Looking to find a child-friendly exercise (i.e., something that doesn’t cost anything and that I can do in the house with my kids around), I have resolved many times to practice yoga. It seems so perfect: it’s relaxing, you don’t need any special equipment, and it can fit whatever time you have.
However, when I open up a book of poses or put on a DVD, my experience is a little different than the lithe instructor imagines–as she gently suggests that I “breathe into the pose.”
No, if I were writing a yoga book, I’d make it for mothers. And the directions I would give for my favorite series,“Child’s Pose Flow,” would go something like this:
Before you begin, pick stray bits of play dough from your yoga mat. Announce your intention to do some “mommy exercise,” and point all children in the direction of the toy train table.
Firmly plant your feet on your mat, and as you focus your breath, imagine that your feet are rooting you to the earth. Inhale and exhale.
Reach up high, and slowly exhale as you bend over at the waist. Stay in this relaxing pose for five breaths or until the cat starts batting at your hair.
Step your left leg back to a lunge. Exhale as you raise your torso and your arms into Warrior II. Activate your core by inhaling and exhaling deeply to hold the pose despite the fact that your children are now using you as a jungle gym.
Gently brush off children and redirect them to train table. Return to your mat and assume Downward Facing Dog. Breathe to deepen the stretch and ignore children who are now using you as a tunnel–a train tunnel.
Return to standing. Stand still a moment and let the relaxation wash over you. Focus on your breath to tune out preschooler banging out his version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on the piano.
As he turns up the volume, return to lunge, using the opposite leg. Assume Warrior II on the opposite side. Don’t let the dinosaur jumping up your leg distract you, but gently sink into pose. Breath deeply. Imagine your legs are as strong as rocks. Mountains. A mountain for a dinosaur.
Return to standing as the children circle you, screaming like deranged chimps. They will soon run to the other side of the room.
Now you’re ready to do some floor work.
With your back on the floor, gently inhale and exhale as a toddler plops himself down on your stomach. Soften your gaze as he says, “Hello, Mommy!” Slowly curl up and give him a kiss on the nose as you tip him backwards and touch your toes. Return to lying flat. Repeat this pose until giggling subsides, or until your stomach can no longer work with thirty pounds of squishy toddler on you.
You are now ready for final relaxation. Assume Corpse Pose and pretend to be asleep until everyone stops dogpiling you. Feel the energy flow through you as you breathe evenly and deeply, but not too deeply—someone has pooped his pants.
Use the relaxation and and energy from this yoga flow to help you wrangle children the rest of the day.
QUESTION: Sometimes “mommy time” doesn’t work out quite as planned. What are some ways you can relax regardless of the situation around you?
CHALLENGE: Try to find humor in life when situations get out of hand or things don’t go your way.
Images provided by Amanda Hamilton Roos