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?

Guest post: New parent/carer and child yoga class in Harpenden

At the end of next month, my teaching buddy and friend April will be starting a new yoga class in Harpenden. It’s for parents and carers to do with their children. In this guest post, she tells us more about the class.

April Nunes Tucker parent child yoga Harpenden
Big dog little dog

The Big Dog Little Dog Yoga class was born out of a request on Facebook. On the Harpenden parents’ group someone was asking whether they knew of any yoga classes they could do with their kids.

I did some Googling to see if there was already something like it out there but I couldn’t find anything. There’s lots of classes for mum and baby or toddler but not actually with your kids so I thought it would be fun to start something.

I know that I enjoy having Lincoln and Grace ‘help’ me in my practice at home so the new class format takes in some of that including physical partnering, breath work and relaxation. It’ll also include some experiential anatomy – this is a dance term and it’s when you learn where things are by feeling. You use touch and movement exploration.

It’ll be my son Lincoln’s yoga teaching debut – he’s 4 (start em’ young, I say…) and he will be demonstrating the postures with me. When we practice together I feel that it brings us closer physically and goes beyond normal cuddling.

It’s also purposeful because there’s a physical exchange. So in a twist, we must both rotate our bodies equally to get the benefits of the practice. Or he might need to back bend so I can forward bend. It’s the reciprocal nature of a partnering practice but you’re doing it with your child.

April and Lincoln twist
April and Lincoln twist

The class offers a chance for the relationship to be one of equality. You’re not just the bossy, nagging mum, dad, grandparent or carer. It also takes you out of the taxi service role of taking your kids to classes. You can do it together and both stay fit, flexible and healthy.

Lincoln was asked why he enjoyed doing yoga with mommy. He said, “it’s fun.” And you can’t argue with that.

Big Dog Little Dog Yoga for children (aged 4-11) and their parents/carers will start Sunday 27 April in the dance studio at Roundwood Park School (AL5 3AE). It will run term-time on Sunday mornings from 10.45-11.30 and costs £8.00 a class (per parent/child couple). For more information, visit April’s website (it’s a work in progress) or email her directly to book.

Photos thanks to Carli Spokes.

Read an interview with April about yoga and her teaching.

April Nunes Tucker yoga Harpenden
Lincoln provides balance.


April Nunes Tucker yoga Harpenden
Down dogs


April Nunes Tucker yoga Harpenden
And we can’t leave Grace out…