Pregnancy yoga is your time during the week to relax and remember that you are pregnant. Most of us are working full-time, particularly during our first pregnancy and we carry on as normal. Do you stop often enough and remember that your body is doing an amazing job; working 24/7 growing your baby? It’s really lovely to give your amazing body some recovery time and your mind some well-deserved head space.
Most of the mums who come to my classes are first time mums but the class also has a good mix of second, third and fourth time mums who can share their experiences with us. The class really is open to everybody. Some of the ladies already have a regular yoga practice but most have never done yoga before. It’s such a lovely place to meet other new mums and to share your experiences.
The classes are based on traditional hatha yoga postures which means that we hold them, we focus on our breath and we work on building or maintaining your strength and stamina throughout your pregnancy. All of the postures are adapted to make sure that they are safe for both you and your baby. I also have experience in dealing with lots of pregnancy related issues such as heartburn, pelvic girdle pain, rib pain and lower back pain so please let me know when booking in if any of these issues affect you so that I can offer adapted postures best suited to you and your baby. We really want the classes to help make you more comfortable during your pregnancy. Please don’t feel that you can’t come along to a class if you have any of these symptoms. You are always welcome and can work at your own level depending on how you feel that day. You are also always welcome to come and just lie down to rest!
The class lasts for about an hour and a quarter. We spend the first 15 minutes of each class practising breathing exercises. We practice these each week so that you build up a tool kit of breathing techniques that help you to relax and also help you during the birth of your baby. Your breath is amazingly powerful but also gentle. It’s lovely to work with your breath; to feel it energising and releasing your body and to allow your baby to feel it travelling around them.
After the breathing exercises, we then do around 45 minutes of yoga postures. These help you to build and maintain your strength, to increase your flexibility, improve your balance and also to breath away those pregnancy related aches and pains. You will feel the benefit of the postures. I do make you work as we can’t build that strength in any other way.
And then we come to most mums' favourite part of the class. The part at the end when you get to completely relax. I turn the lights off, you grab blankets, blocks, cushions; anything you need to make yourself comfortable and to completely relax. During this time we listen to music, I go through a guided relaxation with you and gently talk through positive affirmations. It a gorgeous and serene part of the class. You quieten your mind and take yourself to your own place where you can drift and sleep. Sleeping and snoring are both actively encouraged!
We share a biscuit and conversation at the end of each class. This is where we chat about everything and nothing, overshare and ask all those silly questions that are never really that silly. You will learn a lot!
It’s a nurturing space for you and your baby but you will have to work a little bit as well!
“Mandy is very kind, caring and down to earth and has a great sense of humour. It means that all the mums to be are also very relaxed in the classes. As a first time mum I learn something new every time I go (far more than any of the midwives have told me). It's been a bit of a lifeline to be honest. I would highly recommend it.” Elise
Sally talks about her experience in my Pregnancy Yoga class
Stepping out of the house to a class in the first few days or weeks after your baby has been born isn't always the easiest of tasks. Just the thought of everything that you need to pack, everything that you need to prepare; bottles, milk, bibs, change of clothes, huge bag, is enough to put you off. Can you get the car seat in the car? Can you clip it to the push chair? If you manage to clip it in, can you un-clip it when you get to the other end? And all that is just for your baby. You also need your bag, your water, your bits and bobs, your wallet. I remember nipping to Mothercare at The Fort Shopping Centre when Grace was a baby. I got there and realised I didn't have my wallet with me so I had to turn around and come all the way back home.
Please don't worry about any of those things when you come along to your first class. It really doesn't matter whether you pitch up just you, your baby and a smile on your face. It can be one of those, "Yep, I'm sorted" smiles or one of those, "Oh, my god I actually don't quite know how I managed to make it here this morning" kind of smiles. Every single mum in the class, including myself, will have been there before you.
Baby massage is a really gentle way to ease yourself into coming out of the house with your little one for the first time and meeting other mums. It's a very relaxed class. It is one that focuses specifically on your baby rather than you but it does give you the opportunity to switch off from the outside world for 45 minutes. Just spend some time watching, observing and touching your baby. It's a really lovely way to strengthen that extra special bond that's already developed between the two of you.
In terms of technical stuff, touch helps to generate a hormone called oxytocin in our system. Massage and touch generates oxytocin in our babies and in turn we receive oxytocin by giving that touch. Oxytocin is sometimes called the happy hormone. So, it's something that we look to generate during pregnancy and also childbirth. It's that warm, fuzzy, happy feeling. You know the one you sometimes get when you've eaten loads and loads of chocolate just before you then feel guilty about having eaten loads and loads of chocolate!
