“The more we do our yoga, our yoga, our yoga, the more we do our yoga the healthier we’ll be. We’re bendy and stretchy and peaceful and happy. The more we do our yoga, the healthier we’ll be.” I sing this song regularly in my Yoga Babies classes, but the more I teach and the more I practice the more I realize just how amazing yoga truly is.
When I first came to yoga during University I was attracted mainly by the physical aspect. I had danced throughout my childhood and found the flowing vinyasa style yoga gave me that same happiness I had felt whilst dancing. I loved finding the connection to my body again, loved moving and stretching with a rhythm all my own. Surprisingly though I also came to love the mental aspects of my yoga class. By bringing my awareness to my breath and my natural rhythms through the class I was able to tune out some of the stresses of University life. In savasana at the end of each class I could actually manage to quieten my mind for a few minutes, when normally I was constantly thinking about everything that I needed to do, everything I needed to remember. My head was rarely quiet, except for those few minutes at the end of my yoga practice. Once I started practicing yoga I felt stronger, fitter, more flexible, but most importantly I felt more at peace with myself.
I continued going to yoga classes weekly until my first daughter arrived in 2011, by this point yoga was a part of my life and I was keen to get back on the mat. After the one local mummy and baby yoga class was cancelled I found Tara Lee’s DVD, Yoga for You and Your Baby and started to explore the wonders of baby yoga. I had thought doing yoga with my baby might be a gentle way to reconnect with my body, start to regain strength and stability, find some balance. What I actually found once again was so much more. Yoga with your baby is the most amazing bonding experience. It is time without distractions, without expectations, where the only thing that matters is enjoying the time with your baby. Whenever we got to that time in the afternoon when we were both exhausted, but it was not yet time for bath and bed, I would put on the DVD and it would take us both from stressed and grumpy to giggling, happy and relaxed. I did start to feel fitter and stronger again, but more importantly I accepted where my body was then and there, and appreciated the changes and the little person who had made those changes. My daughter became flexible, stronger, more coordinated but more importantly she felt safe and secure.
I trained with Birthlight in 2013 to teach baby yoga, and then continued my training to include toddler and preschooler yoga, and then children’s and family yoga through Rainbow Kids Yoga in 2014. During my training we talked about the many benefits of yoga for all the different ages. There are so many physical benefits, it would encompass a whole other post. Baby yoga is fantastic for helping the digestive system, and encourages brain development. Toddler yoga improves balance and helps develop fine and gross motor skills. Children’s yoga promotes flexibility and body awareness. But yoga is about so much more.
When we practice yoga together, especially in classes with our children and with our families, we are building communities. We find ways to connect with each other through touch, through play, through songs and movement. In my classes I get some amazing opportunities. I watch new mothers develop confidence as they start to realize that they have all the tools that they need to keep their baby happy and healthy. I see parents with toddlers who are testing boundaries reconnect with one another as they cuddle, laugh and play. I see groups of children working together, smiling together, bonding as a group. I see families share their thoughts and dreams, see them lie together and relax. I am privileged to be able to see the special smiles, the eye contact, the little touches, the hand holding, the hugs and kisses, the whispered words. So yes, most of my little yogis can touch their toes, they can even touch their toes to their nose, (so can many of my yoga parents!) but that’s not the most amazing thing. Yoga is helping them to feel secure, to feel safe and loved. Yoga is building a community for new parents where they can share their experiences with others in similar situations. Yoga is giving families tools to have fun together and to connect with one another. And that is truly amazing.