Adventures in yoga with a six month-old

The other week I was asked if I’d be able to write an article for a yoga magazine. The subject was how yoga could help women who’ve recently given birth. The deadline was in three days.

Now if I didn’t have a six month-old baby, I’d have cracked it out in an afternoon, no problem. But instead I declined saying that if I did have the time to write it, my advice would be: childs pose and savasana are your best friends and that every new mum needs a bolster.

Here are some of observations about yoga from my experience of having a baby from zero to six months:

– Post-natal yoga classes with your baby are great but very different. When the lovely Laura at The Yoga Hall says, “…and back to your breath…” it can be anything but calming when surrounded by bawling babies. During savasana you may be the only mum in savasana because others are doing the baby bounce/sway or feeding. I loved the classes though.

Jacob 'enjoying' a class at The Yoga Hall
Jacob ‘enjoying’ a class at The Yoga Hall

– Practice with your baby on your mat: prepare to have your hair grabbed with such intensity that down-facing dog must be aborted.

– Doing any amount of practice at home needs to be congratulated.

– Mula Bandha – Using your pelvic floor to gain lift and lightness: Ha! Not a chance! I practice my pelvic floor exercises while cleaning my teeth (that tip is thanks to Josie Raison. Her baby yoga classes in St Albans are great).

– My time for yin is when I’ve put him in his hammock and he’s drifting off to sleep. No eye contact, on his bedroom floor. You’re still able to sing Twinkle Twinkle if required.

– Ujayyi breath can calm him (and me).

– I asked teacher Lucy Crawford when she thought it would be ok to return to an Ashtanga practice. She suggested at around three months but it’s a long journey. It’s like you’re a beginner again, with an entirely different body. You approach poses as if you’ve never done them before… because it’s a new experience in this new body. It keeps your mind present, exploring the possibilities of body.

– Acceptance is a huge thing. Accepting this is your practice for now with this body.

– Making comparisons: There’s enough comparing going on when you have a baby: who’s sleeping, teeth vs no teeth, who’s got a routine. I was given Yes Mum cards. They sit next to his changing mat and I turn a new card every day. One of my favourites reads: ‘I do not need to compare myself to other people’.

Yes Mum cards
Yes Mum cards

But I wouldn’t want it to be any different. I love being a mum to Jacob.

What are you experiences of yoga with a baby? Anything you’d like to share?