As soon as I discovered I pregnant, my first thought was, “Yay!” A few thoughts later: “I will finally get to go to mommy-baby yoga classes!!” I know, weird reaction, but I had been going to The Yoga Room for years, and knew they had yoga classes for little ones, which sounded like so much fun.
Fast forward to February 2010, when my daughter Leora was old enough to attend the class (they suggest the baby be 8 weeks old). We walked into the spacious yoga room where mats and blankets were laid out in a circle, and a collection of toys and books was in the middle. The only things I needed to bring were a little blanket and, of course, a diaper bag. The teacher, Jess, who is currently on maternity leave herself, was extremely welcoming. She reminded the mothers many times that anything goes in her class: nursing, feeding, sleeping, crying (mommies and babies), etc. She also told us to be kind to ourselves. If we managed to get one pose in, it was a good class. We often got through many more than one pose, but her comment was reassuring. Leora was a bit fussy during that first class, and I worried that my mommy-baby yoga dreams would be shattered, but the following weeks got better. I also found a great support system in the other mothers in the class.
The babies determine the class flow. Everyone introduces themselves and their babies, and briefly brings up any issues they might be having. Then the teacher takes requests for any areas people want to focus on. If the babies are content, the moms get more of yoga in, but if they’re restless, the focus shifts to them more quickly. Obviously 2 month olds aren’t doing downward-facing-dog or tree pose, but their mothers guide them through stretches and movements to aid in digestion, and to help improve their hand-eye coordination and motor skills. All of the movements are accompanied by songs.
When Leora reached 18 months, it was time to move to the toddler class. This class incorporates imaginative play and lots of movement to keep the babies engaged. They are encouraged to do some of the simpler yoga poses with a little assistance. Yoga for moms is pretty much over, but we get a good workout acting out a lot of the songs and running around the room pretending to be birds, airplanes, etc. Monet, who has taken over the class for Jess, is also wonderful with the kids, and sometimes her son joins us with her husband. Which reminds me, just because it has mommy in the title, dads, grandparents, and caregivers are also more than welcome.
The classes are held at both the Astoria and Long Island City locations of The Yoga Room. Individual classes are $25, and a 10 class card is $200 (good for a year) For more information, check out their website.