Teaching a Mummy & Baby Yoga class is a joy for a yoga teacher, but more importantly for the mum and baby. It’s a wonderful activity for them to do together and a lovely opportunity for them to bond in a different environment. I set up the first ever class of this type in Switzerland and it’s become increasingly popular across the country.
The mums get to know other mums in their area which is especially nice if it’s their first child or they’re expats living in a country away from their family and home friends. It can be an especially difficult and lonely time for mothers who work and are on maternity leave, who often struggle with their change in identity, productivity and even boredom. Mummy & Baby Yoga classes are a great opportunity to socialize with other women in the same boat and do an activity for themselves, without having to pay for childcare. More often than not the mums in my classes would go for a coffee together afterwards and the babies became friends too! The babies are fascinated by one another and it’s beautiful to watch them develop more and more each week and start interacting together.
- The most important thing in setting up this class, is to make sure that the area and items you use in your class are safe. Make sure the space is clean and tidy as mums are much more aware of germs and dirt than they are with older children.
- The number of women you can have in your class depends on the amount of space you have. You need to pile up a few rugs and blankets in the middle of the room so you’re creating a nice soft island for the babies, and make sure that the top blanket is hypoallergenic. You’re going to need to put the top blanket in the washing machine after each class so bare that in mind.
- Then arrange the mats so that they’re coming off the blanket island like the rays of the sun, or a wonky star shape. The front of each mat will just touch the blanket island and mums will place their baby down on the blankets in front of their mat. Make sure you have at least 50cm in between each mat or either side of where each baby will lie.
- The room needs to be a nice warm temperature and it’s worth having some sausage cushion available if the mums want to make walls either side of the baby, in case they start rolling around.
- If possible provide some colorful safe toys, or some that make jingling sounds, however wiggling fingers, making silly faces and a few noises, is usually enough to keep the babies engaged.
- Have some hand sanitizer available and baby wipes although mums tend to carry everything possibly needed with them.
- In one corner of the room have a rug and some cushions arranged so that mums can breastfeed if necessary. However most mums will try to get that out of the way beforehand so the baby is more docile and relaxed.
- In another corner have another mat or rug covered with a plastic table cloth where they can change a nappy if necessary.
- Class duration can vary but I find that 60 minutes is the ideal.
- Mummy & Baby Yoga classes go on until the babies start crawling, usually 6-10 months old. From then on you may want to set up the mats differently, creating a safe space where the babies can crawl among their mum’s mat or perhaps have their own mat with some bolsters around it and some toys. These can be referred to as Mummy & Toddler Yoga.
WHAT TO EXPECT
- This is not your average yoga class where everyone is disciplined and the flow of the class is uninterrupted. A baby may suddenly need nappy changing, start crying and need attention, feeding or being picked up and walked around with. Create a relaxed, light hearted atmosphere where the mums don’t feel uncomfortable disrupting the class.
- Create a calming playlist and keep using it for the same class. Both the mums and the babies get used to the music signifying a time of peace and bonding, and very often they ask you for the playlist so they can play it for themselves, or to relax the baby, at home.
- Expect some noise and interaction between the mums and their babies.
- Expect your Savasana and class plan to not necessarily be stuck to and to have to adapt to what’s going on in the room. If for instance a baby starts crying in a particular pose, move on to another one ASAP!
HOW MUMS & BABIES CAN ENJOY THE CLASS TOGETHER
- In sitting poses the baby can be resting on the mums legs or held so that the baby can feel the mum’s deep breathing.
- During any exercises in planks or on all fours/table top position, the mum’s face can be directly above the baby (so not causing any neck strain, and she can be making silly faces or making noises while doing the movements. For an opposite leg and arm extension in this positions she can be wiggling her fingers above the babies face to keep it engaged and connected.
- In standing poses ie. warriors, lunges, forward bends, mums can be holding their baby while in the pose, as well as in standing balances. Make sure however that the mum has a stable foundation and is comfortable holding her baby in easier versions of any poses first.
- For seated forward folds the baby can be on or next to the mum’s legs, or on the thighs as they lift up into Bridge pose.
- In supine poses, or movements like leg raises, the baby can be lying on the mother’s chest. This is not viable for a supine twist.
- During Savasana the baby can be on the mum’s chest or even in between her legs. So that the mums can enjoy as much of a normal Savasana as possible, I have them lie down with their heads at the front of the mat close to their child. When the baby is on it’s belly it will often play with the mother’s hair and feel comforted by its familiar smell.
- You can also incorporate a few minutes massage and have some good quality oil available. After Savasana (so the mats don’t get oily hand prints on them) mums can spend some time mindfully massaging their own hands or feet and even give their baby a little foot massage.
- Remember that mums will still have the relaxin hormone in their body for up to 5 months after giving birth, so make sure that they stick to an 80% practice when it comes to any stretching.
- Encourage them to remember to use both sides of their body equally as much as possible, as most have a dominant side that they will always use to pick up the baby, carry it and do other activities on. Swapping over to the other side can save a lot of tension building up on one side of the body.
- The rule of thumb is that mums should wait 6 weeks to get back into exercise after a birth with no complications. Make sure that they are signed off by a doctor if in any doubt.
- Refrain from abdominal crunches or boat pose, instead work more on planks and other core engaging pose, especially with any mums that have diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal wall).
- Work on pelvic floor awareness and exercises in a variety of positions.
- Do different back, shoulder and neck stretching exercises especially for the lower back where the tension from picking up the baby usually accumulates.
- Do lower back and upper body strengthening exercises.
GETTING THE WORD OUT ABOUT YOUR CLASS
- Find a nice image and create a digital flyer with your class info that you can use to advertise your classes on your website and social media. Perhaps your local newspaper or forums would be happy to share your new class information too. Facebook is especially helpful because you can post your digital flyer on all the local mummy/baby/parenting pages, and advertise directly to women in your local area.
- Also create some attractive small flyers with your class info, perhaps including some bullet points of the benefits of Mummy & Baby Yoga. It’s better to not use a photo image on them as this will increase your printing costs.
- If you give pre-natal classes you’ve already got a good market to sell your Mummy & Baby Yoga classes too!
- If you’re a mum yourself then you may already have some good contacts that you can use to spread the word.
- If like me you’re not a mum, then you need to do some research into the local midwives, birthing classes, doulas, nurseries, social media groups etc
- Get in touch with them and explain your class. Hopefully they’ll be glad to hand out your flyers, pin them up on their notice boards or have them by their reception area. You can even buy perspex stands to slip a bunch of your flyers into so they’re presented nicely to passers by. Email all these people your digital flyer in case they’re happy to forward it to their clients or put it in their newsletter.
- If you already have some competition with other teachers offering the same type of class, it may help to offer the first class for FREE! It’s a word that grabs everyone’s attention and hopefully those that attend the free class will sign up for more.
- You can also market the classes to dads who would might be interested in giving them as a present for their wives.
- Besides this, positive word of mouth is your best source of advertising, as well as a good database of local clients who you can send your new class info too.
Feel free to leave a comment or let me know how it goes if you set up your own Mummy & Baby Yoga classes. For any question, please join and post your question on the Facebook group: Yoga Teachers Advice Forum and you will get advice from myself and over 130 yoga teachers worldwide.
Take care and breathe deep.