When Sesam was three weeks old, I signed myself up for some postnatal yoga classes at Purna Yoga Helsinki.
Spring sunshine streaming in through the studio window…
The six-week course, which met once a week for an hour and a half, just finished up this past Tuesday. I can recommend it as a gentle way to start developing your pelvic floor muscles and to build up core strength after birth. Benefits also include stretching out strained body-parts (shoulders, back, neck…take your pick) from ongoing baby-handling, not to mention breathing and relaxing into the yogic spirit of love and gratitude for your baby. And amid those intense moments of stress, exhaustion and frustration, it’s crucially helpful to practice breath awareness and stock up on feel-good moments. One last goodie about joining a class like this is the social outlet and interaction aspect. It’s a nice way to meet new mums, as well as their adorable little jelly beans to boot.
We were never more than six (+ babies) in the class. Plenty of space for mums and babies alike!
So, during my adventures as a new yogini mum, I learned a few things. Guess who multitasks more than a mum? While a circus juggler balancing on a unicycle along a tight rope would be a close second, I was actually thinking that the one who can claim first place is, you guessed it, a postnatal yoga teacher. Here’s five reasons why:
1. A postnatal yoga teacher gives yoga asana instructions. Think body coordination meets spatial awareness. Often in reverse, mirror image. Presented on a silver platter of clear-but-not-too-detailed and warmly-encouraging-but-not-too-sugary-sweet-or-overly-bright imperatives. Enough said. 2. While providing clear “but-not-too-detailed” instructions on the yoga poses, a postnatal yoga teacher must also cue how to use and set-up a large, varied assortment of props. These include rectangular blocks of different heights, a sacral block (a thin wedge of wood you place under your tailbone), egg-shaped, roll-y ‘blocks’, straps, chairs and special straps that latch onto a wall and allow you to dangle away from aforementioned wall. This last one is worth the fussy set-up..it feels great to dangle!
Below: Mums enjoy some inversion time while a little yogi chills out.
Above: As an Ashtangi, the use of props is new to me. Must say, it felt quite good to get some aid at this still tender postpartum stage. (In back, mums sit out to feed as necessary).
3.In addition to these aforementioned tasks, our conscientious teacher will also take a fussy, restless baby for a walk in her arms (and stopping to calm those squeaking on the floor), soothing them so a much-appreciative mother can focus on doing her bit of yoga. Good move! 🙂
Below: Our babies would join in the fun sometimes and we would all go walk-about with babe in arms…
4. It can be surprising (and unsettling) how much noise a little baby makes, not to mention six at a time. Let’s see, we have the cutesy gurgles, squeaks and coos; a wide range of raspy cries and shrieks, which generally start out as a protest of dissatisfaction and gain in volume and intensity to signify outright, indignant revolt at a current condition (more milk! carry me! psych-you-thought-I-was-sleeping!). Then we have the involuntary noises which accompany physical processes: accelerated breath rate as the food source comes into view; gulps, spluttering coughs and sharp sudden intakes of air after drinking too much milk too quickly; squirts, burps, sloshing tummies and squishy baby farting. Not to mention the more exotic noises that are unique to your baby. Mine makes these unusual animal-like noises on the inhalation. In his first week, it sounded a bit like a dove cooing, only higher pitched, more dainty and precious. Now that he’s woken up a bit more, he sounds something like a shuddering squirrel-chicken creature, or something of the sort! 🙂
With this mini-assembly of spontaneously erupting audible factories, I would argue that a postnatal yoga teacher’s ability to create and maintain a serene vibe of effortless yogic tranquility, in the midst of all these innocuous interruptions, rivals that of an orchestra conductor. Naturally, the scale is much smaller for our valiant yoga teacher than for a bigwig New York Philharmonic conductor. Nevertheless, in terms of type of challenge faced – walking the fine line between harmony and chaos – and the level of multitasking skills needed, it seems to me they’re just about head to head.
Nicola, and assistant, guide us in the final relaxation moments.
5. Actually, that’s all I’ve got. Four reasons. And I am okay with this shift in expectations. Because in between feeding and carrying my son around as I go about my day, the unrelenting reality of motherhood is slowly setting in. The novelty is wearing off, and yet the 24/7 time commitment of this lifestyle hasn’t eased up. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted this. I was ready for it. I don’t have to go at it completely on my own. There are still plenty of moments in my day when my baby takes my breath away (in the good way)…but, on the real though? This whole motherhood, parenting gig? It’s hardcore! Which makes me feel like normal, day-to-day householder people are all heroes. You know, the ones going about life as best and honestly as they can, playing the hand they got dealt with.
Biological instinct is one hell of a strong impulse.That, plus collective amnesia.
What do you think about any of the above topics, dear readers? Any multitasking mums or multitasking yoga teachers, or, better yet, multitasking yoga teacher-mums who care to share any tips? Any absolutely, positively, super- helpful postnatal yoga poses that we should know about?
Until next time, stay blessed and inhale-exhale! Om!Sesam strikes a pose too while overlooking to see if mum has got it right!