In MOTHERHOOD, YOGA

“Every time I try to do yoga, my cat starts to bite my head.”

A friend of mine said this to me when she was interviewing me for her podcast a few weeks ago. I laughed because although I hadn’t heard that specific reason, I’d heard so many others just like it.

“I can’t because my dog gets on my mat and he’s so big he takes up the whole space so what’s the point?”

“Yoga at home is hard because of the laundry and the kids and everyone needs something, so I just never end up getting on my mat.”

“Yoga at home just isn’t the same as yoga with people around doing yoga, too.”

There are lots of reasons why you don’t do yoga at home.

All of the reasons are legit.

Home provides so many more distractions than when you’re doing yoga at a studio or a gym. And because home is where we feel most comfortable and casual, it’s super easy to have relaxed boundaries.

Here’s another big truth:

It’s easy to put things off at home because we’re used to putting things off at home.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever done any of these:

Don’t want to fold that laundry? No problem. Check your email instead. 

Not ready to do the dishes? No biggie. Take a tour of your house to see which houseplants need watering. Bonus if you actually water them because you can put off those dishes even longer.

Don’t want to start your work? That’s cool. You can just check NPR to see if there are any different headlines from 5 minutes ago.

In fact, while writing this blog, I’ve stopped about 3 or 4 times to fill up my water, put away food on the counter, throw some paper in recycling, and check on a poll I created on Instagram.

Distraction is easy to give in to.

That’s sort of the point of distraction. And sometimes, distraction can be a useful way for your brain to process information or to help motivate you.

And other times, distraction can swallow you whole and take you down all sorts of rabbit holes, whether on the internet or in your own house. I mean, how many times have you gotten so absorbed in a random task at home (or online) that made you completely lose track of time and forget what you were actually supposed to be doing?

What’s even trickier is when you’re not alone at home, but also have kids/partner/pets/family visiting, who can accidentally/on purpose prevent you from doing anything you want to do.

Again, as I was writing this blog, I had to stop once to get my youngest daughter who’d woken up from a super short nap. I had to change her diaper. And then just as I got back into writing, she started saying, “food-ie” so I needed to get her a snack.

This is a legit obstacle and one many other moms can relate to.

The question is then, do you give up on the goal completely or figure out a way to work with the obstacle so you can experience success or satisfaction or both?

Motivation at home is also a biggie.

I’ve had people tell me that just the act of getting themselves out of the door is all the motivation they need to do yoga but when faced with their empty mat on the floor of their living room, they feel less enthusiastic.

Ditto for that empty mat when combined with an online class, live or pre-recorded.

Here’s the thing about motivation:

It’s fickle as fuck.

It’s also something that lives entirely in your mind.

Motivation is something that you create. This means you get to decide what motivates you.

In fact, most motivation comes down to desire.

How much do you want to do something?

Lots of times when people come at me with their reasons for not doing yoga at home, I immediately come up with a solution. An easy one. And within seconds, they’ve come up with another reason why they still can’t get on the mat.

Here’s an example:

Them: “My dog is huge and always gets in my way when I practice.”

Me: “Ok, can you put your dog in another room for 10 minutes while you practice?”

Them: “Um….no. The dog sometimes barks really loudly when I put her in another room. She hates it. I can’t practice with loud dog barking.”

Me: “I get it. Can you try noise canceling headphones? Either listening to music or listening to a 10 minute class.”

Them: “I don’t have noise cancelling headphones.”

I could go on, but you probably get the idea.

The more reasons someone gives me for why they can’t do yoga at home, the more I think they probably just don’t want to but feel bad about saying it out loud.

And not wanting to do yoga everyday is 100% fine. Just don’t say you CAN’T do yoga at home. Say you don’t want to do yoga at home.

I promise that honesty will feel freeing.

It will give you the space to choose what you actually DO WANT TO DO without feeling like you should be doing something else and that is powerful.

Now, if you do want to practice yoga at home and are struggling with how to get on your mat, there are lots of simple solutions.

