To all the women and men I’ve seen jogging with running strollers: I applaud you. To any parent who’s ever hiked while wearing a kid in one of those big backpacks with the frame that kinda makes it look like a cage covered in canvas: I applaud you. To any mom or dad who’s ever schlepped their kid to the gym daycare so you can get twenty minutes on the elliptical with your magazine, I applaud you. I, however, choose the yoga poses you'll inevitably make up while playing with your toddler as my preferred method of exercise and, if I'm being honest, it's working out just great.
Like many women who’ve given birth, my relationship with my body has changed immensely in the last couple years. I take plenty of walks with my little, so I’m not a complete blob, but I haven’t been able to find a way to make exercise (in the traditional sense) a regular part of my routine. Also, I haven’t updated my iPod since the year 2011 so my music selection is far from encouraging and not necessarily the motivation I need to get to a gym
So, having found myself spending hours on the floor with my little in any given day, I try to be a little intentional about just what I do with my body. Some of the stretches feel so good that I’m certain they must be helping me somehow. And the rest? Well, at least they don’t seem to be hurting. Let me share:
The "I Can’t Even"
Laying fat on your stomach, arms outstretched, head resting on the floor. Great for beginners, this foundational pose allows you to use all five senses to take in the world from the floor. Keep your eyes open to the crumbs your toddler has dropped, the hair your dog has shed, and the way your breathing intensifies this deep stretch of your core.
The "Leave Me Alone to Die"
Laying flat on your stomach, arms folded in front of you, head on arms. Close your eyes to truly feel the aloneness of this rejuvenating pose. Allow yourself to drift in and out of consciousness, trying the capture the elusive phenomena known as "sleep."
The "Downward Facing Sloth"
Standing on both feet, leaning onto the crib, one arm stretched to mattress. Best performed in the middle of the night.
For an even deeper stretch, allow the crib railing to dig into your ribcage.
The "Get Down From There"
Half-lunge while on tiptoes, arms outstretched toward whatever heights your toddler has somehow been able to ascend. This intermediate stretch provides you the opportunity to test your balance as well as your reaction time.
The "Extended Get Down From There"
To increase flexibility, allow yourself to step toward your toddler. Keeping your legs in a wide stance, reach for him or her and hold for three counts. Don’t forget your mantras during this pose, as they are sure to come in handy.
The "Hibernating Bear Hug"
Standing upright, holding your child as he or she sleeps and despite your discomfort. Allow your arms to twist naturally toward your body, with the weight of your toddler providing just the right amount of stress to your arms, upper and lower back.
The "Airplane Piloter"
Laying flat on your back with legs vertical feet up, balance your toddler on the soles of your feet. Use your soles to connect your souls.
The "Shoulder Your Pain"
Place your toddler on your shoulders in a seated position, with one of his or her legs next to each one of your ears. Use your arms to steady him or her. With legs wide and feet square planted, this advanced stretch is easy to get into but, admittedly, challenging to get out of.
The "Reading Rain Back Bow"
Sit on the floor with no backrest, allow your toddler to select a seated positon in your lap. Curl your neck and back forward. Practice breath control as you read aloud from your toddler’s selected book.
The "Reading Rain Back Bow, Hardback Variation"
Remain in place for more than three minutes, or ten picture book pages.