Saturday, 9 February 2013

Tara Lee's Baby Yoga

Let me get one thing straight. I’m not a yoga person - never have been, never will be. I make concrete look flexible. I kid you not when I say I can’t even do child’s pose. I look like a giant, wobbly 'S', quivering under the effort to get my bottom anywhere near my heels. (One instructor took it upon herself to sit on my back to get my bottom to lower. It didn't work; my thighs and stomach stubbornly refused to magically disappear...) During pregnancy, I flitted from class to class trying to find one where I would fit in – and by ‘fit in’ I was looking for a class of plus-sized ladies who cannot do and do not like yoga. 

I didn’t find it.

Why, you might ask, was I committed to finding a class when I don’t like yoga? A valid question. Well, I like the idea of yoga. All that breathing and oneness with your body, Mother Earth and quasi spirituality. What's not to like? Plus, everyone said it’s the thing to do in pregnancy.  Forgo the epidural and just do hip circles. It’ll make labour a breeze. Oh yes. Labour. A breeze. I tell you, its difficult to do hip circles when your legs are locked into stirrups in an emergency ventouse delivery, and doctors - for some reason - don't like it when you try.

Any road up. We've gathered I don’t like yoga. I can’t do yoga. So what better first class to take baby Cosmo to that Baby Yoga at The Life Centre in Notting Hill?

Photo stolen from Tara's wesbite
While I still can't claim to be a bonafide yoga convert, there are several things that keep me coming back to Tara's class. In no particular order:

1. The Vibe - Having done pregnancy yoga, I'm accustomed to being the only person in the class who looks like the back end of a bus and Tara's class is no exception. Its Notting Hill after all; everyone has a flat stomach and back in their pre-pregnancy skinny jeans. But the difference is, this class has a welcoming vibe (unlike some I could mention... cough, cough, Primrose Hill, cough...). As well as overlooking the fact I still look six months pregnant, no one in Tara's class seems to care that my hair hasn't been washed for a week or that I am attempting to pass off vomit-stained pjs as yoga pants.

2. Tara Herself - She's beautiful. I could sit and watch her all day if she hadn't taken out an injunction against me. Plus, she has a vibe that all yoga teachers should have: soulful, kind and zen-like; a calming anchor for a room of mothers tearing their hair out with screaming babies.

3. Music - Google Anni B. Sweet's 'Take on Me'. It's now one of mine and Cosmo's songs.

4. Massage - Get this: at the end of the class, if there's time to spare, Tara and her assistant go round the room asking if yogies would like a shoulder or foot massage. Yes please, yes I would. 

5. Cosmo Time - While the first half of the class is dedicated to normal yoga the rest is 'Baby Yoga' which involves swinging, stretching, singing and dancing with your baby. I can't say Cosmo is totally convinced (except the 'toes to nose' bit which he finds hilarious) but I totally love it.

But what I love best about Tara's class is that nobody really cares if you don't do the yoga. The exercises are almost manageable for an incompetent like myself but if you feel like sitting out (which I frequently do) you can just hold you baby and watch. One of Tara's wonderful assistants might flitter over and offer to hold your crying baby while you strike a pose but I always turn them down, playing up the role of obsessive mother rather than the lazy arse that I am. And, like all classes for babies, nobody cares if your baby cries. Because everyone's baby cries. No dirty looks, no stress, no embarrassment. Just lots of sympathy and lots of opportunities to make new friends. It's an incompetent mother's dream. 

So, at the end of the class, I might not have done much yoga but I come out feeling all the better for a good stretch and a better, more grounded person. A better mother even. And that in itself is worth an awful lot more than the £15 PAYG fee.
Note on the practicalities:
A small downside is a lack of disabled or roomy toilets. However, the class is so friendly no one minds minding your babe while you nip to the loo. Classes can get crowded, so arrive in good time.

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