Baby Yoga - what's it all about?

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Baby Yoga - what's it all about?

Baby Yoga - what's it all about?
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Just to set the scene, I'm partway through my Baby Yoga Diploma & have just taught my sixth class. I invited a newly-qualified BWY Teacher (who did baby yoga with Francoise 10 years ago) to watchdog my class and she asked lots of questions which are making me reflect on what I'm doing but also to wonder if other people's classes are very different. I know it's the role of the tutor to answer some of these but I thought I'd post this on the Forum & see if Melanie & some of my coursemates wanted to answer on here as it would be really interesting to get some other views. The biggest issues were:

Is there enough 'exercise'? (I'd added in quite a lot of post-natal yoga after being inspired by my CPD weekend & had 8 different 'exercises' for Mums with & without their babies).
Do parents get enough individual attention? (I taught the class as a whol almost all of the time but went round to each Mum when teaching inversions & flying and trying to watch what everyone was doing & offer help if they needed it at other times).
Should I be telling parents that one purpose of the classes is to improve their interaction with their babies? (My introductory leaflet mentions bonding with babies as one benefi of baby yoga but I don't stress that one of the purposes is this interaction. When my watchdog asked the Mums what they liked about the class, they all said the social contact and only one mentioned the opportunity to do something together with her baby. None of them mentioned getting ideas for things to do at home - although I get feedback that they do - or learning to interact. But I wouldn't expect people to say this. My questions to myself: Is enjoying the class good enough? Would people value it more if they were paying full price rather than a small amount to cover my costs? Would people take more notice of what's being taught if they didn't all know me already as a Mum?)
What if parents don't "do as they are told"? (Apparently, one Mum massaged her baby's tummy anti-clockwise rather than clockwise and one didn't really do the hip sequence or sit in a comfortable position. I have a concern about knocking people's confidence by pointing out they're doing something wrong so I try to repeat things such as "Remember to go clockwise around the tummy as this helps your baby's digestion" and then maybe "Jo, have you tried going the other way" although I admit I'm less likely to say this as it singles out the Mum. If someone chooses not to do a move, I'll try to see if they need the instructions repeating or whether they just want to sit & cuddle. Should I be trying more to encourage non-participants?)
What's the right class size? (My watchdog asked what class size would be ideal and I thought 10 - 12 Mums, both for financial reasons and so that there are enough people participating while other babies sleep & feed. I think she thought I was more motivated by the money but classes I have seen have been 12 - 15 Mums and I wondered what other people think - do we offer a quality experience in classes of 10? 12? 15?)
Apologies for all the questions but I hope other teachers can share their thoughts!

Victoria

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Sat, Jul 21 2007 3:01 PM In reply to
melanieanne

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It is very useful to have watchdogs from other schools of training, but you also need to be aware that they may have their own agenda and, even though they may have some experience of Birthlight as a class participant, they do not necessarily share the Birthlight ethos. This can be confusing when they offer feedback. The flip side of this different perspective is that it makes you question what you are doing, rather than just assuming it is all OK - this is a good process, and can (eventually) actually help you feel more convinced about whatever it is you are doing once you have come through the reflective stage and gained a deeper insight into your practice. I hope this will be the case for you.

As an additional view on the comments you outlined, I will give you my thoughts:

"Exercises" - or asana are only one of the eight limbs of yoga. A class that includes 8 postures with and without babies is more than enough for a postnatal mum and baby session. What is your objective for the session? Is it a tums, bums and thighs class - or are you aiming for something more subtle? Without seeing the learning objectives for your session I cannot tell, but I suspect that you set out to enable the mums and babies to do a great deal more than have an "exercise" session together? The ambience, the pauses and the breathing and relaxation are crucial factors in a baby yoga class and should not be lost at the expense of packing in too many active exercises". I am really uneasy about using that word in this context- was it yours or did it come from the watchdog? Yoga is so much more, and I fear this may be lost with an overly strong focus on this purely physical aspect. Remember the yogic principle of BALANCE - I would be more concerned to see if your class gave a balanced experience for the mothers and babies.

