Yoga for New Parents

A reader, an enlightened mom with a four-month-old who’s in the habit of waking up eight, count ’em, eight times a night, wrote to me asking, “How did you deal with sleep deprivation when Lucien was born? I feel like I’ll never have enough energy to get back on the mat!”

This question took me back. When Lucien was four months old, did I make it to my mat? It’s all pretty foggy. I remember meditating in bed. I remember an unsuccessful mommy and baby yoga class when Lucien was six weeks old that had us both in tears.  I remember long walks in the park and a mommy and baby workout class where the guy at the front desk held Lucien when he cried.  I remember a more successful mommy baby yoga class at four or five months.  I remember sneaking out between breast feeding sessions to make it to the occasional yoga class when I could.  Eventually, around six months, I began attending a weekly class.

What I don’t remember AT ALL was having a regular, daily home practice when my baby was four months old.

Like the reader who wrote to me, I was exhausted.  Weren’t you?  If I could time travel, I would tell the new mother me to not worry so much about getting my old practice back. That will come with time. I would tell myself to nap when my baby does, even if working means that can only happen on the weekends.  I would remind myself that the baby years go fast and my yoga practice is here with my for life.

As the wise saying goes, the days are long but the years are short.

I would suggest that for starters, I aim to make it to a yoga class once a week, or once ever other week or even once a month. I would put a gentle hand on my shoulder and tell myself to sleep when I need to, and to find a new quick and fast practice when I do make my way back to my mat. Restoratives when your co-parent takes over; a headstand or Triangle Pose to wake up in the mornings; to use feeding the baby as a time to breathe and meditate; put your legs up the wall when you think of it and sit your baby on your lap. Take it slowly. Be easy with yourself.

The same day I got this message, Lucien decided to put himself to sleep. And he’s done so for the past seven nights in a row. It feels like a mini miracle. No more “magic milk,” no more sitting by his bedside as he fights sleep. Now Lucien gets his teeth brushed and story read and gets tucked into his bed by a parent (usually Neil) and then he takes it from there, finding his own way into the land of dreams.

Four years. The days are long but the years are short.  Get some sleep, Lindsay, your mat will be waiting for you.

Jessica Berger Gross is the author of enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle Pointer (Skyhorse). She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband and four-year-old son. “Like” her author page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter @jbergergross. Visit her at www.jessicabergergross.com.