5 steps to ease into a mindful yoga practice from Latham Thomas.
So often in my work, I see women who are driven, hustling, and making a difference in this world — but not extending that same energy and compassion to themselves. The modern mama makes time for exercise, but the intersection of self-care and exercise is important. When you’re committed to giving to your family, your job or business, and responsibilities, what’s left to give to yourself?
Yoga is about union, connection, slowing down, tuning inward and choosing to engage with yourself on the deepest level, listening to your needs, and using the movement as expression. Yoga allows us to find peace and calm when we can’t calm our newborn or we’re running late for a meeting. When you align your body, mind, and inner spirit above all else, you not only set the tone for your day, but your personal practice can help you support others in your life.
Start the new year with a new notion, a new plan of action, a radical mindful thought… put yourself first. Here are 5 steps for starting a mindful yoga practice:
- Set realistic expectations. With schedules tight, work demands, and being a mom around the clock, it’s challenging to set aside time for your own personal practice. You don’t have to escape to a four-day retreat to start a mindful yoga practice, just take those 10 minutes before everyone in the house wakes up to sit with yourself in silence and start with some grounding movements to warm up the major joints in the body. This will give you enough space and time to realign and find confidence in your personal practice.
- Get Gear. Just like you would get new sneakers and running pants to start off right with a distance running the program you want to have the right gear so you’re comfortable and set up for success. A yoga mat and props are essential tools for your practice. Having stretchy pants that allow your belly to breathe, and a yoga nursing bra, like the new Bravado’s Body Silk Seamless Yoga Nursing Bra, supports you in your activities, fitness, and new motherhood journey.
- Just breathe. Calming the mind is one of the hardest things for expectant and new moms to do and one of the most basic tenets of yoga and mindfulness. Wherever you are, slow down and focus on your breath and its feeling, its sounds, its sensations. Let go of any stress and tension in the body, and forget your to-do list at this moment. It’s all about your self-care. Breathe your way to calm.
- Find a routine. Commit yourself to yourself by choosing the same timeframe every day to dedicate to your practice. Whether first thing in the morning or last thing at night, having a routine that you can rely on will make it easier to fold into your life and something you look forward to for comfort.
- Set the mood. This is a self-care practice as much as it’s a yoga practice. It’s all about tuning out and feeling good. Make it matter. Put the effort into setting a mood so you can focus on the 30 minutes or so you’ve dedicated to yourself. Create a mindful mama corner. Light candles, place flowers in the room, and maybe aspirational quotes or images in your corner. And go there as often as you can for your practice. Even if it’s just sitting in the easy seat and breathing for 10 breaths. Be kind to yourself.
3 Comfort Poses for a Mindful Mama Glow Yoga Practice
Pigeon (or Dove Pose): This pose is great for those who have any low back pain, tight hips, or sciatica. It helps lengthen the hip flexors and stretches the groin, thighs, chest, shoulders, and neck, and it stimulates abdominal organs. Interlacing the fingers behind the back offers a gentle stretch opening the chest and offering relief for nursing moms.
Reclined Hero’s Pose: Seated on the floor place feet on either side of the hips. Make sure the sits bones are pressing into the floor. Adjust the feet so the toes are pointed straight back toward the wall behind you. First lower down onto the elbows, chin relaxed. Relax the ribs down and lengthen the spine. You can continue to lower down along the bolster or all the way to the floor. This pose increases blood circulation through knee joints. Helps with high blood pressure. Stretches the thighs, knees, and ankles. Improves digestion and relieves gas and helps with edema in the legs and opens the spine and chest which relieves breastfeeding moms.
Supported Bridge Pose: The anatomical focus of this pose is the uterus. The Supported Bridge stretches the chest, neck, and spine and allows you a gentle back-bend with total support. Some of the benefits include stimulation of the abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid; improved digestion; and reduced anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, and insomnia. This pose calms the mind and helps alleviate stress and mild depression. This is a great pose for postpartum moms as well. You can even do a lighter version of this- the pelvic tilt hours after birth.
Latham is wearing Bravado’s Body Silk Seamless Yoga Nursing Bra.
Photography by Robert Sturman.