Individual attention: From what you describe about going round to mums during certain activities, it sounds as if you gave individual help when needed. It is possible to teach as a whole class while observing the individuals within the group, and you can then address particular issues according to what you have noticed when the time is appropriate. Sometimes, particularly if it is a safety issue, this should of course be immediately. If it is something else, perhaps you should approach mum quietly during the break or at the start or end of a session. I think this also applies to your question about what to do if someone ignores your instructions.

As for reasons to attend the classes - it is good that your information literature mentions the numerous benefits that Birthlight Baby yoga offers, and as a general part of your teaching, it is useful to add information about some benefits of a particular practice as the class goes along. However, mums will come for many different reasons - and these may change from week to week. It does not surprise me that not many mums specifically stated " I come to bond with my child". This can be quite a sensitive issue. Most mothers asked by a stranger - "why are you here today", are likely to offer a fairly general response. To specifically state something along the lines of "I am here to improve my relationship with my baby", may seem to suggest that without the class they are not relating well to their child and not many mothers would want to give this impression. Any kind of discussion, survey or questionnnaire is open to flaws and as a piece of research would need to have other methods built in to gather information on other deeper or more subtle levels, or try to ellicit answers in a number of different ways. So I do not think you need to feel too despondant that your mothers did not offer the perfect text book response to your watchdog's questions. Watch them carefully throughout your course, and you will see if there is a change in the way that they relate to their babies. Listen carefully to what they share during the chat time and again, you will discover which yoga practices have influenced the way that they are parenting outside the class.

How do parents value your class? I think as a trainee only charging a minimal cost this is a tricky one for you to see. Most mums will be delighted to have a bargain as you train - and you do know this group too so you will have a special relationship with them. Value is not just a financial question. I remember the mothers who came to my classes when Lowri was a baby - and many of them have become very good friends of mine. I did not know them beforehand, as is the case for you, but I did find that being a mother with my baby in class gave me a special bond with the group at that time. It is not the same now I am "just the teacher", and my baby is grown up and at school. It changes the way the other mums perceive you. By involving this group of mothers in your training journey you are building a special relationship with them and I am sure they will feel that they have played a part in nurturing you as a developing Baby Yoga professional - again this is unlikely to be an explicit thing and will probably only become clear both to them and you retrospectively. Just as they are learning from you - you are learning from them - and everyone is learning from the babies. This is the Birthlight way. I am not sure if your question about taking notice of what is taught comes from a concern that they are not following your instructions. What is it that makes you feel this way? I'd like to know more before I feel I can comment on this part of your query.

Class size: it depends a bit on your teaching experience. Generally we suggest an ideal group for a case study is between 4-8. This allows you to focus on the individuals and teach a group. The larger the number, the more you can manage the mums who don't come every week - otherwise a small group of 3 might disappear with a weekly bout of sleeplessness or a nasty cold. Those who have less teaching experience should start with the smaller numbers. If I saw you teaching a group of 10 - 12 and you managed the group well, showing awareness of everyone's needs; there was enough space and a good realtionship evident for all to feel secure and relaxed I would be happy with that. As you know from visiting my classes, my sessions are sometimes quite large now, but that is something that has come with experience. I started as a trainee with 8 mums., ( but already had previous teaching experience of managing clases in schools of 30+). You need to be sensitive to how the dynamics in the group work. If you teach well you will be able to give everyone a good session with a successful relaxation, whether you have two or twelve in the room.

I hope this has helped for some of your questions and I think there must be others out there who can help some helpful comments. Good luck with your course work.

Melanie

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Sat, Jul 21 2007 3:11 PM In reply to
melanieanne

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Joined on Sat, Sep 9 2006
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Re: Baby Yoga - what's it all about?
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It is very useful to have watchdogs from other schools of training, but you also need to be aware that they may have their own agenda and, even though they may have some experience of Birthlight as a class participant, they do not necessarily share the Birthlight ethos. This can be confusing when they offer feedback. The flip side of this different perspective is that it makes you question what you are doing, rather than just assuming it is all OK - this is a good process, and can (eventually) actually help you feel more convinced about whatever it is you are doing once you have come through the reflective stage and gained a deeper insight into your practice. I hope this will be the case for you.

