I'm a Mom and a Yoga Instructor: Here Are My Simplest Ways to Deal With Stress

Sarah Larson Levey, the founder of Y7 Yoga, a national chain of yoga studios, offers tips on how parents can manage stress and focus on self-care without feeling bad about it.

Sarah Larson Levey
Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Larson Levey

When Sarah Larson Levey, the founder of Y7 Yoga, a national chain of yoga studios, became a mom, she changed her thinking on sleep, exercise, and her body—and she's never felt better. Now her self-care lessons are yours.

Adults Need a Bedtime Too

Before my son was born, I used to be able to function on very little sleep. Now it's important for me to carve out time for true rest. Without it, I can't give my best to any of the things in my life. It's not always possible, but getting rid of screens and distractions in the bedroom plus being in bed by 10:30 has helped.

Get a Change of Scenery

When my son, who is now 14 months, is having a meltdown, he needs a new environment to get calm. And I'm the same way. To reset our moods, I strap him to me and go for a quick walk in the neighborhood. Those 10 minutes of movement throughout the day offer a huge payoff.

Self-Care, Anywhere

I love gua sha facial massage and find ways to fit it into my day; I often do it while I'm on a phone call. First, I apply a face mist or oil for some slip, then I glide the stone over my face and neck. The repetitive motion feels good, makes my skin look tight, and really relaxes me.

Celebrate What Your Body Does

Pregnancy helped shift my perspective on my body. Suddenly, my body was responsible for protecting and growing another human, so my workouts became about strength and flexibility. It was frustrating postpartum to take the time to heal and not be active, and I needed to learn how to have more gratitude for my body and how to speak kindly to myself. Because I work in fitness, there was extra pressure to bounce back, and it was hard to shift that narrative. I had an "aha" moment when I realized I may never have the body I had before, and that's okay. Now I'm all about feeling my best.

Put Your Needs on the Calendar

It's important for me to take a Pilates Reformer class once a week, so I had a conversation with my partner, and we worked it into our family schedule. I feel guilty about taking the time, but it isn't for a frivolous reason. We are responsible for crafting these little lives, and I think it's so cool for kids to see us as well-rounded people in more roles than just as a caregiver. And doing things that make me happy makes me a better wife and mom.

Sarah's Picks

Jade Yoga Mats
Courtesy of Jade Yoga

"This Jade Yoga Mat is great because I can keep my grip without putting a towel on top."

Free People Movement Leggings
Courtesy of Free People

"The Free People Movement Leggings are incredible. Their options take me from workouts to errands and everything in between."

The Golden Secrets Sorceress Stone Beauty Tool
Courtesy of The Golden Secrets

"For gua sha, I use The Golden Secrets Sorceress Stone Beauty Tool, which has different edges that cup the face."

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's September 2021 issue as "Smart, Simple Ways to Deal With Stress."

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