‘Never work with children and animals’. That’s the advice first given by American comedian, actor, juggler and writer W.C Fields and repeated many times over the years by frustrated actors, teachers, politicians and photographers. Children and animals are unpredictable. You can’t trust them to do what you say. They cause chaos in an instant. But boy, are they adorable and funny and heartwarming when it all goes right!
Jo Hutton at Happy Yoga Newcastle loves working with yoga babies. She runs regular pregnancy yoga courses and enjoys seeing the mums coming back with their babies. For Jo, it feels like a miracle every single time, to witness that growing bump become a beautiful baby. To be able to offer these mums and babies this special time together is a real privilege. Before they arrive, Jo prepares the space thoughtfully. Each mat and set of equipment is carefully laid out. The space is uncluttered, the lights dimmed, the calming music plays quietly in the background. The twinkling lights create a magical feel.
The space is ready. Jo is ready. Come yoga babies – all is prepared!
The yoga babies arrive. There’s Leon and Remy, Juniper and Delilah. They take their place on the mat, exploring the mat, eating the mat! Their socks are removed. That’s another thing to eat right there! The mums take the opportunity to catch up with one another. They’re happy to be here away from the to do lists and pressures of everyday life. For Jess, getting to spend some one to one time with baby no.2, Juniper, is precious – ‘This is the time where I am reminded that I am the right mother for my baby and my baby is the right baby for me!’ It’s important to come back to that realisation. In appreciating this time away from everything alone with her first baby, Courtney realises how important it is to carve out time for just her and Delilah. This is the space and the time for that. These mums have all come with that intention, because physically travelling to a different place with someone else to direct you to spend time on self-care is the only way it will ever happen with so many other demands and distractions in the life of a new mum! What takes place in the class is actually very simple. These mums could practise this yoga any time, any where. Of course, the reality is that they don’t because of everything else that is going on and that is why they are here!
Jo plans the class as she plans every class, but she holds very loosely to that plan. She adapts what she does to fit with what the babies are doing and how the babies are feeling. At ten months, Remy is crawling and has no intention of staying on his mat. He’s got his eye on Jo’s panda, the baby that she uses to demonstrate what to do. Jo is unfazed. She quickly abandons the set plan and goes with the flow. The mums don’t feel pressured to make their babies do anything they don’t to do. If Leon wants a feed, he will have a feed. If Delilah resists lying down, then she doesn’t have to lie down.
The class includes gentle asana for the mums. It’s a wonderful opportunity for a new mum to focus on her own body for a moment, to feel it move and stretch. Jo knows how important this is – ‘Practising yoga with your baby is a great way to take stock of this big change in your life. New mums are so busy with so many emotions and spending time in the present with your baby as your baby is can be so restorative. It’s a time to come back to your body and work through that pressure to look a certain way and to find what is right for you and your body right now. My role is to help these incredible women come home to the body that they are in.’
Jo adapts a sun salutation to be a kneeling pose, keeping mum close to baby, and as she moves into the forward bend, she tickles gently down the whole length of the baby’s body. These yoga babies love this connection with their mums. There are squeals of delight around the room at the anticipation of mum’s smiling face and fluttering fingers connecting and making contact. It’s all so simple and yet so powerful. Katie finds the emphasis on post natal yoga helpful. She came to Jo’s pregnancy yoga class and now brings Remy as they both enjoy ‘the chilled vibes and nice relaxed yoga practice’.
In this last session of the four week course, Magdalena has gained a real insight into how practising yoga with a baby is possible. More importantly than that, both she and yoga baby Leon have found it fun – ‘I love that this was for both of us.’ Courtney describes how moving and stretching makes her feel better in herself. Finding moments of calm as she focuses on her breathing is something that she will also take away with her.
As for these yoga babies, they’re having the time of their lives. Their giggling is infectious. They are getting one to one time with the most important person in their world, who is clapping and singing and smiling at them. They’re learning that time away from everything else is so very important, that moving and stretching and breathing is life-giving and feels great.
Babies grow up so fast, and these classes offer you a beautiful opportunity to experience a unique moment in your baby’s development, without any other distractions. Happy Yoga Newcastle
If you’d like to find out more about all Jo’s classes, including the courses for pregnancy yoga and yoga babies, then visit http://happyyoganewcastle.com/
Read more: yogamatters.com