Reasons why you don’t do yoga at home and how to change that:

My kids are all over me or interrupting me during my practice

There are many solutions to this one. First, you can invite them to the first few minutes. Do a few basic stretches with them. Most likely, they will get bored quickly and do something else.

You can also set a timer and say that when the timer dings, you are done and can help them with what they need. Start small (2-5 minutes at a time), then build up to longer stretches (8-15 minutes at a time).

You also might need to get comfortable with a trade — TV time for yoga time. I did this when my older 2 kids were a little younger and not in school everyday. 

Feel like you need to do a long practice every time?

My first question is WHY? Because when you’re home, you’re likely to move faster through poses anyway, so a 60 minute class at home is more like a 30 minute class because the teacher isn’t holding you in poses for an eternity while she observes the entire room.

Additionally, is there really a benefit to doing a 60-minute class vs a 30 minute practice or a 15-minute practice or even an 8-minute practice? I’m going to argue NO. There isn’t. I don’t have any studies to back me up at present because as a mom of 3 I have very little time to do unpaid research. However, I can talk about my experience with habits. If you are consistent with your habits — meaning you do something every day or nearly everyday — you’re more likely to keep those habits and build on them. Pressuring yourself into a 60 minute practice every time you want to get on your mat is a recipe for failure.

Inviting yourself to do 5 minutes everyday is more doable, more sustainable, and will actually get you on your mat.

Need the energy of a room full of people to practice?

This one is tricky but not impossible. Live online classes, like the one I lead in my MOVE with Naomi studio, offers  No, you are not mat to mat with another person so that you can actually smell their sweat (ew…why is that appealing). But you can see them and you can connect before or after class with your teacher or fellow students.

You could also create a yoga buddy system. This would be a few friends who either practice with you at home in person or online via FaceTime/zoom/skype/whatasapp. That way you have the accountability while still at home.

You feel uninspired when not being led through a class?

This one is easy. Pre-recorded classes are the bomb dot com. 

Or join an online studio that has live streaming classes.

Home practice doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself. Practicing yoga at home can include taking pre-recorded or live streaming classes.

Not a lot of space to practice yoga?

Ok, make a game of it. How can I use the walls or the couch or the bed or this chair to do my practice? Or maybe do your yoga in an unconventional space like the kitchen or the living room. If you say, “but my living room is carpeted and I don’t like practicing on carpet,” then you need to ask yourself how important doing yoga at home really is to you.

Not a lot of time to practice?

Who said you need a lot of time? Some days I manage 30 minutes or more. Other days, I get 10 or less. On the days when I have significantly less time, I make the most of my time — meaning I do less warm up and more flow. Or I might just jump straight into the challenging poses I want to do instead of waiting to feel warmed up, just acknowledging that I might feel a little tighter than usual.

If you need a little inspiration for 5 minute classes, I have a free 7 class series called YOGA QUICKIES that will help!

Feel weird about practicing in front of your family?

Sigh…I get it. I do, too sometimes. In that case, you can always make a request if your kids are old enough or partner is able. You’d say, “hey, I feel weird doing yoga in front of you. Can I use this space for 15/30/60 minutes?”

My husband has taken the kids out of the house or offered to be in charge of breakfast so I have time to move or run.

Or you can make a trade: TV time for yoga time.

If you live in a smaller space where the group area isn’t easily vacated, that might mean practicing in that tighter space or less ideal space.

Remember my friend who said her cat used to bite her head when she tried doing yoga?

Well, my suggestion was, “ok, so don’t do poses that involve your head being so close to the ground. Avoid down dog and sun salutes, Focus on standing poses.”

Her immediate response was, “well, I really like doing this one sequence every time. It’s hard to deviate from that.”

I said nothing.

Later she said, “you know actually, I might rethink that — you’ve given me some good food for thought when it comes to the reasons I don’t do yoga at home. And maybe some easy ways to change that.”

Doing yoga at home can feel hard and inconvenient, but only if you’re not willing or creative enough to come up with possible, satisfying solutions.

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