How Yoga Can Create Space in the Overwhelm of Motherhood

Being woken up by the kids jumping into bed after a broken night’s sleep with a sick baby.

Packing lunch boxes while pleading with the kids to get dressed for the day.  Then turning around to find the baby has poured all the porridge in her lap.

Rushing to get everyone dropped off on time, feeling pleased with yourself… and then a little voice pipes up in the back of the car, “I left my project at home”.

Sound familiar?  We’re just talking the first 2 hours of the day. You could turn up at my home any morning and it would look like some variation of this.  Afternoons are also a frenzy of activity where my attention is being pulled from one child to another, one task to another, one whinge to another.  Fighting between the children, forgotten ballet slippers only remembered after we have arrived at ballet, and masses of food preparation, always.

Being overwhelmed is a very real state of being for most mamas these days.  In between making sure that our children’s practical and emotional needs are met, there are partners and friends and pets that all need us.  Throw in work, childcare, school and extra curricular activities for the kids, it can feel like a never ending cycle of checking off items on an ever growing to do list.

The problem with the feeling of overwhelm and the feeling that our lives are slowing being chewed up by little pieces of activity that we can barely remember what we spent our time on, is the gnawing feeling that we are doing nothing particularly well or with any great amount of passion or satisfaction.

I love the quote from author of Mindfulness for Mothers, Rebecca Ryan in an interview on my blog The Yoga Parent (link to theyogaparent.com), “this parenting thing is a long term gig, endurance is needed”.  There is so much truth in this.  That even when one phase of parenting has passed, there is another phase that brings with it its own joys and challenges.  Your job security in this parenthood situation is assured.  What is important is that rather than wishing any stage of this journey away, that we can find ways to feel the way we wish to feel in our lives, even with the time and resource constraints we have on us.  

I have found that yoga is an amazing tool to help me overcome some of the overwhelm in the decade I have been a parent.  Yoga is much more than a series of exercises for flexibility.  At the core of the practice of yoga is the emphasis on breath and also the concentration involved in the linking of your breath with your body.  While the concept is simple, and perhaps movement with breath for the duration of a yoga class might be relatively easy, it is the emphasis on taking this connection of breath, body and concentration together throughout your day that is the challenge.  But with some practice this unity of your mind, breath and body becomes something that you can always bring yourself back to when you feel in the grips of overwhelm.

One simple practice for when you are feeling your attention and time is being scattered in many directions:

  1. Notice the sensations of what it feels like when your attention is being pulled in several different directions.
  2. Notice any thoughts that are arising in this moment.
  3. Take three deep breaths.  Count to three as you inhale, pause before the exhale, then count to three as you exhale, pause before repeating for two more breaths.
  4. Take note of how you feel after giving yourself a pause in your thoughts by connecting with your breath.
  5. Ask yourself what is the one most important thing that needs your attention in this one moment and take action.

First published on Ryde District Mums site.

Sandra WangComment