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Mom-asana: 3 Practices for Mindful Motherhood

Janet Stone offers mothers a pose, a writing exercise, and a daily ritual to make every day more mindful.

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Yoga teacher and mother of two Janet Stone, who will lead our upcoming Yoga for Moms online course (enroll now and be the first to know when this mom-inspired course launches), is offering YJ readers a series of weekly “mom-asanas” for strength, fitness, and grounding at any stage of motherhood. This week’s mindfulness-asana: Gomukhasana with Garudasana arms.

The mind is a complex place where our past emotional, somatic, and familial imprints are so deep. The adventure of mothering brings out all of these, including ones we didn’t even know we had. These imprints can surprise and sometimes even frighten us.

When we enter a practice of mindfulness, we begin a limitless journey of understanding the mind’s workings and our relationship with our thoughts. Start with these three exercises.

3 Mindfulness Practices for Moms

1. Writing Practice: Start the journey into your mind.

Try this exercise to help you get started on your journey into mindfulness: Write down what your ideas are of a “good” mother, partner, and person. Then, write down how you feel about yourself compared to these ideas. Finally, write down where you would like to place your attention on a day-to-day basis. This can be as vague as the notion of having more compassion, or it can be as specific as saying three kind things to yourself, your partner, and/or your children each day.

2. Make each morning more mindful.

Here is another small practice that can help you begin each day with mindfulness. Upon waking up, no matter who’s crying for attention, sit upright, “wash” your hands over your face (perform the motion as if you were washing your face), place your feet on the ground, and take 9 slow, intentional, even breaths, either reciting a mantra that resonates for you (one that grounds me is om gam ganapataye namaha, or“I bow to Ganesha, lord of the senses and remover of obstacles”) or pausing to listen for the feeling of the day. Allowing yourself the space to go quiet and listen to your internal landscape offers a pause from constant reactivity and translates into responsive calm. At its core, it’s a simple act of bringing attention to this moment through the breath.

3. Mindfulness-asana: Gomukhasana with Garudasana arms (Cow Face Pose with Eagle Arms)

To represent mindfulness, I chose the pose Gomukhasana with Garudasana arms. Gomukhasana in the legs brings to light all we hold in our hips (emotions! feelings!), and Garudasana in the arms can help us remember to find perspective.

To experience this pose: Bend your left knee and bring your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Bring your right knee on top of the left knee. Position each foot as close to the opposite hip as possible. If your hips or ankles are tight, it may help to prop your hips on a bolster. Gomukhasana is simply an extreme cross-legged position. If your hips are tights, Sukhasana (Easy Pose) is another option. And I highly recommend a blanket or meditation cushion under the hips.

To find Garudasana arms, bring your right arm under your left arm in front of your body. Bend your elbows and bring the back of your hands together in front of your face. Then, bring the pinky edge of your right hand to the thumb edge of your left hand to bring the hands to Prayer. It’s also fine to keep the back of the hands pressing into or toward each other. Allow your shoulders to soften away from your neck. Lift your elbows to be even with your shoulders and move your hands away from your body. Close your eyes and allow the mind to slow. Find 5–10 breaths on this side, then switch sides.

San Francisco–based yoga teacher Janet Stone started her practice at age 17. A student of Max Strom and meditation teacher Prem Rawat, Stone teaches vinyasa flow at events around the world. Her new kirtan album with DJ Drez, Echoes of Devotion, hit number 1 on iTunes’s World Music chart this year. Stone has two daughters and offers this advice to moms: “Motherhood offers infinite lessons in the realms of surrender, empowerment, grace, mistakes, and patience, and then some more patience—as well as the endless unfurling of transitions and change. Practicing yoga amidst this adventure can support us in myriad ways to find our center.” Learn more about her upcoming course, Yoga for Moms.