If there was just one thing I’d gift to all new mamas it’s Yoga Nidra, otherwise known as, “Yogic Sleep”. It’s the perfect antidote to lack of sleep.
Don’t get put off by the name. Despite the word “yoga”, it doesn’t involve dynamic vinyasa flows or long holds. Instead, you lie completely still on the floor or on your bed for about 20 minutes. It’s similar to a relaxation where you’re guided by a voice but rather than going on an imaginary journey, you’re instructed to bring your attention to all parts of your body while your body rests.
5 Benefits of Yoga Nidra for Mamas:
- It requires very little effort. Just lie down and listen.
- It’s for everyone including complete yoga novices, pregnant and early postnatal women.
- It’s ok if you fall asleep. Sometimes you’ll stay awake, other times you’ll drift in and out of consciousness and other times you’ll fall asleep- none of it’s wrong. Even if you fall asleep your subconscious is listening.
- Research suggests that a 45 minute yoga nidra equals 3 hours sleep. It’s not a substitute for sleep but it’s a good alternative when you’re not getting enough of it.
- It reduces stress, anxiety and overwhelm. Deep abdominal breathing and rest stimulates your body’s relaxation response.
Carving out time to do yoga nidra with little ones requires a little creativity.
Here’s my tried and tested tips:
- Use one of your pockets of time sprinkled throughout the day to rest. Put your bits and pieces for yoga nidra in one spot in the area you normally do it so that when an opportunity arises you’re ready to go. I have my headphones, eye pillow and woolly socks in a box under my bed.
- On long drives: while your partner is driving (and your little one(s) is asleep in the backseat), put your seat back, headphones in and close your eyes.
- On your lunch break either in a meeting room (lock the door behind you);
- In the park under the shade of a tree;
- Or in your parked car.
Mama Working Part Time or SAHM:
- While your little one(s) nap: as soon as they fall asleep, grab your phone and box of bits and pieces for yoga nidra and start.
- When your Toddler skips their nap: give your little one(s) some quiet toys or books to “read” or let them watch an episode of Playschool. Remove potential hazards or if it makes you feel more comfortable, put your toddler in a secure high chair or playpen. Give them a snack and some water to eliminate anything they may need you for for the duration of yoga nidra.
Before you start, tell them what you’re doing and why. “Mummy is just going to meditate now so that she can be a nicer mummy. I’ll be right here if you need me. Let’s see if we can both be really quiet”.
Have an open mind and very low expectations. Be prepared to be interrupted to find your little one(s) lost toy, get more snacks or wipe their bum. When this happens, you’ll feel frustrated and disheartened and think, “What’s the point?” or “Why bother!”. But tend to your little one(s) and go back to yoga nidra. It’s not perfect but neither is mamahood.
They’ll be curious the first few times you do it but persist. Exposing them to meditation and quiet time and watching you practising self- care is not only beneficial for you but it’s teaching your little one(s) some very powerful tools.
- In the car: if your little one falls asleep in the car, park the car in a quiet and shady spot (by the beach, the park or in your driveway). Put your seat back, headphones in and close your eyes (Hot Tip: keep an eye mask in the glove box).
- Ask for help: ask your partner, friends or family to play with your little one for half an hour while you find a quiet place to rest. Ideally they’ll take your little one(s) for a walk or to the park so no one bangs at your door asking for you for a snack but if not, lock your bedroom door, put your headphones in and turn up the volume. As long as you tell your little one(s) where you’re going and what you’re doing, they’ll be ok and if not the first few times, they’ll get used to it.
Making rest a priority and a habit while you’re pregnant will make it much easier to squeeze in once your new baby arrives. Motherhood and sleep deprivation go hand in hand so making rest a habit while you’re pregnant will make it easier when you have your baby in your arms.
If you’re not pregnant, try a Yoga Nidra on Youtube. If you’re a tired, pregnant mama, get your free 20 minute Yoga Nidra to take you from exhausted to energised HERE. Fill in your details and I’ll send it to your inbox for you to download.
Sleep deprivation is inevitable for new mamas Parents of a newborn will lose anywhere between 400-750 hours sleep in the first year alone.
Here’s my Top 5 Tips for Coping with Sleep Deprivation:
1. Guided Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra)
Don’t get put off by the name. Despite the word “yoga”, it’s as easy as lying on the floor or your bed and listening to a guided relaxation. Research suggests that a 20 minute Guided Deep Relaxation known as Yoga Nidra is equal to 3 hours sleep. During Yoga Nidra, your mind and body go into a state of deep relaxation unlike regular sleep so it’s the ultimate way to combat sleep deprivation.
Yoga nidra is for everyone including beginners, pregnant women and new mamas. You don’t need any props, but you can use an eye pillow or eye mask, a blanket and earphones to make yourself comfortable. If you’re pregnant and in your third trimester, lie on your side with a pillow between your knees and under your head.
Begin by lying on your bed or the floor. Turn your phone onto “Do Not Disturb” so you won’t be interrupted by a call, text or alert. Choose a yoga nidra from YouTube (search for “postnatal yoga nidra”), put your headphones on, cover your body with a blanket and your eyes with an eye pillow or eye mask, close your eyes and enjoy.
