As a mom of a 20-month-old, my biggest issue is that I don’t have a lot of time for my home practice. I could get up in the mornings before my daughter, and sometimes I actually pretend I’m going to, but who am I kidding? I’m a tired mom. Sleep wins more often than not. I know my home practice will come back as my daughter achieves more independence, and in the meantime, it’s important to do some yoga daily, even if it’s not a full hour, candles, and oming. I’ll take my yoga where I can get it.
This was a big point of discussion in our Postnatal Reset workshop on Saturday. (The next one is offered April 15, 1-2:30 at Carrboro Yoga Company. You can register here.) How do we make our practice work in the short time we have available as moms? When my daughter is napping, I’m usually at the computer doing things that need my full attention. I don’t have the luxury of using that precious time for yoga. Quite often, I do my yoga while hanging out with my kiddo. Sometimes I roll my mat out, but that means that my daughter jumps on it and does her own “yoga” practice, which negates mine. (It’s hard to do Down Dog with an additional 20 lbs of shifting weight pulling on your arms and neck.) So lately, I have been doing a wall practice. I don’t need a mat. And there’s always a wall available, so it’s the perfect prop. I can do a sequence in my daughter’s nursery as she happily plays around me, and I always feel better (and calmer) for it.
Not only is the wall a prop you have readily available, it’s also an exceedingly useful prop to help you build upper body strength, unkink your upper back (which can often feel tight from holding and feeding your babe), and stretch your shoulders and chest. And while I’ve mostly used this sequence as a mama, this may also feel great if you’re pregnant. Here are a few moves you might find helpful:
Downward-Facing Dog at the Wall
Downward-Facing Dog at the Wall offers a big back stretch, deep hamstring stretching, and a chance to explore your spine. Come into this position by bringing your hands to the wall and creating an L-shape with your body. Walk your hands higher up or lower down until it feels just right to you. If your hamstrings are quite tight, bend your knees. If your low back feels crunched, scoop your tailbone under just a bit. You can come into this pose and find stillness, or you can explore movement, like sinking and arching your spine in cat-cow like movements.
Just like you do in the on-the-mat version, spread your fingers wide and use your whole hand here to support your wrists. There is much less weight on your wrists in this version (a plus, if you’re experience baby-related tendonitis or wrist issues). Once you get comfortable and familiar with this pose, explore: try lifting one leg and then the other or stacking your hips or opening one arm out to the side and then the other. There are lots of great possibilities for sequences and movements.
Downward-Facing Dog Wall Push-Ups
I love these, as they target the muscles in the upper back that are under-worked and over-stretched from long nights of baby-holding or nursing. Come into Down-Dog at the wall, and inhale to bend your elbows, exhale to straighten your arms. Repeat 5-20 times.
Wall Shoulder Stretch
This fantastic stretch opens your chest and shoulders and can feel like much-needed relief if you’re tight and tired in the upper body. Stand with your feet parallel to the wall and stretch your arm closest to the wall back behind you. Press your palm to the wall, with your thumb up–ensuring external rotation. You can use your free arm to gently press into the wall to find the stretch that feels best: less is more here. Hold for 5-20 breaths. Back off if you find yourself gritting your teeth or powering through. This should be a pleasant stretch! Make sure to do both sides.
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