My inspiration for teaching mama and baby yoga (or how I hope you do NOT feel at your mama and baby yoga class…)
I attended my first mama and baby yoga class when my daughter was eight weeks old. I remember feeling extremely self-conscious and like I must be doing everything all wrong. While everyone else’s babies happily did tummy time or slept, mine cried every time I tried to put her down and we ended up spending the whole class breastfeeding! Worst of all, no one spoke to me, asked how I was doing or tried to reassure me that it was perfectly normal to have an unsettled baby. In that room full of mamas, I felt incompetent and alone.
Despite, or perhaps due to, my unhappy experience with mama and baby yoga, I was completely drawn to it when I did my yoga teacher training. When I graduated and started teaching classes of my own, I vowed that none of my clients would feel as stressed or out of place as I felt back then.
Attending to your baby’s needs – it’s still yoga!
The first thing I tell my clients, especially those with babies under four months, is that it is absolutely normal for babies to cry! Mama and baby yoga is not quiet and peaceful, it can be loud and chaotic, and the babies seem to take turns to be unsettled. There is no need to feel self-conscious or stressed because we’re all mothers and we all understand. It really is true that no one else finds your baby’s cry as provocative and all-consuming as you do.
The second thing I tell my clients is that it is absolutely encouraged for you to give your baby as much attention as they need. Walk, rock, bounce, feed, hold, change, do whatever it is that will sooth and nurture your baby. While you do what your baby needs, notice your breath, do your pelvic floor exercises and be present with your baby, that’s still yoga. Mothering is yoga, but that’s a post for another day!
Elements of Yoga Mindfulness Motherhood’s Postnatal Yoga Classes
The class itself will include many of the same elements as a general yoga class: pranayama (breath work), asana (yoga poses), mindfulness and relaxation, but adapted to suit the needs of a new mama.
The physical aspects of postnatal yoga focus on:
- restoring energy and vitality
- reconnecting with and gently strengthening the abdominals and pelvic floor muscles
- opening through the chest to reverse hunched breastfeeding / baby rocking posture
- strengthening the body to cope with the rigours of motherhood (carrying babies/toddlers)
- gently stretching and mobilising the whole body
The mindfulness and relaxation aspects of postnatal yoga focus on:
- being present with your baby
- loving kindness towards yourself and your baby
- mothering as a spiritual practice (mothering as meditation)
Additional elements of Yoga Mindfulness Motherhood’s Mama Circle
Motherhood can be intensely lonely. When creating my mama and baby offering, it was very important to me to provide an opportunity for my clients to connect with like-minded peers, to build their villages, to share and normalise their experience of motherhood, and to feel nourished and nurtured.
Mama Circle includes both a gentle, feminine yoga class and a mothers’ sharing circle. The sharing circle consists of a short reading and guided discussion on a particular topic or theme, followed by an opportunity to chat.
Topics of discussion may include:
- yoga and mindfulness practices
- peaceful postpartum and the fourth trimester
- gentle parenting
- infant massage
- building your village and asking for help
- oxytocin and embracing baby brain
In creating this unique offering, I hope that all of the mamas who come to my classes experience a sense of connectedness, of being embraced, and of peace and joy.