1.10.11 Monday **11:15a** - We welcome back Janna Barkin for Mom & Baby Yoga! Please bring your own mat, towel and water bottle.
Written by Megan Numair
As a new mom several years ago, my earliest postpartum days were filled with a constant stream of family and friends – flowers, gifts, warm meals, and arms eager to hold my little bundle. But as the weeks passed and sleep deprivation set in, my world became small. My days became a blur of nursing, dozing, shuffling around the house in slippers, and before long, I felt myself on the verge of what felt like a mental breakdown. Hormone fluctuations, new responsibility, and utter exhaustion all played their part in the erosion of my emotional state – I was well aware of the common causes and symptoms of postpartum depression; what I hadn’t anticipated was the overwhelming sense of loneliness.
In some cultures, new moms are enveloped in support – from the priceless wisdom offered by local matriarchs to ritualistic bathing and pampering. By contrast, most modern American new moms are sent home after a hospital birth, left to fend for themselves in suburban seclusion. Often with little or no family nearby, sparse community, few close neighbors, and no tangible maternal role models, women are frequently spending their first vulnerable postpartum months in relative isolation.
Community is an integral part of our human experience – we are not meant to exist in isolation. This is especially true for new moms. If you have ever had a regular asana practice, you are no doubt familiar with the power that communities of practice provide. There arises a distinct prana, or life force, from the energy of the collective. Likewise, a yoga studio full of new moms and their infants can host a vibrant alchemy.
In addition to supporting the body’s postpartum recovery, Mom and Baby Yoga is an ideal opportunity to find comfort and confidence in this new rhythm of life. The practice of yoga offers opportunities to observe what arises from within – to glimpse how our minds and bodies respond to challenge, discomfort, fear, or feelings of inadequacy – and asana practice can be regarded as a microcosm of our experience in the world at large. For the new mom, learning to balance her own needs with baby’s demands during her practice time, in the safety of the yoga studio, often helps establish the confidence needed to effectively do the same balancing act off the mat.
Many new moms experience a heightened sense of anxiety; a particularly fussy baby can set off alarms for a mom who worries about others’ reactions, and may trigger the desire for her to bolt. Yoga teaches us to stay. By embracing the yogic principles of compassion and patience, new moms can feel the freedom to explore the boundaries of their expectations, fears, and the many uncertainties that accompany new motherhood. Many women grieve the sudden absence of time to oneself – Mom and Baby yoga reminds her to pause and be still in even the briefest of moments, to be present with baby, and to breathe. Some new moms don’t feel ‘in their bodies’ after giving birth. Because the body opens to accommodate the birthing process, a postpartum asana practice can help reel herself back in – physically and energetically.
Yoga instructor, Janna Barkin, certified childbirth educator and mother, brings15 years of pre and postnatal expertise to the studio. From this foundation, she facilitates not only the asana practice, but also community-building and seamless integration of the many issues new moms face. Janna will hold babies, walk around the studio, and model ways of being in the pose with baby – offering several modifications – depending on whether baby is lying on the mat, nursing, or actively alert and engaged.
Janna explains: “My intention is to foster an environment that is mutually beneficial for mom and baby. It is a place where new moms can come together with their babies to nourish and strengthen themselves as they move through postnatal time and beyond. Through the yoga practice the new mom can connect deeper with her self, her breath, her baby, and her community.”
Janna not only guides the asana, but reminiscent of a doula – she supports, educates, encourages, connects, and integrates all the pieces – in true yoga spirit. And where there is union, there is harmony.
One student remarks: “Mama and Baby yoga is a beautiful break from the day, where I can feel comfortable with women who completely understand what I'm dealing with. The physicality of the yoga Janna instructs targets exactly what my body needs after birth… and Liam loves being in a room with other babies!”
Most Mom and Baby yoga classes are open to beginners, as well as those who have had an established practice pre-pregnancy and/or during pregnancy. Janna leads a weekly “Baby and Me” workshop series that begins monthly at YogaWorks Larkspur Landing. Drop in is also available. For more information, go to: www.jannabarkinyoga.googlepages.com or email Janna directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.