Several weeks ago, our Mama & Shanti Baby Infant class had a guest. Lisette Torres of Lisette Torres Photography graced us with her presence and photography skills. She arrived on a day when a new mom came in disheartened by her pediatrician's judgement about her feeding choices and needed some solid mommy support and advice. I was so glad that Lisette was there to witness what our class is really like and she captured the personality and love without ever causing anyone to feel uncomfortable or watched. She was just present, like a stenographer recording data. As a fellow mom, I think everyone felt our class maintained itself as a safe space for sharing and that mom, as well as others, left the class feeling empowered. This particular class reminded me that every mom has the superpower to dig deep and be the best mom that they can be.
Parenting is an odd vocation. You don’t need any experience or training to become one, yet it is the most difficult, 24-7 volunteer job you’ll ever do. When we talk about the heroes in the world, we rarely consider the superhero known as: Mom.
Some moms will choose to breastfeed their baby. Others will choose formula. Both moms will be judged and yelled at for that and many other parenting choices. It’s confusing to a new mom to know what’s right. Mothers need other mothers. Mothers need praise. Mothers need to know what a great job they are doing, because they usually are. Finding a safe sharing place and group of other moms is vital to a mother’s sanity and success.
Mama & Shanti Baby Yoga is one place that provides the sanctuary many moms are looking for. We begin every class with each mom introducing herself and her baby. Not every parent and child class even acknowledges the parent has a name. Babies’ needs come first, so feeding, however they choose, changing or walking around is all permitting within the class setting. Babies cry. Babies get hungry. Babies poop. It’s all okay. Right away, this sets the tone that we are all in this together. This is a community of mothers, babies and care. Often, something comes up that a mom needs to get off her chest or ask about. “Should my four month old be waking to eat at night?” “When do I have to drop the crib mattress?” It’s such a support system!
This is not a Heidi Klum model-body rehabilitation class. This is about finding your balance, your breath and feeling stronger as a person and a mother. Most of the exercises can be done with the baby in her arms. Babies that need a little more touch can get it. Babies get exercise too and they work up an appetite. Words can’t describe the soulful smiles from mother and baby as they sing, coo and snuggle with their babies in class. It’s loving and all that I believe yoga to be.
Yoga means union. I have always felt that the union of parent and baby deserves celebration through the physical activity of yoga. The bonus is the many long-term mom friendships have blossomed out of Mama & Shanti Baby Yoga classes.
Each class ends on a positive note of snuggling with baby, gratitude and affirmations to remind each mom that she is, indeed, a Super Mom. Some moms have come up to me at the end of class with tears, saying they didn’t expect to cry, but the affirmations touched them. I am a firm believer in recognizing value and complimenting a job well done. The moms in class earn my respect and praise. I truly believe in the phrase, “It takes a village.” And the community or union that develops in this environment can become the village that every mom needs to succeed. If you read this all the way through, you too are a wonderful parent.