Everyone one seems to be talking about “self-care.” That is easier said than done when you are a mama.
What many of us come to realize as we traverse the sometimes rocky path of motherhood, self-care often takes a back seat to the other concerns and responsibilities. Who has the time for self-care? I know it seems like a luxury, but it’s not— self-care is essential. I have found that I have to prioritize it or it simply won’t happen. As a mom, I found yoga to be an important part of my self-care. Honestly, it helps me to be a better mom. I find that when I care for myself, I am better equipped to care for others.
Here are three ways that we can start to incorporate self care into our lives so it sticks, and nourishes us on a daily basis.
#1 Feed yourself.
No one wants to feel lethargic and cranky. We all know the effects of a nourishing meal on our bodies and minds. But it can be so hard as mamas to feel that we have the time to get the nutrients we need.
Some of my friends in this arena of women’s health, like Katie Louderback, recommend adding simple foods that bring a whole bunch of vitamins and minerals to our daily diet. Adding foods that are rich in vitamin C can make a big difference in how I feel. Some of my favorites vitamin C powerhouse foods include citrus fruits such as oranges, plus strawberries and raspberries which are great with breakfast, as well as kale. I love kale chips as an afternoon snack!
These are good kid-friendly alternatives to other common snack foods! I also really like red bell peppers with hummus for an afternoon boost. Adding sprouts to your sandwiches and salads also goes a long way for energy, especially in spring when sprouts start popping up at our farmers markets. (Some of my favorites include broccoli sprouts, and sunflower sprouts!) Other good vitamin C-rich foods include sea vegetables (such as dulse flakes which can be found in the Asian or specialty foods sections of stores like Whole Foods)—an easy addition to soups and stir fries. And don’t forget fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchee (another easy side dish for your next meal)! I know I can always tell the difference not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, when I eat well.
#2 Be kind in relationships.
It is so important to be kind to ourselves and those we love—especially our partners. It is essential to be kind to one another. I think this is an important part of self-care that can be overlooked. How we are in our relationship to one another can sometimes be a reflection of how were are in relationship with ourselves.
Parenthood can be really hard and kindness can be in short supply when we are feeling overworked, under appreciated and downright bone tired, so dig deeper to find the kindness we all need more of. My husband and I have been together for over 25 years. One of my marriage vows was to appreciate the sparkles in his eyes (when we first met, I saw sparkles in those gorgeous green eyes) and to look harder if I can’t find them. We promised to hold each other in the light. This has sustained us in the darker times. Kindness is self-care.
#3 Move every day.
Exercises like yoga, dance, walking or any kind of conscious movement is essential for our health and vitality as women. As a yoga teacher, I’ve found that when my mamas come to class and work to build strength in their shoulders, arms and legs they are much more equipped to handle the physical demands of birth itself and being a mother.A movement practice like yoga can not only help us feel physically stronger, more flexible and help reduce some of the aches and pains of carrying babies and schlepping kids, but also it can help to manage the mental and emotional stresses and strains that come with the job.
A movement practice like yoga can not only help us feel physically stronger, more flexible and help reduce some of the aches and pains of carrying babies and schlepping kids, but also it can help to manage the mental and emotional stresses and strains that come with the job.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned on this journey is that motherhood is not martyrdom!
When you nourish and feed yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, it has an impact in our own well-being, of course, and also for the well-being of our children and families. Children learn from example. Let’s show them what is important right from the start!
P.S. Jane is hosting her popular Mama Tree Prenatal Yoga Teacher Trainings coming up soon at Yoga Tree Potrero! Explore the art of teaching yoga to mamas with the Bay Area’s top teacher. Level 2 runs July 13 – 17 and Level 1 starts in the Fall, October 12 – 16. Learn More.
About the Author:
For two decades Jane Austin has worked with mamas, not only as a yoga teacher but also as a midwife, doula (labor assistant) and childbirth educator. She weaves her experience as a midwife, doula, childbirth educator, and mother into her work. Jane is the founder and director of Mama Tree, a Yoga Alliance registered school dedicated to training yoga teachers, birth professionals and other health professionals interested in teaching prenatal and postnatal yoga. Jane’s teacher training program attracts students from all over the world interested in learning how to utilize the practice of yoga to support pre- and postnatal women physically, mentally and emotionally.
It is Jane’s mission to offer women a mindful, supportive and nourishing yoga practice that empowers them not only in pregnancy and childbirth but for all the years of motherhood that follow. It is her vision to bring yoga to all pregnant women.
Although her teaching is influenced by many teachers and traditions (including Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Anusara), Jane’s most inspirational teachers remain her own children and the many mamas and couples she has worked with over the years.
To watch a video preview of Jane’s teaching, click here.
“Jane Austin is THE authority on prenatal yoga. If you want a training that will prepare you to confidently teach yoga to pregnant women, this is the training to take”
~Christina Scalera, Carte Blance Wellness & Mama Tree Alumnae