Mummy and baby yoga

Most people think of yoga as something you do in a studio, with a group of people wearing Lululemon outfits, listening to zen-like music and calmly following a teacher’s instructions. But with a sense of humour and a bit of imagination, it is easy for mums to incorporate your baby into your own yoga practice, wherever you are (and whatever you are wearing!)

Today I took Samaira to the park for a yoga session that we could both enjoy together. Here are some of the poses we did. Thanks to Justine Slapp for the fabulous photos. Check out her work at


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The Twelve Truths of Motherhood

The truths of motherhood are a closely guarded secret, that even the closest of my mummy friends did not care to share before it was too late. So here they are girls…in all their ugly, naked, glory….

1) You will experience a level of tiredness that you never thought was possible. Who knew that you actually CAN survive on 4 hours of broken sleep each night?

2) In the first few weeks you will cry. A lot. Often for no reason and at the most inconvenient of times. Blame it on the hormones and lack of sleep…and if you are breastfeeding, keep the tissues handy for a bit longer.

3) You will become obsessed with poo. Colour, consistency, frequency, smell, volume… Poo will become a frequent and recurring topic of your conversations.

4) You will make mistakes. No amount of reading can prepare you for this experience. You need to learn on-the-job, and often you will learn the hard way.

5) You don’t need all the stuff they sell in the baby stores. The secret to getting your baby to sleep all night does not lie in a pretty cot sheet set. Besides, internet shopping will soon become your new best friend.

6) You will leave the house wearing your trackies, no make up and your husband’s jumper covered in milk/vomit/food. And not care who sees you. Some days it is just not possible to take a shower.

7) Previously a high flying, multi-tasking executive, you will suddenly start to dither over even the smallest decision. Choosing which outfit to put your baby in today becomes a 10 minute task.

8) Your priorities will change. Who cares about going out for a night on the town when you can play peekaboo with your baby instead. Seriously.

9) Your relationship with your husband/partner will change. There is a third person in the equation now, and they are usually the most vocal of the trio.

10) Your body will continually change, even after the birth, and perhaps never be the same again. Fact. Forget about the glossy images of yummy mummies. You will definitely get at least one of the following: stretch marks, a cesarean scar, hair that falls out and thins, weight gain, a saggy tummy, and a collection of different sized bras…now isn’t that something to look forward to?

11) Both the amount of washing and the size of the bag you carry are inversely proportional to the size of the baby. Who knew that a little person could need SO much stuff?

12) You can kiss goodbye to spontaneity. It will take at least 10 minutes from the time you think “Let’s go!” to when you actually reverse down the driveway. And sometimes even leaving the house at all feels like a major achievement.

BUT…in return you will experience LOVE like you never have before. Every day, you will look with wonder at the little life that you made, and your heart will melt. Every smile, cuddle, and ‘first’ will fill you with utter bliss.

You will suddenly feel empathy for all the other mums out there who are doing the hardest – yet most rewarding – job in the world. Maybe the mother of that tantrum-throwing toddler in the supermarket is not such a bad mum after all. And you will realise (sometimes too late) what your own parents did for you.

That old adage “this too will pass” was never more true. Babies grow up so fast and while you can’t wait for them to reach the next milestone, don’t wish away your time. So amid all the tears, tiredness and dirty nappies, take a moment to enjoy all the love, smiles and joy that your little person has brought you. If the truth hasn’t scared you too much 🙂

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Tiny teachers

You dress them, feed them and ultimately, give them the education, values and skills they need for adulthood. But it’s not a one-way street. If you can see through the haze of sleep deprivation, somewhere between the witching hour and the peacefully sleeping baby there are some valuable life lessons to be learnt. Although I didn’t realise it when I signed up for a baby, my tiny teacher has helped to make me a better human being. How?

  • Patience . Your baby is crying and the third little old lady in Coles has just confidently told you that he must be hungry, despite your assurance that you just fed him half an hour ago. Take a deep breath, smile and dig deep into that reserve of patience which is essential for motherhood. If it wasn’t one of your virtues before baby, patience will get you a long way in life, or at least save you a few grey hairs.
  • Trusting your intuition. Never before has being a mother been so confusing. You are told that if you let baby cry for longer than a minute she will be emotionally scarred for life, but if you don’t let her cry she won’t be able to sleep through the night until she is 18. There is contradictory information about everything and research to back up every school of thought. After a while, you will stop reading the books and listen to your heart and your baby. The answer to almost everything really does lie inside you when you trust yourself enough to listen.
  • The power of now. Pre-baby you would have laughed at yourself for describing a successful day as doing two loads of laundry AND making the dinner. But with a baby, it is all about enjoying the journey instead of ticking off a long To Do list. So if you enjoy spending half an hour every day blowing bubbles with your baby to make him laugh, that is a good investment of your time. And it is undoubtedly more fulfilling than listening to the same old office politics anyway. Look at your baby’s perfect little fingers and toes, see the way his face lights up when you walk in the room and his delight when he manages to shake his rattle. You made this little miracle so take time to enjoy every moment of your time together – and apply this to everything you do in life.
  • Connection to others. Having a baby in tow opens up a whole new way to connect with other people. It starts when you are visibly pregnant – suddenly everyone, everywhere, wants to talk to you. And most of the time it is surprisingly pleasant to be able to connect so easily to complete strangers. You also develop empathy for other parents. Like that poor mum with the screaming kid at the checkout. One day, sooner than you are ready for, you will be the one with toddler throwing a tantrum! You also get a whole new appreciation of just how much your own parents did for you. With any luck, these insights can help you to form deeper, more meaningful relationships.
  • Unconditional love. You accidentally cut your baby’s finger when trimming her nails. There are tears of pain and you feel like you’ve just won the Worst Mother of the Year award. But then…a beautiful smile spreads across her face as she looks deep into your eyes. It never crosses her mind to be angry with you or hold a grudge.  Likewise, you have never known love so strong and deep. There is not a nappy too dirty or a feed that takes too long – you would do anything for this precious little bundle. Now try applying this feeling to your partner, your neighbour or your boss – ok, that could be stretching it too far but you get the idea…the world would be a better place if we could love like a baby.
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In studios all around the world, yogis bring their hands together at their heart centre in Namaste gesture. Literally translated, Namaste means “I bow to you”. But have you ever
thought about the deeper significance?

