By Kerry Law
During those early days with a newborn, the earth-shattering tiredness usually puts paid to any notion of doing anything more strenuous than unfolding a buggy. But once your post-birth strength begins to return, there’s one type of exercise that’s the perfect antidote to postnatal aches, pains and stresses.
Parent and baby yoga, unheard of a generation ago, is now booming. Whether you’re a yoga aficionado or not, it’s a fantastic, multipurpose way to spend an hour or so: stretch out those aches and pains, start to tone and strengthen post-pregnancy muscles, relax and destress, plus learn gentle exercises for a healthier and more contented baby that (may) sleep better. Win-win!
I’ve recently tried two parent and baby yoga classes in East London. (NB: it’s recommended that you don’t try yoga until at least six weeks after birth, or eight weeks if a birth by C-section.)
Yoga Place, Bethnal Green: Supposedly one of London’s oldest dedicated yoga studios, Yoga Place offers a range of pre- and postnatal classes and workshops, alongside regular hatha, ashtanga and vinyasa yoga sessions. The Yoga Place studio is a calm and inviting sanctuary in contrast to the bustle below on the slightly grotty street. Staff are friendly and welcoming with yogi tea, biscuits and water on hand in the cosy waiting area and after classes.
Parent and Baby Yoga classes take place in its light and airy studio space with around 10 people (plus babies) per session. The atmosphere is friendly and inclusive—like most baby yoga classes, you get the sense that this is a totally safe and non-judgemental space. Parents are free to feed or change a baby, and join in with the exercise as much as they need or are able to—there’s no gym-style competition here.
Each class is different, with changing emphasis on yoga for baby or for parent depending on everyone’s needs (a lot of us in my class needed extra focus on alleviating back pain!). Gentle asanas plus quite an energetic sun salutation sequence meant I was walking taller and feeling brighter for the rest of the day. Baby is never ignored either, with lots of funny face-pulling, rocking and (so I’m told from previous classes) a bit of singing. We even managed some quiet(ish) relaxation at the end!
Parent and Baby Yoga at Yoga Place, Wednesdays 10:30am, £10 per class (drop-in or pre-book), www.yogaplace.co.uk
Frame, Shoreditch: This hipster version of a gym also runs Mum and Baby Yoga as part of its MumHood programme of exercise and health advice (visit their microsite online for more about their ethos, classes, courses, online resources and shop at www.moveyourframe.com/pages/welcome-to-mumhood).
I tried out their Tuesday morning postnatal class and joined seven other women and babies for an hour of downward dogs and half lotuses. Like Yoga Place, the class offers a friendly space for mothers as well as their little ones, who can sleep, cry, be fed or changed alongside the yoga. However, this class did feel a lot more focused on the grown-ups, with no silly faces or nursery rhymes for the babies—this is mum’s time! The emphasis on stretching out lower back and neck aches and strengthening core muscles was welcome.
On leaving, a new class of mothers and babies were entering the room to begin something more aerobic, where you can get a bit sweatier and babies are still welcome to join mum.
If one of Frame’s more energetic fitness classes or personal training sessions for mothers aren’t your thing, then you can always relax in their café area with a green juice or superfood poke bowl.
Mum & Baby Yoga at Frame (Shoreditch), Tuesdays 10am, £13 per class (pre-book online), www.moveyourframe.com