In one of my recent yoga classes, a mum of young kids asked me how it was possible to find time to listen to the whispers her body was telling her. To find time to really connect and assess where her body was, and to ensure that she remained calm and attentive to herself at this busy stage in her life.
This is a problem many women face – regardless of what age or stage of life they are in. However, it is particularly prevalent with women of young kids who are working mothers, juggling life and responsibilities. There is very little time for themselves, let alone time to develop and strengthen relationships with loved ones or finding time to do something special to nourish the soul.
So I want to suggest a few ways to find meaningful time every day (or at least a few times a week!) to reconnect to yourself, understand where you are and listen to the whispers and messages that your body is telling you. By doing so you will discover that there is another way of managing the crazy times, and perhaps even prevent yourself getting to that overwhelmed feeling.
Breathe Deep: Even if you lead a crazy lifestyle during the day, you should carve out 5 minutes every night before you go to sleep to reconnect to yourself through deep breathing. Rather than flopping into bed too exhausted to move or reading until your eyes close, take a few minutes to lie on your bed with your hands placed over your pelvis (thumbs on your belly button, fingers pointing down) and begin to breathe slowly and deeply. As your breathing slows down, pay attention to it, to the rhythm of the inhale and exhale. Be present in the moment and focus only on the quality of your breath. Give time and space to listen to what your body is telling you in these few moments of quiet and calm.
Self Check-In: Yoga Nashit – Yoga for Women’s Health, uses the yoga mat as a laboratory of inquiry. Full breathing together with connecting to Mula Banda (the area of your pelvic floor muscles, pelvis, transverse abdominal muscles) allows each woman to connect to her very core, to the source of her feminine energy and creativity. Biologically your blood pressure drops, relaxing hormones are stimulated and you feel a sense of calm settle upon you. This now allows you to do a “Self Check-In”. As you enter this calm state, assess how you are feeling in this very moment – physically, emotionally, mentally. Remember there are NO right or wrong answers. This a chance for you to Check-In and assess how you are managing, and reconnect with yourself.
Know Your Limits: In a recent conversation with my brother, we talked about how living in our modern fast-paced world requires us to live very close to the edge of maximum capacity. Women especially are expected to juggle motherhood, family, work, relationships and responsibilities while keeping a clean house and preparing freshly cooked meals regularly. Women need to accept that such a “Facebook picture perfect” existence is not realistic and trying to achieve it can potentially result in pain, illness, shame and guilt. Be realistic about what your limits are and don’t feel guilty about it! At the beginning of the week take a look at what the coming days require from you. Decide what your priorities are, where you can let go a bit, maybe carve out some “me” time, and where you can ask for help. Understanding and preparing for the ebbs and flows in your weekly schedule goes a long way to reducing the accumulating stress.
Understanding your hormones: Fundamental to calming yourself and your life in general is understanding and mapping your natural, constantly changing hormonal cycle (see previous blog “Being a Proud Hormonal Woman”). Paying attention to the regular changes going on in your body is crucial to knowing what to expect from yourself and consequently how to relate to those around you. Every woman at every age and stage of life has a hormonal cycle, every day brings a new hormonal balance. Being disconnected from it is one of the key reasons why we don’t manage stress correctly. Once you know what hormones are dominant in your body on any given day, you can adapt your expectations, pace yourself, and know what you can cope with.
Prepare for the unexpected: This is one of the hardest things to do and is one of the key triggers for stress, anxiety and general elevated “crazy” levels. How do you cope and manage when the unexpected happens, when you are already juggling and managing so much? In unexpected situations DON’T expect immediate answers or clarity. Be prepared to NOT be able to carry on at full capacity. You need to actively calm things down as much as possible for the short-term, so that you can find space to breathe deeply, connect to yourself and assess the situation clearly. And most importantly, ask for help when you need it. I truly believe that asking for help is a sign of strength. As you give yourself space to breathe and listen to your body, you will discover that you become better equipped to deal with the situation at hand.
These are just a few suggestions, tools that I have learned through my own Yoga Nashit training and practice. I attempt to implement them in my life. I can say with certainty that by simply creating the space to pay attention to myself and to breathe deeply, I am able to tune in more and more to the very quiet and gentle messages that my body is sending me, listen to them and begin to calm the crazy. I hope that you will too!