Yoga As Meditation
We know that mindfulness is a thing. And an important thing, at that. We’ve heard the data regarding the importance of being present and living in the moment. We want to tap into it, but it can seem overwhelming or complicated to get started.
I propose that it may not be that tough to jump into the mindfulness movement if we understand the basics, become intentional, and understand that practicing it does not ONLY look like sitting in a quiet, meditative state for an hour. We have some options.
Many of us find ourselves somewhere along the “mindfulness spectrum”, ranging anywhere from “I want to explore incorporating a mindfulness practice into my daily routine” to “I am a zen master who has reached a state of enlightenment”. I’m willing to bet that being a busy mother and having a family and a career have kept a lot of us from reaching the latter option, but there is nothing wrong with having a goal to simply understand the mindfulness space better, and wanting to dedicate a few moments each day to it. In fact, this a great place to start.
But what does all of this even mean? Simply put, mindfulness is the process of bringing your attention to the current moment, and meditation helps to hone this process by allowing us to calm and focus our minds simultaneously. Staying present, or in the present moment, is the common theme here.
As mothers, it’s SO easy to feel like there is no time in the day to squeeze in one more “activity” into our day. I don’t have time to meditate. I can’t sit still for long periods. I can’t quite my mind when I am thinking about what my kids and my partner needs. I get it.
Enter: Yoga as meditation.
It’s been a game changer for me. As someone who’s taken Oprah and Deepak’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge in an attempt to hone my meditation skills, but found that sitting still and quieting my mind in silence feel far reaching, I knew I needed an alternative mindfulness option (Note: I actually did enjoy the challenge and got a lot out of it. I improved my focus throughout the challenge and I would encourage you to try it if it’s been something you’ve considered doing). If you’re anything like me and find it tough to and meditate in the traditional sense intially (ie, sitting in silence), consider cultivating a yoga practice to start you on your mindfulness journey.
Yoga is, in many ways, meditation in motion. I have found the practice to both open my body and calm my mind. I use my time on the mat to reflect on my centering thought (or mantra) as I focus on my breath. I’ve noticed that as I’ve developed my home yoga practice over the past 6 months, I’ve become better at staying present while going through a sequence, and my attempts at guided meditation have been more “effective” – meaning I’m better able to do acknowledge and effectively move past distracting thoughts while attempting to remain centered.
If practicing yoga is helping me inch closer to my mindfulness goals, I’d be willing to bet it can get you on your way as well.
I have a few tips to get you started:
1. Check out a beginners class at yoga studio or gym near you, and pop in on your own or with girlfriends. A friend or two can help keep you accountable to your commitment, or help to ease your nerves if you’re not sure what to anticipate in your very first class.
2. If you want to test the waters on your own before venturing out to a class, just begin at home. With a wi-fi connection and YouTube, you have access to tons of yoga routines to try out. Once you find a routine and yoga style that suites you, try to practice at the same time each day to establish consistency. As a busy mom, I’ve realized it’s best to practice in the morning before your kids wake up to ensure it gets done. Getting up before the kids do to practice in peace is completely worth it, and not just because it enables you to flow in peace. A morning yoga sequence is also just a great way to start your day, and will leave you feeling at peace and more centered before the madness of the day begins.
3. Bonus Tip: Instagram would have you believe that yoga is all about perfect poses and impossible hand stands. Don’t think yoga isn’t for you because you feel you can’t achieve a backbend or a split in your current state (I can’t do either…yet!). Yoga is for everybody, at every stage, and at every level of athleticism. Initially, focus less on postures and poses and more on remaining present. Focusing on how your body feels in each pose, and on your breathing and your centering thought, are what matter.
4. Stick with it for 21 days and access how you feel. If yoga doesn’t get you on track to becoming more mindful, keep searching until you find what feels good for you.
That’s it, mamas! After you’ve gone through a yoga class or a guided session at home, believe it or not, you have essentially meditated! Added bonus: you’ve moved your body, challenged yourself, and have been intentional about your self-care.
You can’t ask for much more than that. #MomWin
You got this:
1. There is no right way to meditate and practice mindfulness. It’s all about figuring out what works for you. Yoga may be what the doctor ordered, but if it’s not, at least you can say you tried.
2. Take time to be present and listen to your intuition as you establish your yoga practice through journaling or any form of mindfulness or reflection (such as prayer or meditation).
3. Get excited about taking time to commit to your well being! When you take care of yourself, you take care of your family.
"Every day is an opportunity for a new beginning and an opportunity to be centered in the moment”