Get Into a Stress-Free Flow
If you are stressed to the max, you can be sure your kids feel it. Yoga and meditation are a great, easy way to manage your stress levels, feel better and get into the flow of a positive life change.
By KD Reep
You thought your life was busy with a career, home and hobbies. Then you had children. No one knows what busy is until they have added children to their lives. While children deepen and enrich a person’s life in wonderful ways, they can take their toll on patience and mental and emotional stability.
“Mothers feel responsible for so many aspects of their family’s life,” said Stacey Faught, owner of Blue Yoga Nyla, assistant director of Balance Yoga and Wellness Teacher Training Program, and Lululemon ambassador. “They can’t carry that psychological weight without some relief. Learning ways to relax, let go of responsibilities, duties and to-dos puts moms on a more even keel, makes them better parents and, overall, a happier, more well-adjusted adult.”
Blue Yoga Nyla is a warm and welcoming space for anyone who is interested in practicing yoga. In fact, you don’t need any yoga experience to practice at Blue Yoga Nyla.
“Yoga is a way for the person doing it to focus on one thing and nothing else,” Faught said. “It frees you to connect with your spirit, which knows what is best for you and your life. When life gets crazy, yoga can help keep you on a straight path.”
She explains that yoga is important today for any and every body, mind and spirit. “In the 15 years I have been teaching, I have taught five-year-olds to 100-year-olds, and the commonality between them is everyone is seeking a level of peace and calm. Raising children well is the hardest job parents ever take on. We deal with daily shortcomings and try to overcome the pressure of responsibility and failure, even when we have done our best. It is the most humbling role, just like yoga.”
The practice of yoga has many health benefits, including managing stress, anxiety, lowering blood pressure, increasing flexibility and gaining mental and physical strength. There are different types of yoga, but all center on focus.
Hatha yoga is great for beginners. The term “hath” means any practice combining poses, or asanas, with breathing techniques, or pranayamas, so you can develop flexibility and balance. Through this practice, you integrate a breath into every movement, which helps you to relax. Vinyasa is a faster practice of yoga that has the practitioner moving continuously, which helps her develop strength, flexibility and balance. Vinyasa can burn up to seven calories a minute so it is a workout and stress reducer in one. Bikram, or hot yoga, is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with a 40 percent humidity level. The heat helps loosen muscles so the practitioner can stretch more fully.
“The word ‘yoga’ literally translates to yoke, union or to bind,” Faught said. “The union of the breath with the movement of the body brings balance, clarity and conjunction to the body, mind and spirit. The actual physical part of the practice is designed to move ‘dukha’ or shadow debris, meaning stress, fatigue, anger, frustration, sorrow and feelings of being overwhelmed out of the body to make space for what we want to be filled with: love, compassion, grace, forgiveness. The movement of the practice is the vehicle to relieve our beings from what keeps us stuck, undone and broken.
“Whatever type of yoga you practice, you’ll become more flexible, build muscle strength, increase your blood flow and decrease your blood pressure, which helps offset stress hormones,” Faught said. “The most important part of yoga is the focus on the present. You slow your breath, relax into the rhythm and put all thoughts aside.”
The meditative aspect of yoga is particularly beneficial for mothers as it helps induce relaxation for practitioners who may be managing consistent stress. Meditation costs nothing, and anyone can do it. In fact, all you need is a place where you are comfortable, can close your eyes, relax your muscles and focus on a single thing. That can be your breath, an object like a flower or picture, or an image in your mind. The purpose is to maintain focus on one thing, eliminating distractions to let the mind reset.
“The stresses parents and children face, and the pace a family keeps in general are enough to lead to mental and physical exhaustion,” Faught said. “Kids are enrolled in afterschool activities as well as multiple activities at night. Parents are running them back and forth, working all day, coming home to figure out dinner and homework, bath and bedtime. There is no Zen in that pace or schedule, and we can busy ourselves to breakdown. Yoga and meditation in particular help calm and settle the mind. In fact, with busy, stimulated brains and electronics, kids need calm minds and still bodies more than ever. Yoga and meditation can be done anywhere. You don’t need any equipment. All you need is a desire to learn and practice. The rest follows.”
HOW TO REDUCE EVERYDAY STRESS
Yoga and meditation are two ways moms can offset stress in their lives, but there are other habits mothers can incorporate into their routines to help reduce stress before it becomes unmanageable. They include:
SLEEP—parents may laugh at the thought of a full night’s sleep, but it’s needed in this stage of life more than ever. Being able to get sufficient rest allows the body to repair itself and recharge for tackling another day.
DIET—it’s important that the fuel you put in your body is clean and provides the nutrients it needs to repair cells and stay strong. Plenty of fruit, vegetables, lean protein and water will give your body what it needs to fling off stress and keep going.
EXERCISE—after a day of doing nothing but going from one appointment to another or running after a toddler, it seems counterintuitive that exercise is important to reducing stress. However, exercise helps the body manage the stress response and hormones to which it has been subjected, allowing your diet to work better and your sleep to be more sound.
MASSAGE—it sounds decadent, but it is necessary for moms to feel appreciated, soothed and whole. Massage works toxins out of muscles and flesh, leaving you loose and relaxed.
AROMATHERAPY—lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus and a host of other essential oils open the capillaries and help to relax, unwind
JOURNALING—keeping a book for you and you alone where you can write anything you feel without fear of repercussion or judgment is a huge stress reliever. Consider journaling a safe place to put your fears and worries, then leave it behind.
SOCIALIZING—nothing helps as much as to know you are not alone. Make time to meet with friends who are moms to commiserate, laugh and support each other. The camaraderie alone will have you feeling light again.