photo courtesy of Suzi Baum
By Suzi Baum
I go to a yoga class with babies.
A college student tends a cluster of children in a room behind the yoga studio while mothers, fathers, people who I don’t know well enough to know if they have kids or not and it does not matter at all, here we are with students, elders, people of all shapes and abilities-all of us stop on our mats for an hour, stop all the else we are about, and center, together.
We are marbles off track.
We run the edge of the singing bowl that is this class, spinning around the rim until the centering pull of breath and asana brings us to the center, of the bowl, of our selves, of this moment.
There is often a shout or a cry at just the perfect moment. We chuckle. We breathe. We go on.
I did not always attend yoga classes with babies.
I started yoga in a center in Houston, an old house draped with white sheets everywhere. It was clean. I put my money in the basket and did whatever everyone else did for an hour.
Then I picked up the pace of my study. For years I took different classes.
Then, when I was carrying a baby in my own body, when I was becoming rounder and centered by this weight, I started studying a lineage of yoga that came through a woman.
It was a perfect place for me at the time.
I stayed with that practice for many years, through one baby, two miscarriages, and three levels of teacher training.
But my baby was never allowed to come to class.
So, it is with a new heart that I allow myself to enjoy this class, which is sometimes frequented by toddlers. Once, a small girl with a name of a tree, bent gently towards me on a bolster, just when I was not sure I could shed another layer of withholding. She, this lithe arboreal beast, shows me how to lay my chest on the earth. She tips her diapered bottom back, spreads her thickly clothed hips and reaches her chest towards ground, easy, her hands sliding along the grain of the wood floor, her fresh short new branches reaching away from her trunk.
She shows me.
Yesterday, in our last asana, there was a more urgent cry and the woman on the mat next to me leapt out of warrior, lifted from her core, her soft belly carried in a shirt that matched the sudden pink of her cheeks. She leapt soundlessly, lightly, toward the sound of her child. She knew.
We continued on.
Prepared for shavasana.
We lay our bodies down, breathing deeply.
And just at that moment, I heard the sound, above the rhythmic breathing of my colleagues on the mats; I heard the truest sound of surrender ever known. That pink shirted mother had tucked her babe to her breast. The cries subsided.
From that new quiet, there rose the sweet noise a baby makes when they are completely and entirely quenched, every need met, every need met. All is well in the world, this sound tells me, I am sated, I am safe, and I am fully equipped with all I need for this very moment. Enveloped in the flow between mother and child, this sound emanates from the baby, a heart sound, a sound of gratitude and fulfillment.
I lay there in shavasana.
I too, could make that sound, deeply sated by my practice, tended to by my teacher, fed by breath, by asana, by philosophy.
I go to a yoga class with babies.
Suzi Banks Baum is an artist, actress, writer, teacher, community organizer, and mom. She’s passionate about helping women find their creative voice and live focused, joy-filled lives. Freshly returned from Armenia where she led an art and writing workshop called New Illuminations, Suzi inspires hundreds of women every year to live their lives from the space of creative spirit and to value their contributions to the world and one another. You can find her work on TheMid, Literary Mama, MotherWriterMentor, Rebelle Society and her blog @suzibanksbaum.com.
On Being Human
Join Jen in Western Massachusetts at Kripalu
March 2 @ 7:30 pm – March 4 @ 11:00 am
For women and non-gender conforming humans.
Get ready to become more free as you tell the truth about who you are and listen fiercely to others doing the same. Get ready to create what it is you truly want for yourself. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Go beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.