I really strongly dislike exercise. Going to a gym, walking on a tread mill, going to most fitness classes (because most require some sort of coordination), doing sets of reps on a weight machine… none of that is my idea of a good time. And I gave up years ago on forcing myself to do things I hate “because they are good for me.” However, I will also tell you I am a very active person, right after saying I hate exercise. How do I do that? A few ways- I have a treadmill desk (by treadmill desk I mean “$75 treadmill with a piece of plywood across the handles). I take walks, ride bikes with my kids, garden, do heavy yard work, swim, and go backpacking. Oh, and I do yoga.
Oh how I love yoga. I love yoga so much I drag my butt out of the house in the morning, in the winter (if you know how much I hate both morning and winter, you will know how big of a deal this is) at least once a week to go to Yoga at the Y. I love yoga so much, in fact, that I refuse to consider it exercise. And every time I am at yoga I find myself thinking “every parent needs to do this.”
I challenge you to try it, just once. Even in the privacy of your own home. Because anyone can do yoga. Trust me, I am a short muscled inflexible t-rex armed little Irish girl, and I can do it. I’ll even share a link to some free videos you can try out. But first, some really good reasons you should try yoga, especially if you are a parent:
- Yoga teaches you to first breath. Always breath. Through pain, through stress, through everything. You don’t know how often this has helped me as a parent (childbirth, Oliver dipping my phone in coffee, etc).
- What parent doesn’t need some quite time? Which is why I prefer trekking out to the Y even when it involves taking small children out into the frigid Minnesota winter. I
dumplovingly drop Violet off at the Y’s child care and that next hour is for ME ONLY. It is priceless.
- Unlike some workouts (for me anyway), yoga increases your energy. So, you know, you can spend the next 12 hours chasing your kids without burning out.
- Some believe yoga boosts your immune system. No studies have been done on yoga specifically that I am aware of of, but studies HAVE shown that mild to moderate exercise increases immune function (while long sustained exercise can weaken it, very interesting stuff), so it bears that yoga would as well. As parents, especially parents of children who go to school (and bring home every virus known to man, and a few that aren’t), we need every boost we can get.
- People who practice yoga sleep better. And what parent doesn’t need more/better sleep???
- You can take what you learn from yoga and teach it to your kids when they are bouncing off the walls, or when they need a good giggle. Because nothing is funnier to kids than poses like “down dog” and “happy baby.” Similarly, I have taught my kids the breathing and relaxing components of yoga as a tool to use when they have trouble sleeping.
- If you have an infant, yoga can do a few key things. One, it can unlock that kink you get in your back from slouching forward to hold your baby. Secondly, if you use certain baby carriers and have a hard time fastening things behind your back because of the aforementioned T-rex arms, yoga helps you stretch and become more flexible. In other words, thanks to yoga I can fasten my Ergo all by myself.
- Most importantly, yoga reduces stress. Do I need to explain that one? Thought not.
“But I don’t know where or how to start doing yoga?” I know, classes can be hard to find and intimidating. But I have a solution. Check out DoYogaWithMe.com, which is full of completely free (and catch-free) yoga videos. They are even searchable by level of ability. Try a few out and let me know what you think!