By sitting down focussing on your baby, taking some time and just forgetting about everything else, it gives you the opportunity to spend some very precious time together. Build that oxytocin. Build trust. Babies learn through trust and touch. They'll watch your facial expressions. They'll watch the smiles, the raising of your eyebrows, the animation in your face. And as they get bigger, they'll start to copy those things. And there's nothing more amazing than your baby smiling at you for the very first time. Those first few weeks when you feel you've received very little back are really tough. Encouraging their smiles is ever so important. One big smile and everything is forgotten. The sleepless nights. The fact that they woke you to feed every hour is forgotten, when your baby turns and smiles at you for the first time.
In baby massage we focus on different parts of the body each week. Sometimes we'll focus on just one part such as legs or tummies. Often I try to combine different aspects of the body. By the end of the five-week course you will be able to massage all different parts of your baby's body. So that means arms, legs, tummies, head and back. If any babies in the class have specific issues such as tightness around the hips or they're suffering from wind or constipation, then I'm more than happy to take guidance from you mums and I'll tailor the class that particular week to each individual baby.
It's also a great way to meet other new mums. We're all going through the same thing. Most of us look like we're holding it together but that doesn't necessarily mean that we are. My baby massage classes are a really safe, friendly space for you and your baby to come to, whether it's your first class with your first baby or this is your fifth block of baby massage with your fifth baby. It really doesn't matter. Everyone is very, very welcome.
The class is suitable for babies from birth but I always say, do give yourself at least two or three weeks to get used to being a mum. Allow yourself some time to establish some kind of "routine" so you feel that you're not too anxious about leaving the house for the first time. Having said that, as I mentioned earlier, pitch up you and your baby, nothing else and between us we'll manage to sort everything. Please don't worry if you've forgotten anything. Also, don't worry if you're a little bit late. There is never a late to my classes. As long as you come before they finish so you feel that you get some benefit, I really, really don't mind when you arrive.
And don't forget, there's always time afterwards for a cup of tea and a biscuit. As well as teaching the practicalities of massage which I understand is the primary reason you're there, I’m also keen to provide the opportunity for you to meet other mums and to create a support network. A space where you feel that you can blossom into motherhood.
I'd love to see you there.
"I started this class as my baby was suffering with wind and I was advised to try a baby massage....the class was lovely and gave me lots of tips for baby's wind and loads more! We do it now every day as part of our bed time routine! Mandy was lovely and the session was friendly and relaxed. Tea and a chat after was also lovely! I highly recommend this course and I am very glad I went along." Alison
Mum and Baby Yoga is really yoga for us mums. It’s a warm, welcoming space to return to your yoga practice to start something new with your baby.
The focus of the class is on postures for us with a small five to ten-minute session for the babies included, most weeks. I do sometimes miss out this part of the class if all the babies are settled and us mums are practising in our very own yoga zones. Sometimes it's nice for us to have time that's undisturbed by our babies. Love them as we do, it is lovely to be able to find yourself again in the hectic world of your new baby! I'm always there keeping an eye on the little ones just to make sure that they're safe, warm and contented.
The classes are designed to tone your key body areas postnatally. These are your tummy, your pelvic floor and your lower back. Many of the postures we practise are classic yoga postures that are adapted to be safe postnatally. I also focus specifically on your breath and gently "closing" your body after having had your beautiful baby.
The idea behind my classes is to help your amazing body return to where it was pre-baby in a non-impact and a safe way. That means that we can then get you back to higher impact exercise, such as running and aerobics, with a much stronger body. This makes it safer for you and safer for your baby.
You'll also pick up some simple practises that you can use at home. And it's a really great way to pick up some ideas that you can use to exercise with your babies whilst they're with you. I do involve the little ones in the postures as much as possible, as this helps to keep them entertained. Often, they're very happy just watching us mummies as we move. I'm also on-hand to entertain them myself. I have a great range of funny faces and toys. I try to keep the babies as settled as much possible so that you can get some proper yoga done.
You will feel the yoga that we practise; the stretches and the toning but in a good and a safe way. Your legs may burn a little as we build your strength back up but everyone works to their own level. It really doesn’t matter if you have never practised yoga before or are a fully-fledged yogini.
At the end of the class, I always make time to ensure that you can just have some quiet space where you can stretch, relax, close your eyes, breath and just switch off from the world.
The most important thing for me is that you enjoy the class and you feel the benefit of having some time to focus on how you are feeling and how your body feels. You are really important in the new baby mix. I absolutely know that you will care for your gorgeous new baby. I'd like you to have some time to care for you too.
"Very welcoming and relaxed, the most peaceful part of my week! Baby lead and so changing/feeding at any time was fine. I noticed an improvement in flexibility and toning quickly. Lots of advice regarding pelvic floor exercises and taking care of your back. I really enjoyed the poetry and affirmations at the end of class." Sally