Pandemic, Kids and Yoga Practice: How to Make it Work (sort of)

Hello, parent yogis. This one’s for you; a show of solidarity as we approach the end of a very strange 12 months. I see you: your yoga classes have been stopped and started and stopped again (if repeated lockdowns have happened in your area), your income has been uncertain, childcare has been hit and miss (if it still exists where you are at all), and you’re trying to do everything all at once. 

Trying to keep your business going in the face of so much uncertainty while you keep your kids happy (and homeschooled), and handle the inevitable stress and anxiety that you’ve faced since the start of the pandemic. All without much in-person support from friends and family, too. 

So firstly, wow. You’re still here. Still taking each day as it comes. Even if it feels like everything’s falling apart, just getting through the day is enough sometimes - so well done for doing that! 

And secondly, how’s your yoga practice going? Yeah, I know - the idea of taking a bit of time for yourself each day to get on your mat and move (or sink into a child’s pose and stay there until someone shouts your name) seems a bit ridiculous. How can we keep any kind of personal practice going with all of the other stuff we have to juggle right now?  

Everyone else around you benefits from a calmer, healthier you. And even if it was a totally selfish deserve it.  

I’m with you. I’m a full-time freelancer, Mum of two very young kids, and even though I’m very lucky to have a partner who shares the load with me 50/50, time (and energy) is tight at the moment. If you’re doing all of this without someone to carry half the load, all the more respect to you; I can honestly say I don’t know how you do it. You’re amazing. 

To answer my own question, most of us can't maintain our usual personal yoga practice right now. But we can adapt it for the current challenges and carve out some time each day to breathe (remember what deep breaths feel like? It took me a minute, too!) and move. And do not forget: it is not selfish to make time for yourself. Everyone else around you benefits from a calmer, healthier you. And even if it was a totally selfish deserve it. So here are three ways to keep your practice alive while global chaos reigns. 

Do what parents do best: multi-task

You know this one already. That thing you do when your child asks for a snack and you make it and then you answer the phone and then your child shouts at you because they wanted the bread cut into triangles, not rectangles, and then you cut the bread into rectangles while you explain to the person on the phone why you don’t actually owe them any money (hello, gas company, I’m looking at you), and then your child says they wanted the jam UNDER the peanut butter, not on top of it, and you turn the bread inside out while you answer an email from a client and tie up your shoelaces because it’s time to pick the other child up from somewhere?

Yes, that. 

You can do that with your yoga practice too.  

Because the core component of your yoga practice is breathing; and you can breathe while you do (almost) anything. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even breathe in different ways while you do different things; for example, try sheetali pranayama while you’re answering emails on your phone, or lion’s breath while you’re getting the kids dressed. They’ll love it. 

You’ll realize you’re more adaptable than you thought, and you’ll find other, smaller ways to tap into yourself (or you won’t - that’s fine too) 

Run and hide

Is your partner with the kids? Has your Mum or Dad or best friend come over for a cup of tea? Have they said, in passing, “Hey, if you need ten minutes to yourself, go for it…”?

Great. Pretend your email inbox doesn’t exist, forget about the online classes you need to schedule and plan, ignore the washing up (those dishes are only going to get dirty again, anyway), and run. Hide. 

Get your yoga mat, go to a different room, put on some noise-canceling headphones, do two surya namaskara and then get into savasana and relax. It may not last long; but it’s something, isn’t it?



Let your practice fall apart for a bit

We’re always talking about non-attachment in yoga, and about letting go. So on those days when there Just. Isn’t. Any. Time, you can practice yoga by not practicing yoga, and being OK with it.

Because we do get attached to our yoga and meditation practice. It becomes something we need to include in our lives in order to feel like ourselves, or to feel peaceful, or to feel like we’re learning and growing in the way we want to. 

So, as much as I wish I could magically find an hour for you to move your body and focus on just one thing and bliss out a little, it’s not a completely bad thing if we have to let go of our practice for a while. You’ll realize you’re more adaptable than you thought, and you’ll find other, smaller ways to tap into yourself (or you won’t - that’s fine too). 

And when you do have time to return to the mat, you’ll come to it with that beginner’s mind again; you’ll discover new feelings, experiences, and new potential in your practice. 

In all seriousness, I know things aren’t easy for all that many people right now. And honestly, if you’ve found the time to come online and read something that isn’t the latest live Covid news, I salute you. You’re doing great. Let’s hold onto a bit of hope for a different kind of year ahead - one in which yoga businesses, as well as each of our personal practices, can be rebuilt and thrive again. 

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Izzy Arcoleo
Izzy Arcoleo is a yoga teacher and writer based in London. She’s passionate about drawing together physical yoga practices with yoga philosophy and anthropological theory to create practices that are inspiring, supportive and fulfilling.

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