Simone Gannon attempts the downward facing dog while baby Charlie searches for the nearest plug socket.
To say I was a little excited about attending a Mum & Baby yoga class with Charlie, my bouncing baby boy, would be an understatement. I had visions of us gazing into each other’s eyes, wearing matching yoga gear and swapping knowing smiles with all the other mums and babies as we reinforced our natural bond. At 9 months old Charlie is relatively active, so I thought it would be the perfect chance for him to have a little massage, do some gentle stretching and interact with other babies. After doing some searching online I decided on Flow Yoga Dubai, a studio run by Odona Farska, a mum of two small ones, who has over 13 years experience as a certified yoga instructor. When I first contacted her to enquire about the class, she explained that mum and baby yoga is actually one of the most popular sessions at her studio – mainly because of the great benefits involved for baby; reduced stress levels, relief from gas and colic and help with digestive problems, but also because of the great benefits for Mums, as it’s a great opportunity to relax mind and body outside of the often stressful, home environment and enjoy some one on one time with baby in super relaxed surroundings.
Opting for a morning class and instructed by Odona to bring nothing but ourselves, we set about making our way to Flow Yoga’s garden studio in Mirdif on a Tuesday morning. Just off 15th street and very easy to find, the studio is actually at Odona’s home; a very spacious, very private house, surrounded by lots of lush greenery with ample parking available outside. After introducing me to the other mums and babies, who were all of varying ages (the youngest being two months), Odona explained that the class usually takes place in the garden but as it was a little stuffy we would be using the indoor studio. We trundled upstairs to the cool open space, took off our shoes, got settled on the mats and placed the babies on the soft pillows provided. Initially shocked by his new surroundings and all the other fun sized people in attendance, Charlie lay very still on his pillow and took everything in for about oh, five minutes. We started off the session with baby massage, which Odona demonstrated on a baby doll; gentle circular motions over the belly, firm but gentle pulling of the legs, which resulted in major giggles from all involved, and calf and foot massage. Charlie seemed to particularly enjoy this but as soon as it was over he was off. The wallpaper was fascinating, the pillows were perfect for crawling on, and although I intermittently dragged him back to the mat for some gentle stretching and baby songs, all he wanted to do was shriek in excitement and crawl over to the other babies. Initially, as he was the only crawler present, I felt a little embarrassed but all worries were soon cast from my mind when I realised that the other mums didn’t take a blind bit of notice, and Odona would scoop him up every now and then while I carried out my own yoga moves. Naturally, he decided to make his return to the mat while I was in the middle of downward dog and chew on my flip flop.
Throughout the class - which lasted about an hour, the babies sporadically slept, ate and stretched while one baby, who shall remain nameless, attempted to stick his fingers in a plug socket. The atmosphere was so relaxed and supportive that everyone just did their own thing while Odona skillfully navigated around the babies and made sure they were safe while we performed our yoga moves. By the time the hour was up, most of the babies were totally blissed out from all the singing and stretching, except mine who was furiously chewing on one of the other babies toys. I enjoyed the class so much - as did Charlie who basically treated it like a playdate, that I am planning to go back again. It was such a lovely environment and because of Odona’s great way with the babies I actually managed to fit in a pretty decent yoga session.
For more information on mum and baby yoga, visit www.flowyogadubai.com