Having kids can make it almost impossible to dedicate time for wellness in ways that used to be easy – our responsibilities and priorities change. But you’re reading this, which means in a minor or major way you are interested in making a change.
We know the best recommendations for exercise: 20 or more minutes of cardio movement a few times a week has a host of benefits for body and mind. Yoga is a safe but challenging activity and it is so much more than stretching. Physically, it incorporates movement and stillness to bring cardio vascular conditioning and strength training. Mentally, yoga is a moving meditation.
Perhaps we know or want to know how it feels to be mindful, to be more in control of emotions like frustration and how to recognize and savor moments of happiness so they don’t feel so fleeting: this is the heart of meditation, and yoga and mediation go hand in hand.
Here are five affirmations and supporting tips from Allie Huttinger, Yoga Instructor and co-founder of Yego Yoga Rwanda.
1. I want to do this.
You recognize that even a small adjustment in your lifestyle can have positive effects on your well-being. Perhaps you also recognize that you are a role model for your kids: if they see you prioritizing doing things that are good for you and see you enjoying the results of your dedication that will create a lasting impression.
2. I have time.
It’s a matter of what you want to spend your time doing. 12 minutes of yoga practice is what I’d call a ‘minimum daily requirement’ and that’s also enough to maintain and gradually improve your practice. For meditation, 3 minutes of deep breath can reset your mind. Begin with dedicating short periods of time for yoga and meditation and see how you feel. If it’s right for you, you will naturally prioritize your time differently.
3. I have energy.
Or can I say, the practice will give you energy. Even if you are wiped out and grumpy, in pain or disinterested, 15 minutes of mindful movement will help you to recover from and snap out of a habit of running on empty. You might not want to do it, but try for 5 minutes and then ask yourself if you can continue. You’ll be surprised by what you are capable of.
4. I am good at this.
Something that makes yoga and meditation really special is that no matter where you’re at, you’re doing a great job. With meditation, every time your mind wanders and you bring yourself back to the breath, you are affirming the heart of meditation and becoming a better practitioner. In yoga, the poses are built over time and the ones that are the hardest are often the ones that have the most to teach us. Even people who have practiced yoga for years are constantly refining their shape in each and every pose. It's not too late, you're not too out of shape, it hasn’t been too long since the last time you tried, you deserve this.
5. I have the resources I need.
There is a wealth of free resources online including visual guides, videos and podcasts. Look around for a sequence that fits the time you have (5 min, 15 minutes) find a teacher whose voice you like, then just try it. Don’t worry too much about finding just the right teacher, I promise that there is something to learn from virtually everyone. I like Pinterest for browsing visual guides. There are classes and groups in Kigali that practice yoga and meditation. I’ll also add Pilates to that list because it combines safe exercise with mindful breath.
I’m now teaching two mid-morning yoga classes - great for parents with flexible schedules - Tuesdays and Fridays 8:30am-10:00am at City Arts in Kimihurura, organized through my studio Yego Yoga where you can see all class offerings for yoga, Pilates and meditation.
Feel free to post a comment here if you’d like to share your own experience with yoga or meditation for moms, dads and kids.