As an additional view on the comments you outlined, I will give you my thoughts:

"Exercises" - or asana are only one of the eight limbs of yoga. A class that includes 8 postures with and without babies is more than enough for a postnatal mum and baby session. What is your objective for the session? Is it a tums, bums and thighs class - or are you aiming for something more subtle? Without seeing the learning objectives for your session I cannot tell, but I suspect that you set out to enable the mums and babies to do a great deal more than have an "exercise" session together? The ambience, the pauses and the breathing and relaxation are crucial factors in a baby yoga class and should not be lost at the expense of packing in too many active exercises". I am really uneasy about using that word in this context- was it yours or did it come from the watchdog? Yoga is so much more, and I fear this may be lost with an overly strong focus on this purely physical aspect. Remember the yogic principle of BALANCE - I would be more concerned to see if your class gave a balanced experience for the mothers and babies.

Individual attention: From what you describe about going round to mums during certain activities, it sounds as if you gave individual help when needed. It is possible to teach as a whole class while observing the individuals within the group, and you can then address particular issues according to what you have noticed when the time is appropriate. Sometimes, particularly if it is a safety issue, this should of course be immediately. If it is something else, perhaps you should approach mum quietly during the break or at the start or end of a session. I think this also applies to your question about what to do if someone ignores your instructions.

As for reasons to attend the classes - it is good that your information literature mentions the numerous benefits that Birthlight Baby yoga offers, and as a general part of your teaching, it is useful to add information about some benefits of a particular practice as the class goes along. However, mums will come for many different reasons - and these may change from week to week. It does not surprise me that not many mums specifically stated " I come to bond with my child". This can be quite a sensitive issue. Most mothers asked by a stranger - "why are you here today", are likely to offer a fairly general response. To specifically state something along the lines of "I am here to improve my relationship with my baby", may seem to suggest that without the class they are not relating well to their child and not many mothers would want to give this impression. Any kind of discussion, survey or questionnnaire is open to flaws and as a piece of research would need to have other methods built in to gather information on other deeper or more subtle levels, or try to ellicit answers in a number of different ways. So I do not think you need to feel too despondant that your mothers did not offer the perfect text book response to your watchdog's questions. Watch them carefully throughout your course, and you will see if there is a change in the way that they relate to their babies. Listen carefully to what they share during the chat time and again, you will discover which yoga practices have influenced the way that they are parenting outside the class.

How do parents value your class? I think as a trainee only charging a minimal cost this is a tricky one for you to see. Most mums will be delighted to have a bargain as you train - and you do know this group too so you will have a special relationship with them. Value is not just a financial question. I remember the mothers who came to my classes when Lowri was a baby - and many of them have become very good friends of mine. I did not know them beforehand, as is the case for you, but I did find that being a mother with my baby in class gave me a special bond with the group at that time. It is not the same now I am "just the teacher", and my baby is grown up and at school. It changes the way the other mums perceive you. By involving this group of mothers in your training journey you are building a special relationship with them and I am sure they will feel that they have played a part in nurturing you as a developing Baby Yoga professional - again this is unlikely to be an explicit thing and will probably only become clear both to them and you retrospectively. Just as they are learning from you - you are learning from them - and everyone is learning from the babies. This is the Birthlight way. I am not sure if your question about taking notice of what is taught comes from a concern that they are not following your instructions. What is it that makes you feel this way? I'd like to know more before I feel I can comment on this part of your query.

Class size: it depends a bit on your teaching experience. Generally we suggest an ideal group for a case study is between 4-8. This allows you to focus on the individuals and teach a group. The larger the number, the more you can manage the mums who don't come every week - otherwise a small group of 3 might disappear with a weekly bout of sleeplessness or a nasty cold. Those who have less teaching experience should start with the smaller numbers. If I saw you teaching a group of 10 - 12 and you managed the group well, showing awareness of everyone's needs; there was enough space and a good realtionship evident for all to feel secure and relaxed I would be happy with that. As you know from visiting my classes, my sessions are sometimes quite large now, but that is something that has come with experience. I started as a trainee with 8 mums., ( but already had previous teaching experience of managing clases in schools of 30+). You need to be sensitive to how the dynamics in the group work. If you teach well you will be able to give everyone a good session with a successful relaxation, whether you have two or twelve in the room.

I hope this has helped for some of your questions and I think there must be others out there who can help some helpful comments. Good luck with your course work.

Melanie