by Toni Nagy
After the phenomenon of growing a human inside my body, the awe of giving birth, the penetrating love of being a new mother, my mind was obviously most preoccupied with: how I was going to lose all the baby weight! But then I remembered that there were no paparazzi outside my house, I wasn’t going to be in ‘Iron Man 7’, and caring about my healthy baby was much more essential than a deflated stomach. Because baby bumps are the hottest new Hollywood trend, so is the conversation about post-baby bodies. Yet, despite the public expectation of women to have elastic bodies, as yogis, we know how not to believe the hype.
Although getting back to your pre-baby skinny jeans is not the goal, being physical and finding mental peace is still important for mommies. It is vital to find balance between prioritizing your very small demanding person with your own needs, because a tired, burnt out mommy is a cranky mommy. Remembering to do the things you love is being a good parent, though the challenge is finding the time.
As yogis we are blessed because all you need is a few feet of space for your mat when you are seeking to find your bliss. Well, you also need the energy to get there, but that is what Yerba Maté is for. After having my baby I realized that going to class was going to be more of an ordeal than I had anticipated, but practicing at home with my baby was an ideal compromise. I personally am a big fan of self-practice because it gives you the opportunity to do what feels right for your body and get into the zone of listening to your internal rhythms. But there is also online yoga [insert your fave site here] for those days where you need a little more guidance.
Of course practicing with your baby does not mean you are going to have a totally focused experience 100% of the time. You can never anticipate how your baby will behave, but you can use their temperamental attitudes as a mental exercise. When my daughter was an infant she would sometimes lie on the floor for 2-hours completely content: staring at the ceiling like she was on mushrooms watching a Led Zeppelin laser show. Other times she would be fussy and irritated and I would have to stop and attend to her bad trip every ten minutes. Of course the days when I was laziest and wouldn’t mind the distraction she was an angel, and the days I felt the peppiest she would interrupt my side crow with her wailing protests.
The frustration (and lesson) of practicing at home with your baby is the unpredictability. Sometimes it would irritate me to the point of slamming blocks against my face, other times I could maintain Zen. However, the convenience of not having to figure out child care and being able to work in some sort of practice any time I wanted was well worth the self-inflicted bruises. There was also this connection we were forming by practicing together even though she was only doing happy baby for the first 7 months. She would watch me go through my vinyasas and when I was feeling slothful, her gaze would support my energy. I felt like she was my guru teaching me the art of patience, the freedom of time, the strength of focus, and the harmony of exchange.
As she got older and started to crawl, walk, play on her own, we still continued this tradition. Now that she is almost two I put a mat out for her and she will intersperse playing with her blocks and doing a downward dog. There will be times when she harasses me during headstand by shoving her doll’s hair up my nose, crawls on my back during forward bends, and tries to sit on my face as I prepare for backbends. But we work it out and I can usually get an hour’s practice in with a semi-peaceful savasana – if you call someone trying to jump on your stomach peaceful. Being around a kid brings out the kid in you, and one thing that I think many of us need is celebrating the joy and playfulness of yoga. Yes, yoga should be taken seriously, but you don’t have to be so serious about it. Now I try to go to class once a week to have a more traditional experience, but yoga with my child is always more fun.
Toni Nagy writes for the blog tonibologna.com, an amazing blog about Toni Nagy and her baby. It was not easy for Toni to get the job writing for Toni, and rumor has it she slept her way to the top. Toni has written many text messages, and has been published by Huffington Post and Salon.com.
Share your own mommy and baby yoga experiences. Happy Mother’s Day!
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I will always treasure the memories of my daughters climbing over, under, and on top of me whilst I tried to practice. They would crawl under me when I went into down dog and giggle like crazies, anticipating me coming down to chaturanga on top of them!