I love yoga.
My first yoga class was twelve years ago when I was 18, at a [shady] gym where the teacher grilled me rather aggressively in front of a class of about 40 women, on how to properly do a downward dog. That experience would have discouraged many people from ever trying it again. But I continued, on and off for years to come.
Here in Greenville is where I truly fell in love with my practice. When we first moved here and I was not able to work, I did yoga 4-5 times a week at an awesome studio called Zanti Power Yoga where the majority of classes are heated. The teachers at Zanti are phenomenal and the flows were awesome. I finally found my home with yoga and have never looked back. Even with regular lifting, circuit training and cardio, my body has never felt stronger or more balanced than when I practice yoga regularly. I continued my hot power yoga practice until I was 30 weeks pregnant, and then started to take it easy and listen to my body. And like all things, while pregnant, always be sure to clear with your healthcare provider as well as experienced and knowledgable yoga teachers, what is the best practice for your physical abilities.
Prenatal yoga was an absolutely essential practice for me while I was pregnant. It was the only space for me to breathe deeply with other women in the same pregnancy sphere, get my body relaxed and ready for further weeks of pregnancy and then labor and also find comfortable positions to lie down because by week 28, that was getting harder and harder. I looked forward to prenatal yoga every single week and I believe that my practice throughout my whole pregnancy helped me avoid pretty much any major discomforts. I had no swelling, minimal back pain – which was remedied by many pigeon poses – and even I was impressed by my core strength right through postpartum. I have to say that my yoga practice and oceanic breathing were pretty much integral to laboring and giving birth without pain medication, as well as helping me stay focused in those 13 hours of natural labor.
Needless to say, finding time, space and focus to practice yoga these days is challenging. Classes at the studio or gym are either during crucial family time or crucial nap times. I have found some time once or twice a week to do some yoga
on YouTube with Lesley Fightmaster, and her flows are awesome. But that’s
with a baby standing on my head begging to be picked up or played with after about 15 minutes. Savasana – what’s that?!
So when Mom and Baby Yoga started up again with my friend, Mary, I WAS BEYOND STOKED. We had done a few classes when John Fredrick was around 8-10-12 weeks old, but then the classes were on a temporary hiatus. The few classes we had done were amazing, and totally what I needed. When I heard it was starting up again, I invited all my Mama friends because I believe this class is beneficial for all babies and their Mamas!
Now you might be asking – how the heck do you do yoga with a baby?
Well the Mom and Baby yoga classes are totally fluid, informal and Mommy and Baby friendly. What that means is that Moms can do a flow and have their baby either lying on a blanket next to them, which was what it was like for me back in October, or crawling around all over the place like it was for me today.
The first few classes we did back in October were unpredictable. My first class was spent half doing yoga and half nursing, rocking, swaying and changing a diaper. But THAT is the beauty of a Mom and Baby yoga class – everyone is doing either one or all of those things! Nobody cares if your baby is crying or that he or she pooped or if you are breastfeeding in warrior 2 (why yes, don’t mind if I do and I did), yoga as a Mom with your baby is an INCREDIBLE experience and as an avid yoga lover, I feel so honored and proud to teach my son, even at such an early age, the joy and blessing of movement and exploring what your body is capable of, no matter what stage of life you are at.
Going back to Greenville Yoga today brought back such wonderful memories. I haven’t been back to that studio since I was 39 weeks pregnant, 3 days before John Fredrick was born. I remember getting to the studio twice a week and just being so happy because this was my breather – my pregnancy “me” space. I met so many lovely Mamas to be and we shared so many stories, feelings, experiences for months, and we all watched each other grow as well as our bellies. Mary recalled a time where I arrived at the studio with my giant belly and just slumped on the bench in the entryway and let out a huge sigh. That made me laugh and also warmed my heart that my teacher and friend remembered and shared that moment with me during the season of my first pregnancy, and now I get to practice with my baby in my arms.
During prenatal yoga, Mary always used to say, “Hug your baby” and that was not with our arms but it was by drawing our core and pelvic floor in as we transitioned into different poses. She said it in class today and, with a laugh, corrected herself because all of our babies were no longer in our bellies to hug, but right next to us. I almost started to cry as I remembered “hugging” my baby in my belly during my yoga practice and feeling so connected to him as part of my body during pregnancy. The unknown of that first pregnancy is just so beautiful and connecting to your baby through movement with your body is such a beautiful memory to me. When I was pregnant, I always consciously thought, “You are doing yoga with me, my precious baby!” It was so heartwarming to know that my body was no longer just mine, I was sharing it and taking care of it for the sake of my baby. That made the ability to move and practice yoga even more sacred to me.
So today was our first class back and it was amazing. John Fredrick literally started to truly crawl last night and he was all over the place today. I finally met a Mama and her sweet boy whom I had been talking to for months, but we never got the chance to get together. I met two other Moms with tiny ones and a Mama that also brought her 3 year old. And another lady who has a 12 week old and remembered me from prenatal classes looking like I was “ready to give birth in class and still doing all the movements” That made me laugh and proud! What made me even more proud was that today, here we all were, now Mothers and our lives have drastically changed since pregnancy. Even the differences between baby ages and experience was a topic to share between us. Some Moms were still in Survival Mode – which is pretty much the first SIX MONTHS. And us “experts” (ha! Don’t make me laugh) at 6-7-8 months and beyond said the obligatory – but true “It gets better!”
And it does. The world is a different place with John Fredrick in it. My life is a different life. My faith has grown stronger. My words and conviction bolder. And my yoga practice has evolved even more into a flow of respect and honor for my body, what it has accomplished (hello baby growing and birthing) and how a love and joy for movement can help teach my son how to respect and exercise his own body. Mom and Baby yoga is nothing like the power yoga I used to do and it’s hardly a physical workout at all, but that’s not the point. A grueling heated power yoga sesh is not what I need right now and out of respect for my body and my baby, it’s not what I will seek out. My yoga practice is full of love, laughter and joy spending time being kind to my healing body and my growing baby.
Didn’t expect this for a Thursday. It was a great one and getting to practice yoga with my growing baby Poppy is such a joy. Loving every minute of it.