had positive effects in women during and after pregnancy. “Although pregnancy can be a time for excitement and happiness, it can also be stressful…for some women more than others,” says study author Janice Goodman.
Goodman says through yoga and meditation, the 24 study participants learned to be kinder to themselves and more accepting of their thoughts and feelings. They also learned to be less reactive. “For example…turning around negative thinking before it spiraled out of control,” Goodman says.
Borucki adds, “Meditation is a conversation that I’m constantly having with myself, and with that constant checking in I’m more mindful of not only how I talk to myself but how I talk to my kids and my partner about myself.”
Savasana Your Way to Less Stress
Making time for asanas might also help soothe stressors, big and small. Plus, for moms-to-be, finding time to decompress can be beneficial for baby, too. A 2014 study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety found that women who attended yoga class for eight weeks had lower anxiety levels compared to women who didn’t practice.
Though study author James Newman, PhD, a research associate at Newcastle University says his study didn’t uncover why yoga was so helpful, study participants reported enjoying it for a variety of reasons. “Some really appreciated the exercise components as it helped with aches and pains, whereas others found the breathing techniques really useful for maintaining calm at periods of stress,” he says. “Then others enjoyed the social aspect of meeting other pregnant women.”
How to Make Time for Yoga in Your Life
Between work and family (and don’t forget about sleep!), it can feel impossible to set aside time for something as simple as savasana. Borucki has a career built around yoga — and even she says it can be hard to fit in practice.
When she wants to devote 20 minutes or an hour to yoga, Borucki says she makes it a priority to workout before her children wake up. “It’s hard, but I have to do it to maintain sanity,” she says.
She’s also developed a four-minute meditation routine that she can do anytime, anywhere. “That can look like sitting in my car in the driveway before going into my house, for four minutes, and taking deep breaths, repeating the mantra, ‘Inhale and exhale.’”
To try yoga in the comfort of your own home, visit DailyBurn.com for a free 30-day trial.
Note to reader: The content in this article relates to the core service offered by DailyBurn. In the interest of editorial disclosure and integrity, the reader should know that this site is owned and operated by DailyBurn.