Good news! There IS time for yoga! It may be a little different than you want or expect, but yoga is there for you, and there is time. I’ve recently been doing what I call a 5x5x5 practice. I love it!
In the postpartum days I was devastated that I couldn’t return to my regular yoga practice either out at a studio or an hour at home, because my time was so broken and the demands were incessant. Every 10 minutes I would be doing SOMETHING- changing a diaper, nursing a cluster-feeding baby, holding her because it was the only thing to keep her from fussing, stuck on the couch for two hours while she napped on me, or a variety of other baby-related needs.
I was convinced there wasn’t enough time to do yoga.
I was still attached to my old routine and clung to the idea that I needed at LEAST 45 uninterrupted minutes of time at home or at a studio in order to do a “real” yoga practice. I had not yet surrendered to a new way of doing things.
My daughter is older now and things are much different. But there are days where I still ponder how I could fit in a practice. Between waking, the hurry to get her off to child care, car commute, work, errands, picking her up, cooking dinner, cleaning up, bedtime, taking care of all the other things that weren’t done while I was away all day, connecting with my partner… and well, at the end of the day I really just wanted to crash on the couch and watch Parks & Recreation. And I only have one child!!! My guess is you feel the same way, for a variety of reasons (and single mamas, you truly do it all and then some).
I began to wonder if I could break it up into a few micro-yoga practices throughout the day. Especially since I now believe even five minutes can be an exceptional yoga practice when done with full presence of mind, body, and soul. This is how I came up with the 5x5x5 practice: Do 5 yoga poses for 5 minutes, 5 times per day. Five beautiful minutes of presence, prayer, and gratitude scattered throughout the day. What would that look like in my life? What would that feel like during the day?
I started this practice, and even though it took a few days to remember to do it, it became a blessed way to go about my day.
Some wonderful things I’ve discovered since doing a daily 5x5x5 practice and why I’ll continue:
I’m not strict with the 5x5x5: It’s roughly five minutes, give or take a minute. Depending on the situation I may do five slow poses or I may do several more if I want to flow through them quicker. Some days I take the breaks seven times, some days just four. 5x5x5 is a guideline for me, not a rigid structure.
AND the five minutes doesn’t always have to be asana. I love to add in pranayama (breath work), meditation, devotional chanting (kirtan), and mantra recitation. However, let me be clear: this isn’t multi-tasking! I’m not talking about doing yoga poses while I’m doing something else like washing dishes or listening to a podcast. I’m not a fan of multi-tasking. These five minutes of yoga are to bring mindfulness to the pose, the moment, the breath. It’s sacred; a moment to pause and become present before moving on.
I’m astonished how many times I find five minutes to simply break for the practice: while I’m sitting in bed having just woken up, after getting out of shower, in the car commute, between emails at work, waiting for my tea to heat, sitting at the table while my daughter finishes eating, just after I lay her down for a nap, right before leaving the house, in line at the store, before I drift off to sleep… I’m sure I’ll continue to find more pockets of time.
A long, full yoga practice is still great when I’m able, because over the course of an hour/hour and a half it builds strength and stamina, preps my body for more advanced postures that are not easily done on the fly in jeans, and an extended flow is a wonderful way to dive deep within.
But, something really beautiful has started to open up during my days that I didn’t have before. There’s less anxiety in filling the moment by plowing through the next item on the to-do list. An eagerness to momentarily shift inward has replaced it. Regardless whether the 5x5x5 is a “real” practice or not, it just feels better to have it integrated in my life.