It is no secret that parenting can be exhausting – mentally, emotionally, and most definitely physically. It can take its toll on your body in ways that you would have never expected. When you are pushing around those strollers full of kids, your arms are getting an incredible workout that sometimes can leave you feeling achy and sore. We are forever bending and reaching, carrying babies, picking up our kids, and leaning over to change copious amounts of dirty diapers.
It is important to take care of yourself, and that includes incorporating some gentle exercise into your routine, to help you cope with the physical demands of parenting. One way that many parents enjoy exercising is by doing yoga. Yoga is a relaxing way to strengthen your body and loosen your aching muscles. Here are 10 ways that parents can benefit from yoga.
Yoga builds muscle strength
Many new parents often remark on the number of muscles they never even realized they had before having children. Raising little ones calls for the use of many different muscles, many of which haven’t necessarily been used all that much before. Yoga can help to strengthen these muscles, and all of your muscles, to give you the power you need to carry that fussy baby throughout the night or to lift that toddler onto the swing. It is gentle enough to be compatible with any level of physical fitness, and you can progress at your own pace, slowly increasing muscle strength as you go.
Yoga reduces stress
Parenting and stress seem to go together like bacon and eggs, and despite the immense love we feel for our children, it can get overwhelming at times. Yoga is a wonderful way to reduce some of that stress and tension that you are carrying around with you. Through the mindful breathing and meditation practices associated with yoga, you can lower your stress level substantially. By practicing yoga on a regular basis, you will find that your overall mental and emotional states are calmer and more peaceful.
Yoga improves flexibility
There are some awfully strange and uncomfortable positions that you can find yourself in when you’re a parent, whether it’s ninja-crawling out of your baby’s room in hopes they don’t wake up or bending down repeatedly to search for their lost soother under the couch. By increasing your flexibility, you can cut down on the pain of strained muscles. Yoga can help to stretch out those muscles and increase the flexibility you need to keep up with your little ones.
Yoga improves your posture
As mentioned before, your body really does go through a lot when you’re a parent, and your posture is no exception. When you are carrying a baby around for long periods of time, your shoulders and neck often compensate by slouching to relax tired muscles. As well, nursing an infant can often cause slouching as well, as you gaze down lovingly at your baby and try not to nod off during the nighttime feeds. Poor posture can lead to increased muscle and joint pain, as well as fatigue – no parent needs anything adding to their fatigue! Yoga can help to straighten your spine and improve your posture.
Yoga helps to increase blood flow
This is an important point on so many levels, as increased blood flow means better health overall. Yoga gets your blood moving, which in turn improves cardiovascular health and circulation throughout the body. It also increases your levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which are the vessels that carry oxygen to all the tissues in your body. This is so beneficial for everyone, but especially for parents who may be dealing with other health concerns like heart conditions or swelling in the extremities. By simply incorporating yoga into your fitness routine, you can help to diminish some of these other health issues.
Yoga is something that you can do with the whole family
There are many studies that have been conducted recently that tout the benefits of yoga for not only adults but children as well. In our fast-paced world, the calming mindfulness techniques that yoga provides are beneficial for all family members. Even if you have a baby, there’s no reason why you couldn’t pop your little one into a baby carrier and let them move along with you. There are many fitness facilities that even offer Parent & Tot yoga classes, where your children can join in, and the pace is manageable for everyone involved.
Yoga can help to reduce your blood pressure
Did anyone else’s blood pressure climb a bit since becoming a parent?? Let’s face it, parenting can be downright stressful. Whether it’s the fact that your child is going through a growth spurt and no longer sleeping through the night, or your tween has now decided they’re going to challenge every request you make, or you’re worried about how you’re going to pay for their university, it’s no wonder that our blood pressure can sometimes increase as well. Yoga can help to reduce your blood pressure by providing relaxation techniques and calming movements that have an overall positive effect on your blood pressure.
Yoga helps to fight depression and anxiety
This point is not necessarily just for parents, but for anyone who struggles with anxiety and depression. Often, those types of feelings can be exacerbated by the stresses of raising children, and yoga is a healthy way to combat that. Studies show that yoga can help to decrease levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in our bodies. This, in turn, improves our overall mental health, and helps to decrease feelings of anxiety or depression. It makes us happier and healthier parents in the long run.
Yoga strengthens the immune system
No one needs a stronger immune system than a parent, especially those of school-age children who are bringing home all sorts of bugs and flu from school. Children haven’t mastered the art of sneezing into their arms or covering their mouths when they cough, so parents are often very susceptible to catching colds from their kids. Yoga can actually help to strengthen the immune system, by reducing inflammation in the body. Because yoga helps to reduce stress, it also decreases the stress hormone cortisol (as mentioned above), which in turn improves immunity.
Yoga helps to improve sleep
Do you know any parent who isn’t in need of better sleep? Most parents complain of being sleep deprived, whether due to a baby waking through the night, a toddler battling nightmares, or a teen that stays out too late. We are all in need of better quality sleep, and yoga can help us to achieve that. By reducing our stress levels, improving mental health, and increasing blood circulation, yoga helps to set our bodies up for a good night of quality sleep. Some studies show that yoga has even been found to increase the secretion of melatonin in the body, which is the hormone that regulates sleep.
Yoga has many wonderful health benefits, and it is a great exercise option for busy parents. Even fitting in a 15-minute yoga workout each day can yield positive results. Whether you do it on your own or make it a family activity, yoga is a great option to improve your overall mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.