Parenthood is hard, but I don’t need to tell you that. Raising children can feel a lot like trying to herd angry cats. Fortunately, yoga and mindfulness can help you keep your cool when you’ve reached the end of your rope. Here’s how to use both in your daily tug-of-war with your kids.
Mindfulness is a psychological exercise with the intent to focus on or become aware of something. For example, most people use mindfulness to acknowledge their feelings or thoughts in a calm way. The practice can also help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Anyone can tap into mindfulness and experience its benefits, but it may take practice.
Yoga is an ancient body-mind practice that has become more popular in recent years. The practice of yoga combines different poses and breathing techniques to improve flexibility, enhance feelings of well-being and promote control of the body and mind. Some doctors recommend yoga as a stress-relieving practice for patients with chronic anxiety or stress.
If you’re getting ready to practice mindfulness for the first time, you’re in for a treat. It’s amazing how such a simple exercise can clear your mind and help you feel rejuvenated. Best of all, it won’t take up too much of your time. In fact, here are several mindfulness exercises you can do in a minute or less.
- Practice the STOP technique. Here’s how:
- Stand up and take slow, deep breaths while visualizing your connection to the earth.
- Tune into your body. Notice all of your emotions and physical sensations. Gently force any negative sensations or feelings out of your body each time you exhale. When you inhale, focus on pleasant sensations or feelings.
- Look around at your surroundings. Hone in on something around you that makes you happy. Take a moment to be grateful for that thing.
- Consider what possibilities you have for moving forward. Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t.
2. Practice positive affirmations for one full minute. Be kind to yourself and focus on being optimistic about the future. Repeat things like “May I be well. May I be happy. May I have peace.”
3. Take time to yawn and stretch every hour. These sessions don’t have to be long. Just 10 seconds of stretching and yawning can help you feel more energetic and relaxed.
There are many different yoga poses you can choose from, but some are more effective at providing stress relief than others. Here are some easy poses for stress relief that even beginners can do.
- Standing Forward Bend. This yoga exercise is performed by standing with your feet together. Slowly fold your torso forward as you bend your knees slightly. Make sure you bend from your hips instead of your lower back. Hold this pose for up to 15 seconds before rising again and repeating two to three times.
- Child’s Pose. Kneel down on the floor with your knees hip-width apart and your toes together. Lower your torso between your knees as you exhale. Extend your arms forward on the ground with your palms facing downward. Hold this pose for as long as needed to enhance feelings of relaxation.
- Side Stretch. While seated on the floor with your knees together, stretch your torso tall, place one hand on the floor and lean toward it while you lift your opposite arm upward and over your body. This will give you a nice torso stretch. Repeat on the other side while breathing deeply.