I’m a bit of a high-stress person. One of my favorite and most time-consuming hobbies is to replay any and all cringe-worthy moments of my life over and over in my head.
When I get bored of that, I like to devote some quality time—usually between 2:00 and 3:00 am—going over any potential calamities that may befall the children or myself in the future. If I have time left, I like to reminisce about Bad Things That Didn’t Happen Yesterday but Could Have.
I’ve been told by many people that I should learn to meditate. I’m quite sure that meditation would release some of the tension in my shoulders and probably relax some of the wrinkles around my eyes, but that sitting still and emptying your mind thing is not one of my strong suits.
However, I accidentally discovered 10-minute yoga, and I think it has changed my life for the better.
Here’s what happened—my SigO went out of town, so I decided to do a self-enrichment staycation at home. I was going to exercise twice a day, drink at least one full pot of tea each evening, eat many crunchy vegetables, and of course, binge-watch some fabulous TV involving royal families, ballet dancers, or cheerleading competitions.
Unfortunately, my ambitions don’t always match my fortitude, and that twice a day exercise thing quickly morphed into ten-minutes when I woke up and another ten minutes before I went to sleep. I randomly tried streaming various ten-minute programs, and one night I was really tired, I went with yoga, because you, know, it’s relaxing and easy and everyone loves it—or so it seems.
It turns out, not all yoga is relaxing or easy. This yoga in particular was challenging enough that it shut off all the stressy voices in my brain. I had to focus on trying to keep my hips square in warrior one, or trying not to tip over.
I’m not well-balanced or graceful. While I was focused on not falling over the yoga instructor said nice things about “the fingerprints we leave on others’ lives never fade,” or something inspirational along those lines and it was kind of like meditation for people who can’t sit still.
I did it again the next morning. And the morning after. It has now been several months of doing 10-minute yoga first thing in the morning and I haven’t yelled at the kids for dragging their feet before school even once.
It culls the tension from my body, and it doesn’t work up enough sweat that I have to shower, which is awesome because if I had to allow enough time to shower after yoga I would only do it half as often. (Not that a damp washcloth doesn’t come in handy on some days.)
Since I’ve been doing these ten-minute segments over and over, I no longer need an instructor. I made a playlist of three classical songs that total ten-minutes, and sometimes I just close my eyes and flow on my own. The benefit of this is that I can do five minutes when I’m running late and still feel as if I’ve kept my promise to myself.
When you have children and spouses and obligations demanding your attention, some days even 10 minutes feels like more than we can swing. I found that doing just one song (3 minutes, 34 seconds) is something I can always make time for. And that small act of making time for myself makes me a calmer, stronger, person.
Plus, it makes it that much easier to keep my routine the next day. I find myself doing another ten minutes while my nine-year-old practices clarinet. Another 10 minutes before bed. Soon I was doing 20-30 minutes of yoga without feeling like I was sacrificing time away from my family.
I have gotten more limber—which is particularly appreciated since I am rounding the bend on 45 years old this year. Instead of squeezing my thighs and disparaging how squishy they are, I appreciate the streng of my legs. (And my thighs are getting less squishy.)
I stand taller. And I feel a lot less stabby, which I’m sure my children benefit from. And for me, that less-stabby part is unique to yoga. I don’t get that calm and peacefulness from other exercise, and I’ve tried most all of them—Zumba, weight lifting, kick-boxing, Pilates.
Don’t get me wrong—they all have benefits, but in my case yoga seems to make me happiest. Instead of feeling like it’s a punishment for all the bad things I ate, yoga feels like a reward for making it through this thing we call motherhood.
If you have toddlers, you may be thinking that this is a nice idea and all but when the baby is awake you can’t do a downward facing dog or else s/he will decimate your entire living room in 3.7 seconds. In this case, I’d like to recommend the Classical Baby DVD series. (We have Classical Baby: The Art Show and Classical Baby: The Dance Show.)
They consist of soft classical music and cute animations, and while I can’t guarantee they will buy you ten-minutes of yoga time, you can probably pull off at least three sun salutations to my personal favorite yoga song, Peer Gynt: “Morning Mood” by Edvard Grieg (Dance Show: Track 7).