Monday, September 30, 2013

The "mommy & me" yoga class - a good postpartum exercise plan

As of two Fridays ago, my yoga class started back up again for the fall. It's a "mommy & me" class. My friend Don has been teaching this class for years and she's great at it. She knows what the moms need as far as intensity of poses, and also how to keep the kids (ages 0-5) engaged. I started taking mommy and me yoga when our oldest son was only three months old. He's five now and in kindergarten full time these days. Last year, I took both boys to mommy and me yoga, this year, I'm back to just taking one. Class is from 12:30 to 1:15pm so it happens while the older one is in school. This is a very different kind of yoga class. It's noisy, the lights are all the way up so it's bright, and there are fairly frequent breaks where the mommies have to stop and attend to their child's needs. Frequent breaks mean that the sequences are shorter than they would be in a regular class just so that there's still enough time to keep both sides even.

Ideally, you'd have a cooperative baby who lets you hold him on your thigh while in warrior, and doesn't resist when you do the baby yoga exercises. Reality paints a different picture. The reality is that it's a challenge to hold your balance in warrior with a squirming baby on your thigh. Reality is that your baby is trying to kick his legs free of your grasp so he can crawl away and get back to playing and exploring. And snacking. Yes, in mommy and me yoga, the mommies are allowed to bring toys and munchies for the kiddos. My little one has his own yoga mat cut a little smaller than my own full sized one; he inherited it from his big bro. I'll set out a couple toys and a little container of snack, and a sippy cup of water for him. Does he sit on his mat next to me? Briefly. When I want him on my lap, he is all about that little blue mat. As soon as it's time for him to sit there so that I can do some poses, he decides he'd much rather used the end of mine.

Me (trying to do a down dog): Little Buddy, where's Momma supposed to put her feet?
Baby (eating a handful of cereal): Ghee blah!

Photo Credit: Yoga On York
Mostly, I try to work around him as he crawls under and around me. I also try to work around the crumbs - the big downside of snacks during yoga. Actually, I do my best to try to keep the crumbs -on- my mat and/or on his because then I can just take them outside and shake them out on the sidewalk. That way, Don doesn't have to sweep and the evening yoga people don't step on cereal bits.

***Side note: Sorry evening yoga people if I missed any! Sincerely, The Zumbamommy***

This past Friday while trying to avoid stepping on a cereal-O, I stepped on something wet. Huh. The sippy cup of water is three feet away so that would be drool on my mat. Sigh. That comes with the territory I suppose. Note to self: wash mat before next Friday.

***Side note: Hey evening yoga people! It could be worse than cereal! Sincerely, The Zumbamommy***

When I first started mommy and me yoga with our older son, it was with the idea of getting back in shape after having had a baby. Isn't that what every new mom wants? To lose the baby weight and that funny little abdominal pooch? I'm here to tell you ladies, those of you who have not yet discovered it for yourselves, that it doesn't happen quickly or easily (sorry). This is especially true if you were fairly sedentary through your pregnancy. Which I was with my first pregnancy, though not with my second. I did Zumba and yoga through my second pregnancy, as much and as often as I could while staying healthy and safe (SAFE - see your physician). So I know the difference between an active pregnancy and a sedentary one. I also know the difference between the recoveries and this includes getting back into shape. After giving birth the second time, I was back at Zumba in six weeks. Yoga was on hiatus by then since the mommy and me class doesn't run June through August. Because I'd done Zumba before I was pregnant, I was in shape and had the endurance for it and was therefore able to continue my regular class through my pregnancy. Likewise, after I'd delivered, I was able to get back to Zumba almost right away because I was still in shape for it, having done it through my pregnancy.

After my first pregnancy, it was wise to start off nice and easy with the exercise. The mommy and me class has a slow pace and is not especially intense. Great for new moms looking to get back in shape and have some bonding time with their babies. Perfect for moms ( me...) who spent most of their pregnancy sitting around. It took a long long time for me to get back in shape after our first son. I am one of those moms who cannot lose weight while nursing; many mothers can, I'm just not one of them. The one attempt to do so caused me to lose milk supply which was not good; that's part of what took so long. Almost as soon as I weaned him at 14 months, the extra weight started melting off with the slightest amount of activity. By the time he was 18 months, I'd discovered Zumba, and by the time he was two, I weighed ten pounds less than when I'd become pregnant with him in the first place. Pretty good, even if I do say so myself.

Doing mommy and me yoga with the older one was some wonderful quality time. We both got so much out of it. I'm hoping to have a similar experience with the younger one and I think we're on the right track. I like to use my yoga class as a counterbalance for my Zumba. It works my muscle groups in a different way than Zumba does. Yoga is pretty low-key and it helps keep me from burning myself out from all the Zumba I do. Those are two very good reasons for why I'm willing to put up with a mat full of crumbs and drool.

Best advice: Post-baby, don't expect results overnight. Or even over six months! It's a rare woman who can walk out of the hospital after giving birth in anything other than maternity clothes. Here's an old saying that about sums it up, "It took nine months to gain the weight, give yourself at least that long to loose it."

Second best advice: Here are some nifty tips for taking care of your skin post-pregnancy and/or post-weight loss.

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