Best time to do it:
- When your little one has a nap.
- If your partner is home, ask them to play with your little one(s) while you do it in your bedroom with the door closed and earphones in.
- If you’re struggling to get through the afternoon and wondering how you’ll make it to bedtime, give your baby a toy or if they’re older let them watch an episode of Playschool while you do it nearby.
- If you’re the passenger in the car on a long road trip.
- If you get insomnia, do it before bed. It’ll help you fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep.
2. Legs Up The Wall (viparita karani)
If you don’t have time for yoga nidra, this is a good second best way to cope with sleep deprivation. As the name suggests, it’s as easy as elevating your legs. When your heart is lower than your feet it doesn’t have to pump as hard to return blood from the lower body. Your resting heart rate will fall and after 5 minutes you’ll feel relaxed and recharged.
Legs Up The Wall is for everyone including beginners, pregnant women and new mamas. You don’t need a yoga mat- just a wall or a chair. If you’re pregnant and you feel light headed or breathless, stop. Instead sit on a chair or the couch and elevate your feet with a pile of cushions on the coffee table (great for getting rid of cankles).
- If you’re using a blanket and an eye pillow, have them close by. Sit on the floor with your right hip close to the wall. Using your hands to support you, lean back, swing your legs up onto the wall and slowly ease your shoulders and head down onto the floor.
- If your hamstrings are tight, wriggle away from the wall and bend your knees a little so that your buttocks is on the floor.
- Drape a blanket over your legs if you like.
- Put your eye pillow or eye mask on and close your eyes.
- Rest your hands on your belly. After pregnancy, it’s soothing to reconnect with this area but also a reminder to breathe into your belly.
- Lay here for about 5 minutes (stay for longer if it feels good and your feet haven’t fallen asleep).
Best time to do it:
- After your put your baby to bed.
- Once your baby has good head control, sit your baby on your belly with their back against your legs (support them with your hands).
- While you’re breastfeeding.
- Before you go to sleep, lie on your bed and put your legs up the wall.
3. Gentle Stretching
After birth, the general rule in regards to returning to exercise is 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery and 8 weeks for a c- section. But gentle stretching isn’t in the same category as running or going back to the gym.
Birth, sitting for hours feeding your baby, walking with your baby in a carrier and lack of sleep can leave your lower back, hips, neck, shoulders and wrists very tight and sore. Gentle stretching can help to ease your pain and help you cope with sleep deprivation.
If your baby wants to be held, do my Baby Wearing Yoga sequence with your baby in a carrier or wrap HERE.
You can ease back into yoga when you feel ready. Yin Yoga will give you an incredible stretch and recharge your batteries. Going to a yoga class may not be possible, but doing a class online while your baby naps or with them playing alongside you is a good option. Check out Yoga Glo
Best time to do it:
- While your baby is asleep in a carrier or wrap.
- When your baby is napping.
- Ask your partner, a friend or family member to look after your baby for an hour.
- While your baby is asleep in the pram, walk to a park or the beach and stretch in the shade while you get some fresh air.
- If your baby is awake, do yoga with them on a rug beside you while they soak up their surroundings. Check out my Baby Yoga sequences on my YouTube channel for some fun for them too.
4. Essential Oils
Instead of reaching for coffee when you have a 3pm slump, use essential oils for an instant pick- me- up.
Place a drop of peppermint, wild orange and frankincense in the palms of your hand, rub them together, close your eyes (otherwise the oils will sting your eyes) then cup your hands over your nose and inhale deeply. Then rub your hands on the back of your neck (wash your hands thoroughly before you pick up your baby).
Best time to do it:
- Whenever and wherever you need a pick- me- up. Carry them in your nappy bag so they’re always on hand.
To find out why I choose doTERRA essential oils and how to get your hands on them at wholesale prices, CLICK HERE
5. Ask for help
You know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well it also take a village to raise a mama. Filling your cup isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. In the first year of mamahood, this doesn’t mean going for a pedicure or buying a scented candle. It’s the small things that recharge your batteries so you can get up to your baby multiple times a night and still be a loving partner, sister and friend.
Have the courage to ask your partner, a friend or family member to take your baby for a walk while you have a shower and wash your hair, do a 20 minute yoga nidra, do some stretching or go for a walk. It’s not selfish, it’s a necessity. It might help if you think of it as a way for someone else to spend some quality time with your baby without you looking over their shoulder.
There’s always something to do as a mama; cleaning, washing, laundry, cooking etc. but it can wait. Use the small pockets of time throughout your day for self- care. Rather than scrolling facebook or instagram, do a yoga nidra or enjoy a hot cup of tea. Make YOU a priority.
If you’re pregnant, start building your village now. Create a postnatal plan and have a think about who you can call on for help.
Are you pregnant? Get your free Guided Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra). Fill in your details HERE and I’ll send it straight to your inbox for you to download.
I’d love to hear your comments and questions in the COMMENTS below.