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Self Care and Meditation with Rebecca Ryan (LAB #03)

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We rave about Rebecca Ryan (aka Beck) and her work all the time on social media and this isn’t the first time we’ve had her share some of her Life After Baby experiences (find Beck’s previous interview here). BUT, she is SO inspiring and full of wisdom that we had to have her as our guest on the podcast so you could learn from her first hand. Since writing her first book Mindfulness for Mothers, we’ve been spreading the word far & wide about the beautiful practices Beck offers her tribe.

Rebecca Ryan is the author of ‘Mindfulness for Mothers’ and a mother of two. She is also the founder and principal yoga and meditation teacher at Surrender Yoga and Meditation, providing prenatal, postnatal and mums & bubs yoga since 2007. Rebecca enjoys sharing her passion for meditation with other mothers, whether long-term meditators or newbies, and encourages her students to allow mindfulness to seep into their daily lives. She lives in Melbourne with her family right around the corner actually from Andy! and the two have had the privilege of meeting in person.

During this soulful conversation we talk about:

  • What actually is mindfulness and how can we practice it?
  • Why meditation is so powerful
  • How to use meditation during difficult times
  • How self care as a mama actually benefits our children too
  • Beck’s go-to practice for busy mamas

Did you get loads of tips from Beck’s episode? Share with us in the comments below. 

Meet Beck

Rebecca Ryan is the author of ‘Mindfulness for Mothers’ and a mother of two. She is also the founder and principal yoga and meditation teacher at Surrender Yoga and Meditation, providing prenatal, postnatal and mums & bubs yoga since 2007. Rebecca enjoys sharing her passion for meditation with other mothers, whether long-term meditators or newbies, and encourages her students to allow mindfulness to seep into their daily lives. She lives in Melbourne with her family

Connect with Beck | Resources

Rebecca Ryan

More from Beck

Tell us a little about you and your family

I’m originally from Sydney and I now live in Melbourne. I love to travel and this love of travel goes back to my childhood. I lived in London for a while when I was in primary school and then was an exchange student in Germany. I went to university in Sydney, Germany and Malaysia. I met my husband, Stephen Reilly, at university and together we have lived and worked in Singapore, London, Sydney and now Melbourne.

Stephen and I have been married for 22 years! Marriage can be hard work and we have had our share of difficulties, but the rewards of such a long partnership are fantastic. We have a 12 year old daughter, Harper and a son, August (Augie) who has just turned 7.

We still love to travel, even though we don’t go away as often as we did pre-kids. The other thing that has changed about our travel is that we used to travel to see and do new things. Now travel is more about spending time together as a family and connecting with friends and family. We have taken the kids to the UK, Singapore and the USA to show them where we used to live and catch up with family overseas.

Share with us your first experience with yoga

My first experience of yoga was when I was living in London and working in an investment bank. I had a membership at a gym that I mainly used to swim in the indoor pool. They offered  a yoga class and a friend said it was a good class so I went along. I didn’t know much about yoga and had no expectations. I loved it from the first class and went to the same teacher’s classes weekly for the rest of my time in London. My teacher encouraged us to have a home practice.  I started an almost daily home practice at the same time as I started going to yoga classes. It is almost 17 years since that first class and my teacher’s focus on a home practice turned out to be such a great thing for me. It allowed me to keep going with my yoga practice later when I moved countries and didn’t know where to go to classes, had a baby and found it hard to leave the house to get to a class or had injuries and other things going on in my life that made yoga classes difficult. Throughout the ebb and flow of my life, my yoga practice has helped me physically, emotionally and mentally. I’ll forever be grateful to my first teacher and her suggestions on taking yoga out of the class setting.

When I started my yoga teacher training in 2006 I tried to get in touch with my first yoga teacher to thank her. Unfortunately, my contact details for her were out of date. As part of my yoga teacher training I was assigned a mentor and she became a crucial aspect of my yoga teacher journey. When my book, Mindfulness for Mothers, was published in 2016, I had the opportunity to thank her publicly and I did. One of the things that I have learnt through yoga is that expressing gratitude rocks! It really does benefit the person who expresses it as well as the receiver.

