On a scale of 1-10, with one being completely calm, and 10 being as stressed as you can be, how would you rank right now? Think about a couple factors that might be contributing to the stress: school, work, kids, friends.
Now try this quick exercise. Close your eyes. Let your body relax. Hunch your shoulders toward your ears. Let them drop. Breathe in and out through your nose for five seconds: 1...2...3...4...5.
Now – I’ll ask you again. On a scale of 1-10, how stressed out would you say you are right now? Did you number decrease after the brief breathing exercise? If not, would you at least say that you feel a little bit more relaxed?
Between work, the kids, relationships and other obligations, it’s amazing that mothers can get anything done. But today I want to introduce you to a new activity that can help you relieve stress and burn calories: Yoga.
Now, if you're like me you might turn your nose up at the idea of yoga. I used to think it was lame, just a bunch of breathing and stretching. That's not real exercise, I'd say.
But then I learned there is so much more to yoga. Even as celebrities like Tia Mowry and Russell Simmons have embraced the practice and raised awareness about it, there is still some mystery around the centuries-old art. Do you know what yoga can do for you? Here's just a few benefits:
- Regular yoga practice can help ease backaches and pains, according to researchers with Spine magazine. Next time you feel your back tensing up from carrying around your kids all day, think about doing a few yoga poses to work the kinks out.
- Suffering from insomnia? Studies have shown that yoga can improve your sleeping habits, helping you go from restless, fitful sleep, to really sleeping like a baby.
- Got too much on your mind and can't seem to focus? Researchers at the Mayo Clinic say yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. So close your eyes, take a deep breath and stretch!
- For pregnant women, quite a few studies have shown an increase in flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth. There are a slew of prenatal yoga classes available at local gyms or maternity centers, designed to help ease the aches and pains of pregnancy and also to help expectant moms prepare for childbirth.
- Researchers at the University of California-Berkley also found that women who practiced yoga regularly also felt better about their bodies. Yoga is one of those exercises that forces you to be in tune with your body's movements and abilities, leading to higher self-confidence.
- For all you mamas who are working to lose that baby weight after giving birth, try yoga! It's a gentle, low-impact way to burn calories. Tia Mowry credits yoga with helping her shed most of her 60-pound weight gain from baby Cree!
Have you given yoga a try? What did you think? What are some of your favorite poses?
Tara Pringle Jefferson is the founder of TheYoungMommyLife.com and the author of Make It Happen: The Young Mommy Guide To Creating The Career You Crave. Follow her on Twitter or check out her blog for her insights on what it means to be a mom, wife, student, writer, and about three other labels she’s too tired to remember.