Welcome to Chime's YogaView series! Each month, I interview yoga teachers and practitioners to learn how their yoga practice is an empowering force in their lives. This month, Keya Williams, founder of Nourished Motherhood, shares how yoga keeps her honest, calm, and helps her navigate the unpredictability of life.
1. As a mother of three small children, how do you fit in time for yourself?
Fitting in “me” time used to be a challenge. When my oldest was a baby, I didn’t even realize I was someone who needed to be taken care of until I started to feel worn out. I would snap at my husband and feel annoyed with my baby.
To get “me” time back in my life, I would put the kids to bed and do something as simple as go grocery shopping by myself. Getting out alone felt like heaven! As the kids got older, I would put them and myself down for a midday nap. I also learned to speak up and ask for what I need from my husband, often requesting a few hours to myself to go to the bookstore, get my nails done, or meet a friend for coffee.
Now my children are 10, 8, and almost 5. I find I have more time without them, but I also have more to do when they are not around, and so I have to schedule “me” time. I literally put my “me time” appointments on my smartphone’s calendar. It’s like I tell my clients, if you don’t put it on the schedule, it doesn’t get done!
2. How does asana help you manage stress, and which poses are your favorites for calming overwhelm?
My yoga practice is like a mini vacation. Most people don’t know this about me, but I have a family history of hypertension, and as a teenager, I had elevated blood pressure when I was in a chronically stressful situation. Calming my nerves is very important to my health.
I incorporate forward folding poses into my practice, because these poses calm the nervous system and bring the heart rate and blood pressure down. Child’s pose is actually my favorite pose to quiet overwhelming thoughts and feel calm.
I stay away from poses that are particularly stimulating, like intense backbends. Although I think they are fun, my nervous system doesn’t agree. I also use pranayama to keep my stress levels in check. Before bed, after a particularly busy day, I practice Bee Breath (Bhramari) to calm me down and help me disconnect from the outside word.
3. How do you use yoga as a time management tool?
Tapas, is one of the niyamas of yoga and it means self-discipline. These are activities that you make time for because they are important to your growth and/or your health. These tasks take effort and may not even be your favorite things to do. I find that when I do my tapas, then the rest of my day falls into place. Because I have already set time aside to do the things that I consider a priority, I feel like I have free time to do everything else.
4. How does yoga help you be a better mom?
My first couple years of motherhood were an absolute wreck! Did I mention I’m type A? Did I mention I get frustrated and annoyed with people when things aren’t going my way? These are not the best personality traits to possess when you’re responsible for a couple of unpredictable tiny humans!
My yoga practice doesn’t make these parts of my personality go away, but it does make me more aware of them. Because yoga teaches awareness and self-study, I’m able to recognize when a bout of “pissy attitude” is coming on. I can then make adjustments, so I can be kind and patient with my kids.
The best part is that my kids see me take a deep breath instead of flying off the handle. They see me read, practice, and meditate. I can only hope that seeing me do these things will help them be kind and compassionate people. For me, that’s what being a good mom is all about.
5. How has your work with other moms contributed to your own commitment to self-care in your life?
It really boils down to practicing what I preach. My private clients, students, and yoginis in my Yoga Mamas Facebook Group hold me accountable, even though they might not know they are doing so.
When I show up on a yoga video or in a class or on my Facebook group, I want to be my authentic self. I want to work on my “mom life” the same way they are working on theirs. And I can’t do that if I think I’ve “arrived.” There is no “getting it done” in yoga, or in life. We are all on this journey of evolution and self-exploration, and I consider it a great blessing to do work that makes me focus on taking care of myself as I take care of my family and my business.