One of my greatest lessons in gratitude came late last year when Stephen was diagnosed with a stage one melanoma. Having lost my mother to cancer when I was 9 years old, Stephen’s diagnosis hit me hard. As we waited for the surgery and then the results of the surgery it was easy to spiral down a long list of ‘what if’ worries. My meditation practice helped me greatly. I also know that asking for help is a good thing to do when you are stressed. So l did ask for help.

Throughout the cancer treatment process we tried to focus on how much support we had, how amazing the health care professionals were, and how much we had to be grateful for. I am not advocating for ignoring what worries or frightens you, rather for balancing your troubles with honest awareness of what else is going on for you, or what else remains great in your life despite the challenges. Thankfully, Stephen is currently cancer-free and for that I am truly grateful.

On a side note – get your moles checked people! If it is not cancer, no harm done. If it is, you’ll be grateful to get that out of your body as soon as possible.

How do you prioritize self care?

The wisdom of how important self-care is for me has been a long, long time coming and a difficult process of tilting too much towards ‘what should I be doing’ and ‘what is best for my kids’ and finally coming to the mindset that self-care is a daily habit. It is not negotiable and not a luxury, but a necessity. I acknowledge that his has been a difficult process because I don’t want to present a glib ‘just take care of yourself’ answer. I don’t think that is helpful to us mothers. I think it is easy to dismiss the struggle of finding yourself and taking care of yourself as a mother when you emerge from the baby phase and have your children at school like I do. I take much better care of myself now that I have more time and more skills.

That said, I don’t think new mums need to suck it up and wait til the kids are at school before making self-care a priority. There are daily habits that you can start even with a newborn in your house. One of mine is a morning breathing practice and a mantra. I DO NOT get up early to do this. You can if you like. It takes from 20 seconds to maybe 2 minutes at most. Currently, my practice is that I wake up, I stretch long in the bed, put my hands on my belly and take three deep breaths, noticing the rise and fall of my hands on my belly. Then when I get out of bed, I stretch my arms over my head and say my mantra. At the moment it is:

Waking up this morning I smile

Twenty-four brand new hours lie before me

I vow to live fully in each moment,

And look on all beings (including me) with eyes of compassion.

from Thich Nhat Hanh

I also have a seated meditation practice later in the day and an end of day practice. Because I bookend my day with my self-care practices, if I miss my seated practice in the day I don’t miss out all together.

Another daily self-care practice I have is that I sit to have a coffee after the school drop, either at home or in a café, some days with a friend. I also walk my dog daily. These self-care habits I do regardless of the weather or what else is going on. Whenever I walk my dog in the rain I think to myself ‘good on you!’

I do the same with my meditation practice and try to sit daily. Some days when my mind is super busy and buzzy, I finish and think, ‘I was so scatty, does that even count?’ I know the answer to that now, it all counts. There isn’t good meditation and bad meditation, just like there isn’t ‘a successful dog walk.’ The one exception to this view of my daily habits is that there is bad coffee and good coffee! Melbourne has taught me that.

How do you incorporate yoga into your #mumlife?

For me yoga includes meditation, asana, yoga philosophy and self-study. I try to incorporate all these aspects into #mumlife. My meditation, I’ve already mentioned, is a daily habit.

For asana, I try to do a few yoga poses a day and go to one class weekly. I’d love to make it to two classes a week and I’m working towards that this year. I enjoy the community aspect of being a regular in a yoga class and I went to the same class for years in Sydney, taught by my mentor. However, by nature I often prefer to practice alone, so I am trying to be open to finding the balance between home and class practice.

I love yoga philosophy and self-study. I like to read yoga texts and yoga-related books. I also enjoy journaling and putting into writing my reflections. At the moment I’m re-reading parts of a book that I read years ago that has beautiful, practical self-care ideas. A Pace of Grace by Linda Kavelin Popov.

I really enjoy researching the benefits of meditation and trying to find new ways to help mothers fit mindfulness into their days.

My yoga mission is to help all mothers experience the simple, life-enriching joy that comes from truly being present in anything that you do. I see my role as providing a wide circle of mums with access to simple techniques and ancient wisdom that can be applied in a fun and easy way to their modern lives. I am trying to do this through my book, my workshops, the meditations that I share online and hopefully soon a podcast.

My yoga practice and teaching has changed so much over the years. I’m hoping to remain open to the ways it will continue to change as my life changes. For me at the moment as I approach my 45th birthday, with two kids at school and more time to myself, I am very excited about what’s next in my yoga journey.