When we make the Namaste gesture, we are saying: “The divine in me recognises the divine in you and acknowledges that we are the same.” Namaste allows the teacher and student to connect energetically in a symbol of mutual gratitude and respect.

According to the Vedas, our individual souls are connected with the greater universal
consciousness. So no matter how separate or alone we might feel, each one of us is actually
a vital part of the universe. Contained within you is the divine life force that pervades the

Focusing on the similarities rather than the differences, putting the greater whole above
ourselves, and realising that we all contribute to the condition of this planet are the first
steps in uniting with the universal consciousness.

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Is yoga enough?

On the second Sunday in August, Bondi plays host to the finish line for the annual City2Surf fun run. This is the world’s largest run, with over 60,000 people taking part.

As the runners cram in some last minute training, us yogis may start to wonder….is yoga alone enough to keep us fit? The answer of course is that it depends on your fitness goals and your yoga practice. If your fitness goal is to have the energy to get through your day and feel good, then practising the primary series four or five times per week is probably enough. The primary series is a great all round workout – think about your increased heart rate during the sun salutations and the muscle strength required for the standing poses. Coupled with a pranayama practice for cardio respiratory fitness, this should be enough for most people.

Of course, if you are training for a run, yoga is not a substitute form of training. But for those of you game enough to take on the City2Surf, yoga is a good complementary practice, helping you to not only prepare, but also to recover more quickly from the run. Many of the poses in the primary series target specific muscles like the hamstrings and calves. The result? Your muscles, ligaments and tendons rebound faster so there’s less chance of injury, less soreness, and speedier recovery. The poses also simultaneously strengthen muscles in the core and spine, helping to iron out any postural imbalances and therefore enabling you to run more efficiently.

Whether or not you choose to combine your yoga practice with other types of exercise, a regular practice is key to staying fit and healthy.

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Lord Shiva – the first yogi

This month we celebrate Shivaratri. In the Hindu tradition this is the most auspicious day dedicated to Lord Shiva the Destroyer, who was the first yogi. Shiva’s wife, Parvati, was his first student to whom he taught the science of creation, and Ganesh, the elephant god whose beautiful statue sits at the front of our shala, is Shiva and Parvati’s son.

Once, when Lord Shiva was teaching yoga to Parvati near the bank of a river, Parvati noticed that a fish was listening. She was happy that the fish had a keen interest in yogic philosophy and prayed to Shiva to transform the fish into a human being. The fish was reborn as a man called Matsyendranath, after whom the pose Matsyendrasana was named.

The Shivaratri celebration, which takes place this year on 3 March, is dedicated to prayers and contemplation, traditionally involving fasting, pujas (rituals) and staying awake throughout the night. It is believed that the planetary positions align in such a way on Shivratri night that it naturally creates an upsurge of energy in the human system.

So as you enjoy your practice this month, spare a thought for Lord Shiva – without whom we would not be able to benefit from the wonderful teachings of yoga.

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Prepare to practice

Most of us are familiar with Shri K Pattabhi Jois’ famous saying: “Practice and all is coming”. But how often do you consider what you do BEFORE you practice? With love in the air this month, what better time to show yourself the respect you deserve by observing some basic principles in preparation for your practice.

While yoga is most popularly manifested as a physical practice, it actually offers us a complete and holistic way of approaching life, including an ethical code of conduct called the Yamas and Niyamas, which is outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Sauca, meaning purity or cleanliness, is one of the Niyamas which is important to consider before you practice. At a practical level, this means things like keeping your mat clean, taking a shower and brushing your teeth. The asana and pranayama practice then works to achieve internal purity by removing toxins and oxygenating the blood. This purification also works on a mental level – read more about Guruji’s teachings on The Six Poisons in this month’s “What is Ashtanga yoga” section.

Eating healthily plays an important role in creating internal purity. But your practice is affected not only by what you eat, but also WHEN you eat. Try not to eat anything for at least two hours beforehand, allowing your body ample time to digest the food. This is one of the reasons why a morning practice is so good – because you have not eaten anything since dinner the previous day.

Finally, please remember to observe ‘Ladies Holidays’ and take rest for the first three days of menstruation. This was a specific instruction from Guruji and one which we endorse here at Jois Yoga. Our yoga practice is intended to increase the upward flow of energy, or prana. However, during menstruation, the directional flow of energy is downward, or apana. So from an energetic standpoint, it is a time to allow the body to do what it must in expanding the apana, and wait til the body has finished its work to begin again to increase prana via asana practice. When you re-commence your practice, it is advisable to refrain from doing any inversions until your cycle comes to an end. You should also make a conscious effort not to engage your bandhas during the days of your cycle.

Most importantly, listen to your body as you will intuitively know what is right for you.

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