Before I became a mom, I’d been going to yoga classes for ten years. They were sweaty, spiritual, and alignment-based so they healed my aches and pains. I felt like each time I walked out a new person.
And yet, as a new mom my yoga completely went away for a couple years, and I stopped teaching as well. I couldn’t afford childcare to be able to leave to pay for a yoga class, and I didn’t have the energy to talk myself through a full practice, let alone anyone else.
And my body paid for it.
Years later, I was dealing with adhesions caused by misaligned healing, something that alignment-based yoga could have prevented.
Even a down-dog a day would have helped my spine avoid falling in to old patterns that resulted in a full, painful twist in my pelvis that took me a long time to unwind.
My meditation practice went away as well. I had had a wonderful teacher who gave me a mantra in a powerful ritual, and I loved my mantra. He had told me never to share it with anyone, so that it only drew my energy inside, and never moved the other way.
It worked – when I called it up it would almost instantly help me settle and draw me deep within. Even now, 20 years later, I’ve never written it down and at 55 my memory is severely lacking, but I can call it up from the depths anytime.
He had also told me this: if you don’t meditate twice a day for at least 20 minutes each, don’t bother. And don’t use your mantra unless you’re doing a full practice.
So when I was a new mom, I did the natural thing – I stopped meditating altogether.
Because who has 20 minutes as a new mom? We’re waking up every 3 hours, constantly watching baby to make sure they’re safe and happy and well-fed and clean, and if we get 5 minutes to shower every few days we’re lucky.
Of course, the reason I loved meditating is that it helped me feel calm and clear. My mind tends to go all over the place – jumping from self-doubt to fear to excitement to frustration – when it’s not super busy, and meditation helped me keep it calm. Especially if I’m not focused on doing something… it was a huge adjustment for me to sit on the steps watching the leaves rustle with my baby for hours, and tdeal with my “monkey mind”. I really needed to be meditating.
It wasn’t for more than a year that I started thinking about why I had let my practice go – and getting a little angry. I’m not meditating because this guy said what? I had to do it for 20 minutes?
Had my meditation teacher ever been in charge of a little baby that literally needed his attention to survive?
And who was it that told me yoga had to be a full hour and a half of a serene, focused, spiritual awakening or it’s not worth doing?
I realized… no one, really.
My therapist told me what it was called: “all-or-nothing-thinking.” Turns out I had been doing this a lot. I thought if I can’t:
- do a full, hour-and-a-half sweaty yoga practice at a beautiful studio with shiny hardwood floors, I can’t do yoga.
- figure out how to make plans with someone because my daughter’s schedule is so crazy and I’m so tired all the time, I just have to feel lonely.
- complete a blog in one day, it’s not worth starting it.
I set out to figure out what it might look like to do things in what I might have previously called half-a#$ed.
What Can Happen in 60-Seconds?
Yoga was pretty much created by men, for men. Probably with wives at home with the kids, making dinner.
If traditional yoga practices had been developed by women for women, I believe there would be practices specifically for this time. Short, powerful, nurturing routines that can be done in the last five minutes of baby’s nap, or while baby’s distracted by a floating dust particle.
Easy ways to receive nurturing energy so we don’t get depleted. A simple, direct pathway to our high, most powerful and wise Self.
I wondered: if we were going to meditate for only ONE minute, what would be the best practice to do?
I broke down the elements of what I consder to be a full meditation practice into five parts:
- Pranayama (breathwork)
- Active Meditation (focusing on a mantra, the 3rd eye, or an object)
- Passive Meditation (allowing the thoughts to float by like clouds in the sky)
- Setting an Intention (noticing a deep desire that arises from the space you created, and putting it in the form of a request)
- Self-Actualization exercises and visualizations (journaling).
That way, I had a menu I could choose from. Today I just need to breathe and set an intention. Tonight I just want to sit and get as spacious as I can. This week I’m going to find a minute a day to open my notebook and write where I’m at, so I can start to see if I’m stuck or actually moving at all in my life.
What I discovered was surprising. A doorway to a world that had not been available to me for a long time – a feeling of spaciousness, a connection to my big picture thinking, a groundedness, and a presence in the moment, a calmer mind that focused more on what mattered – a reaquainting with my soul.
I might not have gotten to hang out there for an incredibly long period of time, but it felt a little like bush-wacking. Once I found that quiet, peaceful place within, the pathway was there for a while – I could find it way more easily throughout my busy day. So even with one minute of meditating, no matter how crazy the day got, I still felt like I could find the big open sky again.
What Kind of Yoga Can Be Done In 60 Seconds?
What could a 60-second yoga practice accomplish?
You might say “not much”. And in a way you’re right. You probably won’t strengthen your muscles, increase flexibility, or heal chronic injury. You won’t connect with yoga friends at the studio and feel that sense of being in-sync with a group as you breathe through vinyasas. You probably won’t get enlightened (but you never know).
But what you CAN do is align your movements with your breath.
You can wake up your muscles and hug yourself energetically and physically.
You can find space in the back of your body and other places that get scrunched.
You can receive for a minute, instead of just giving.
You can remember you are a soul in a body.
And when you’re done, a 60-second yoga practice can change your day from one where you run from from task to task feeling overwhelmed, to one where you feel grateful for each moment.
You can keep yourself from straying too far from your center, into physical assymetries and imbalances.
And you can feel grounded, connected to your power, and present.
What Else Can Be Done in 1 Minute?
When I let myself be perfectly imperfect as a mom, I started doing the things that mattered again.
Instead of chopping through my To Do list in a day, I made a “Values” Circle – a list of what mattered to me in addition to being a good mom.
Socializing, exercise, spiritual practice, aligning, working on my business, creative expression…
What if you were able to tap in to each of these at least once a week?
What I found is I’d get a little bit of what I loved… and even more, a sense that I was living a life that reflected who I was.
- Feeling disconnected socially? Pick someone you haven’t talked to in a while – it should feel a litle weird and awkward – and send them a text letting them know you’re thinking of them, or just that you’re doing your laundry.
- Wishing you had time to work on a creative project? Pick a one-minute baby step each day that feels like nothing. Get that guitar out and then celebrate. Open up the screen play and then contemplate what’s next while you walk. Google how to make a website and sign up for a webinar in the future. Just one baby step at a time.
- Haven’t exercised in a while? Hold a plank for a minute, or do a minute of jumping jacks.
- If it’s a pedicure in a massage chair at a place you don’t have time to get to… find a bucket of cold water and soak your feet for one minute.
- If you miss making elaborate meals full of fresh ingredients… google “easy soup with…” and make a note to buy the ingredients next time you shop.
Reclaim What’s Yours
When my baby was two I took this idea – that yoga, meditation, even Ayurveda can and must change for women in their childbearing years – and created Ma Yoga from there.
It’s not that the practices are short, although we do those too. It’s more about giving ourselves permission to let go of how we think things “should” look. We’re messy, our practice isn’t what it once was, or what we hoped it would be – and yet we’re choosing to show up for ourselves anyway.
It’s about remembering that we need to nurture ourselves so we can give to others, and this can look unlike anything we’ve been taught or part of before.
And it’s about paring down activities to their most meaningful, effective essence – even if it doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen before. It’s seeing the energy beneath the form.
I invite you to let go of all-or-nothing thinking and redefine being productive for yourself as simply tapping in to what matters most to you, even if it’s just for a moment.
Let’s not let anyone – or any idea of how we think things are supposed to be – deny us an experience of our deepest longings.
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