May 24, 2012

Finding Your Community

Part of my original vision in creating the Prenatal Yoga Center was to offer a space that was more than just coming in for class, unrolling your mat, doing some asana, and leaving. I wanted to offer classes that engaged the students and opened a place for friendships to develop and flourish (I am beyond tickled that some of my first students are still friends 11 years later!). To help support the growth of community, we structure the beginning of every class with “circle time”, a time for the students to introduce themselves, say what week they are and if they are having any particular aches or pains. It is great when one student can offer a remedy for an ailment another is suffering through. We also have a weekly “Tuesday Tea Time” for those that want to pop in and chat informally with fellow mamas or mamas-to-be, and we also offer new moms support groups.

For years I have witnessed friendships emerge out of the common experience of pregnancy and postpartum, and deepen as the students returned week after week for class. However, I must admit, I did not fully understand the importance of finding a community of support until I was a pregnant mom myself.

Many of my friends already had kids, so I got lots of advice on what to and not to do, and because of my experience as a doula and prenatal yoga teacher, I had a pretty good idea about the ups and downs of pregnancy. But, those things cannot replace the bond and camaraderie of friendship! It was so nice to be able to meet and relate to a group of women that were experiencing so much of what I was at that same time. We talked about feeling the baby’s first movements, researched which stroller to buy, picked out baby names, moved from regular clothes to maternity wear, and shared frustrations about other people’s comments about how big our bellies were. These were things that my “mom friends” were no longer tuned into- “been there, done that” kind of thing! For a first time mom, it was great to be able to discover these new paths through pregnancy together.

Not long after giving birth, I realized how much I missed the moms from class. I was out on maternity leave and was feeling a little isolated from the rest of the world. I joined the New Mom’s Support Group at the studio and reunited with some of the old gang. I also met some new faces. I loved that most of the babies were just a few weeks apart; we really could relate to the issues (lack of sleep, how to calm a fussy baby…the list goes on!) that were very much in the forefront of our experience. The group lasted 8 weeks, but we kept it going for several weeks afterwards on a weekly basis. We met on our own accord at a local bar/grill that had a big back room with plenty of stroller space and enjoyed some late afternoon cocktails. As some of the moms started to go back to work, the group disbanded a bit. Luckily, a few of the girls live within walking distance to me.

It has been such a blessing to have a few “go to” friends. There have been days when I just need to get out of the house and take a walk with someone else that can understand the difficulty of entertaining a 10 month old for hours on a rainy day, or how to plan a day trip around nap schedules. I have also relied on my new “mom community” to fill me in about when to start using a sippy cup, or go from 3 naps a day to 2. While these things may sound trivial, and yes, in the scheme of life they are, but for a novice navigating the bumpy road of motherhood, these conversations feel invaluable.

I also need to mention the incredible women that gather week after week for postnatal yoga class. These women, more varied in the postpartum period, have come together to support one another through the physical practice of yoga. As a teacher and participant, I love to see the vitality and strength return as the women grow more confident in their role as a mother and regain physical and emotional strength.

This is just a glimpse into the community and support I have found as a new mother. I truly value and treasure these women. And while some of these relationships may never grow beyond our weekly yoga meeting or afternoon walks, their presence, input and acceptance is fulfilling and appreciated.

I would love to hear from our online community of mothers and moms-to-be what your community of support looks like and how these people are important to you.

Some of the postnatal yoga ladies...and Dalia!
Some of the postnatal yoga ladies...and Dalia!

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