Mother-and-Baby Yoga: Woman-to-Woman Support and the Building of Community
Every Tuesday morning, the Novara Centre is host to a special gathering of women and their babies who come together to share a yoga practice and much more at their weekly mum & baby class. Passers-by may marvel at the beautiful babies, the cute outfits, the fancy travel systems and colourful slings, but what may not be apparent on the surface is the incredible physical and emotional work that these new mothers are doing in their bid to find their way through the challenges of the months that follow the intense experience physical and emotional experience of welcoming a child into their lives.
The importance of the postnatal period and the months beyond – up to a year after a mother gives birth – is seriously underestimated by our society. Whereas news of the birth of a healthy baby is inevitably greeted with joy and celebration, some women find that much of the initial support and contact from friends and family taper off at a time when their own euphoric birth hormone levels are declining and they are waking to a new reality of sleep deprivation, uncertainty, feeding challenges, bodily healing and recovery and, in some cases, unexpected isolation as partners return to work and friends return to their own busy lives.
For many mothers, connecting with other women in a supportive atmosphere of empathy and understanding represents the building of new community and the establishment of friendships that last through the years. At mum & baby yoga class, mothers have the opportunity to enjoy some gentle stretches, breath work and relaxation aimed at assisting postnatal physical recovery while spending quality time focusing on their babies during class, engaging in gentle baby massage, rhymes and relaxation, and, the highlight of class, having the chance to chat to other mothers and share experiences, sympathy and support over a cup of tea and a biscuit.
Mothers are amazing human beings and deserve to be minded and nurtured at this vulnerable time of change and new beginnings. It is hoped that the provision of mum & baby yoga classes and other such services go some small way to meeting their needs for physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment through yoga, connection and community.
– Lara Dunlea