We are just so thrilled to be bringing back parent and baby yoga to Yoga on the Lane. From Wednesday April 17th the lovely Chloe George will be teaching a new double: Postnatal Yoga 10.45am-11.45am and then a new Pregnancy Class at 12.30pm (to go with our ongoing pregnancy yoga at 6pm on Fridays). Why is she the perfect woman to do it? One, she’s a brilliant yoga teacher. And, two, she’s thought as much about what it means to be a young mother as insightfully as anyone we know. These are her words:
“It’s tempting to put things into boxes in our lives: things, feelings, people. When I was pregnant and in early motherhood I was keen to find women like me to befriend, maybe ones with nice clothes or shoes or a good sense of humour or who I thought I could talk to about a book or a band or a film I liked. In yoga and at NCT classes I looked out for them, imagining us hanging out with our new babies and talking about interesting things.
Although I did go on to make real friends that I had things in common with beyond just giving birth in the same month, this time of my life was a lesson in knowing that sharing characteristics with people is not the only thing that matters. That everything I assumed about them on first sight was usually wrong.
There was the woman I locked eyes with in the hospital waiting room as I left my 20 week scan, those moments which carry ecstasy and anxiety and which pass between you and a stranger in a rush of pure comprehension. The woman next to me in yoga who shared similar hopes and fears. The kind stranger who went to lengths to get me the phone number of the community midwives who changed everything about my birth. The commuter who eyeballed me when my new baby cried on the train, and I was sure she was annoyed and then she came over and smiled and said “I had a little one like that, too”. The older lady who nearly got run over in flagging down a bus for me and my buggy.
It stopped mattering whether anyone was stylish or had nice hair or liked PJ Harvey or Margaret Atwood or Portlandia. It mattered that people were kind. It mattered that they knew a little of what you were going through. It mattered that they could hold your coffee for a minute while you grappled with a sling or while away a few hours in the afternoon.
In pre and postnatal yoga it’s the conversations you have before, during and after that are often just as useful or meaningful as the yoga itself. The more I’ve taught yoga for women in these stages of life (something which often feels more like facilitating the coming together of a little community than just teaching physical movement or breath work), the more I’ve observed these moments. As a teacher it’s wonderful to step back and see the yoga doing its work, see the community doing its work.
It’s not all easy or perfect, like any community – especially at this potentially vulnerable time, when everyone has an opinion on our pregnancy or mothering, or people are difficult or different to us or can say things that rattle us. But this is life, and this is exactly where yoga can steady us, can help us to look directly at whatever we’re feeling with courage. It can help us explore the heart and edges of our emotions and know that thoughts are weather that passes. How can we be steady inside whatever storm rages around us? This is a great gift for motherhood.
And it helps to know that there are others doing this alongside us, finding some space, feeling lighter or stronger. Maybe they have great shoes and hair or maybe they don’t and maybe none of it matters. Maybe in a few months you meet for coffee, or are added to a what’s app group, and maybe not and they’re just a nice face you know from your yoga studio where you gathered, as mothers always have. People say that we have to make our own village. So let’s start here. “