‘We’re going to be lions,’ I say.
‘Rah,’ says the toddler.
This was going to be easy.
Keen to see an improvement in our afternoon energy levels, this week for my Parenting Calm project, the toddler and I decided to try a yogic breathing technique called lion’s breath (click here for instructions).
The toddler is very supportive of my yoga practice. Whilst I’m in downward dog she tucks my hair behind my ears, or sits on my head, depending on her mood. My bridge pose looks to her like a slide and my child’s pose like a comfy cushion. It’s all very relaxing and our shared yoga sessions are generally more beneficial for my chiropractor’s bank balance than anything else.
‘Are you ready to be a lion?’ I ask.
‘Rah,’ says the toddler.
‘We’ll take a big breath in and then breath out like this: haaaa,’ I say, sticking my tongue out and raising my eyes to the ceiling.
The toddler looks a little surprised, possibly because her mother’s face has been replaced by that of a paralytic lizard. It’s a look that some of my friends may have seen before. It’s not very lion-ish.
We try it together. The toddler takes a big breath in.
‘Haaaa’, I say.
‘Breathe out’ I say.
‘Um, please breathe out now.’
I do my drunk lizard face again. The toddler breathes out, sticks her tongue out and licks my nose.
Overall, we have more success with the ‘lion’ bit than the ‘breath’ bit. We crawl around the living room and roar for a while, which is strangely relaxing in itself. We introduce penguins, monkeys and elephants into the mix. None of these animals aid our breathing practice, and I suspect the toddler monkey to be the ringleader in a surprise banana raid.
Although the toddler may still be a bit young for this particular exercise, I figure anything that helps her develop awareness of her breath, and is also fun, is probably a good thing. As an added bonus, my lion’s eye view of the living area leads to the discovery of a wooden tea cup, a bouncy ball and half a fish finger; all presumed missing in action.
I tried lion’s breath myself several times this week too, and found it most useful when I was feeling a bit stressed or cross and felt like a bit of a ‘shake out’. I like it as part of a yoga practice, but found the alternate nostril breathing I tried in this post to be more meditative, and more effective as a quick head-clearer and energiser.
Next week will be dedicated to ‘Superpowered Sleep’.
With the continuation of pregnancy insomnia, and the arrival of a new sleep thief in a matter of weeks, sleep is likely to become an increasingly rare commodity.
Now, the toddler is an early riser and often a restless sleeper, but I’m aware that the blame for my tiredness doesn’t lie entirely at her little feet. As with many mums my peak email and social media times tend to be late into the evening, and recently I have even picked up my smartphone when I’ve been unable to sleep during the night. In terms of increasing my quality of sleep this is about as effective as asking the toddler to bring her ‘simples’ (cymbals) into bed with us, a trick I usually reserve for when her father has a hangover.
My initial plan was to take myself off to a spa hotel in The Cotswolds for a week, but my husband was less enthusiastic about this idea than I was. Coincidentally an email from Kelly Pietrangeli of Project Me – for busy mothers, dropped into my inbox a few days ago, referencing a recent talk on Balance and Mindfulness by Arianne Huffington that Kelly had attended.
I’m a big fan of Arianna Huffington and love her TED Talk on sleep (worth a click, if you haven’t yet seen it). Kelly’s blog post went on to talk more about the importance of sleep and keeping our batteries charged, and by the end of it I decide to accept Kelly’s challenge to establish a nightly ‘shut down’ for all electronics. I’ve been planning on scaling down my online time for a while, so this seems like a good place to start.
Superpowered Sleep consists of 3 simple things:
- Switching off electronic devices for at least 10 hours per night, beginning an hour before bedtime.
- A lavender scented room spray.
- For ‘whirring brain days’, a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing.
Anyone else in?