When I became a mom, I was pretty confident. I’d been teaching prenatal yoga for years, I felt strong from my yoga classes, and I was fine with not being able to take a weekend trip to Vegas on the fly.
Cut to: A bedraggled version of me. I have no time for a shower, I’m exhausted, depleted, and I have completely lost track of my core. I am blissed out in love with my baby, but the one thing that has always helped me ground myself and feel calm and clear – my yoga – just does not seem to fit anymore, like my skinny jeans. I don’t have an hour and a half of serene quiet time at home, and I don’t want to pay for three hours of childcare to go to a class.
Cleary, both my practice and my teaching had to change.
I’ve since developed what I call “Anchor Practices”: short, effective, simple meditation, strengthening yoga and food & wellness habits we can do in between feeds and while baby naps. Most important of all the Anchor Practices for me is the morning practice. If I skip it, it feels like nothing works – I lose my keys, my computer breaks, my day feels chaotic. Even a 2-minute practice in the morning (one or two items from the list below) can help life feel much easier to handle (I probably still lose my keys, it just doesn’t bug me as much), and seems to wake up my intelligent cravings and desires for the whole day so I take better care of myself.
Here are the basics of my Ma Morning practice – again, if it seems too long, then it is! Just pick a couple from the list and start from there.
1.) Grab a notebook
And sit on a blanket or cushion, in a place in your house that feels special to you. Over time – put some things nearby – rocks, shells, candles, whatever makes you feel good and calm to look at.
2.) Do a breath practice
Start with this easy grounding breath: close your eyes and exhale to the count of 6 through your mouth. If you’re not pregnant, use your abs to draw ribs and belly in and back on the exhale, connecting to your core. Either way, make a “ha” sound like you’re misting up a window in winter.
Then breathe in through your nose to the count of 6, lift your chest and sit up tall. With each inhale, sit taller. With each exhale, softly rest your shoulders and ribs back and allow yourself to be held, as if there were a tall, soft chair you were learning back into.
Do these breaths a bunch of times, as long as it’s helping you become more tall and spacious.
For many of us – especially those with anxiety and a lot of stress – we are in fight-or-flight mode all the time. Our adrenals are overworking and getting tired out, and never getting a break.
Focusing on a long exhale slows down the heart rate and blood pressure, like pressing the reset button for our nervous system.
3.) Sit in Meditation
Close your eyes and sit in meditation for 2 minutes, which means let go of everything – even judgment about whether you’re letting go properly. Let your thoughts float by without attaching to them (no, they won’t stop coming – we are not that in control).
4.) Write a List
Then, pick up your notebook and write a list of what was hard about yesterday. Then, write a list of what was pretty cool about yesterday. You’ll be surprised at how much there was. It’s so important to acknowledge the gifts that come and start to look for them all day long!
Then, ask your Future Self for advice. This sounds crazy, but I have gotten SO much information from doing this I didn’t know I had. She is just our wise inner voice. She says things like “take care of yourself first” or “one thing at a time, it will all get done” – things I would tell a good friend, but I forget to tell myself. If you do this practice long enough, her voice becomes the one leading the way forward in your life.
5.) Do a Cat/Cow
Get on hands and knees on a rug or yoga mat, and simply do cat/cow with your breath. (This is what I mean by cat/cow.)
That’s it! This is the essential morning practices for mamas.
Whatever movement you do first thing, keep your exhales long and you will align with a deeper, slower rhythm so when things get nutty, it’s easier to find throughout the day. You will be able to access your inner GPS easier, and your life will begin to reflect more of your authentic desires. Focusing on the full exhale will also teach your nervous system to stay calm, focused, energized and strong – no matter what waves come and knock you off your feet!