Before my son was born, I enjoyed going to yoga classes. It was a place for me to unwind, relax and stretch. When my son was born, I looked forward to attending baby yoga classes as a way to relax. Ha! Well, I still love yoga, but when you bring baby along – relaxing it ain’t!
Sure, it starts out well. The baby is momentarily dazzled by all the natural light and wood beams. They stare in open fascination at the yoga poses. If it is your first class, they may even drift off into a short nap. “This is amazing”, you think. “So relaxing. We will have to come back.” But don’t be fooled. This will not last.
Oh no, this sense of peace cannot last because you are not at yoga – you are at baby yoga. I know what you are thinking: “Newbie Mom, how can I tell the difference?” Well, aside from the babies all over the floor, there are several key differences between yoga and baby yoga:All the moms are lopsided. No, not that. I mean that they are relaxed on one side and tense on the other. You see, inevitably the baby will let you do the poses on one side, but need attention when it comes time to do the other side. Warrior I on the left side? No problem. Warrior I on the right side? Oh HELL no, mommy! This will not do. At any given time, only about half of the women in the room are actually doing the poses.
All the women are multi-tasking. Remember how you used to come to yoga class to do yoga? Not at baby yoga! Everyone is there for at least two other reasons, including leaving the house, justifying their habit of wearing yoga pants and to talk to adults. No one is just doing yoga. Nope, they are simultaneously doing yoga poses while wrangling rolling babies, breastfeeding and shaking a distracting toy. If you are just here to do yoga, you are in the wrong place.
Finally a place to lie down. Now, where is my baby?
Baby yoga is NOT zen. Sure it is calming and nice, but you will not leave with a sense of peace. Mostly because you spend the whole time worrying that your baby will make a fuss so loud it will ruin the class. Or worrying about why you can’t do these poses any more. (FYI, it is because you just made a human.) Or maybe worrying that your shirt is too loose and that it will float up during downward dog and show off your remaining baby weight. If you are lucky enough to still be calm at the end of the class, by the time you pack up the baby, that sense of peace will be long gone.
All the poses have to be modified. (At least for a while.) No matter how much you worked out before, the post-baby body is an entirely different place. You may need to modify poses you could do well before either because your body will no longer do them. (This will pass.) Alternatively, you may need to modify poses if there is a baby hanging off of you. Think of it as yoga with a side of weight training.
Baby yoga is LOUD! In every class, no matter how good the babies are, there comes a time when the babies seem to revolt en masse. It starts with one fussy baby, but soon spreads around the room like a wave at a baseball game. Soon, the whole room is fussing while their moms rock, feed and soothe their babies. Maybe the babies are uneasy with all the calm and quiet or they are crying in sympathy for their fellow tiny humans’ distress, but either way it’s loud y’all!! Loud! In regular yoga your background sounds might be birds chirping or soothing, new-age music. The instructor never has to speak louder than a subdued whisper because it is lovely and quiet. In baby yoga class the background sounds may include crying, singing, eating, burping, pooping and baby babble. The instructor has to yell the instructions boot-camp style over the fussing babies. At least all the noise keeps everyone awake. I have seen no fewer than 3 people fall asleep in yoga classes. This is not a problem in baby yoga.
So, now that you know the difference, pack up your baby’s gear and head out to stretch your right side at baby yoga. But not your left. Sorry, that will have to be next week.
Namaste, my friends.