Left to my own devices I probably wouldn’t make time for yoga. Not regularly. Not as much as I’d like to. And I think this was true before I became a mom. I’m one of those people that really really like to check things off the list; for whom a clean kitchen feels more important than getting enough sleep. Before I was a mother I had to put yoga in my calendar because if I didn’t I’d get sidetracked with all the tasks life seems to always have lined up for me. Then I’d feel not-so-great about not getting to my practice, which not only served to take care of my body, but helped my brain keep everything in perspective—helped me choose sleep or a hike or just sitting outside sometimes over reorganizing the desk I’d organized last week. As I’ve written before on MindBodyGreen, my yoga practice led me to my meditation practice, and I honestly feel that because of these two practices I am in my life: present, messy sometimes, completely imperfect, and happy.
I have a two-year-old daughter and I’m seven months pregnant with my second child. Making time for yoga now more important than ever, because as a mom it is easier than ever to do anything but get on my mat. You should see my house at 8am, let alone 8:00 at night. First of all, I set my expectations low: I aim for 20 minutes rather than 90. I aim for 3 days a week rather than 6. If I set the bar too high and then I start to miss it, it’s easy to throw in the towel and say “Better Luck Next Time I’m Cleaning out the Linen Closet”. So I start simply, and if it leads to more (it often does, actually), well, even better. Next, if it’s a day I know I have time to practice, but I also have other things I want to do, I do my practice first. For example, if my husband is working late and I know after my daughter goes to bed I can unroll my mat but I also want to, say, read a script or change her toys around, I do the yoga part of my night first. Then it’s done. I feel so much better knowing I prioritized according to my heart and not my head, that I took care of myself by doing what is deeply important to me. And finally, my husband and I have yoga dates. Sometimes we’ll get a babysitter so we can go to class together instead of dinner. Though we’re not talking we feel as connected as if we were sharing a great glass of wine—we can do that when we get home anyway. Tonight at dinner, my daughter leaned backwards over her highchair, her arms up and her hands in prayer, and said “I’m doing yoga!”. In this house, we do it when and where we can.
Melanie Lora Meltzer is an actress, mom, and yogi living in Los Angeles. Melanie primarily teaches privately and as an online yoga instructor for MyYogaWorks. Check out her website, blog, or follow Melanie on Twitter or Instagram: @MissMelanieLora.