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home schooled

December 14, 2005 by Naomi Galley

Jackson is crawling! His newest milestone concludes our mommy and baby yoga series at Mindful Body and Yoga Tree Valencia for pre-crawling babies. Because Jackson and I have been trading coughs for the past several months, we haven't been to yoga. We even missed our final class. Fortunately, Kari Marble also teaches a Parent and Baby/Toddler class at Sherith Israel, for ages 0 to 3-years-old. Jackson and I were both healthy and ready to begin this class, only to learn that it was on break for 4 weeks.

I decided to find an instructional video so we could have guided baby yoga in our living room. This proved to be no easy task. In search of any video with "mommy" and "baby yoga" in the title, I began calling the yoga studios in the area. Next, I moved on to book and electronic stores, to no avail. I did discover, however, that not everyone is familiar with yoga; one employee wondered if this was a new release, and another asked if I meant "yogurt." I was on the verge of giving up when I located one copy of "Baby and Toddler Yoga: Enhance your child's mental and physical development" by Dr. Francoise Barbira Freedman. Sold!

If we couldn't go to class, class would come to us. We unrolled our mat, took off our socks, and pressed play. My small yogi clapped his hands and wiggled back and forth to the cheerful music. Jackson immediately joined his new on-screen baby friends in deep babble conversation. He was beside himself with delight as we followed the class through their sequence of postures. Flying like an airplane, hanging upside-down, and swinging to the DVD evoked the same wild squeals from Jackson at home as in class at a studio. Like his big brother, my little bug-a-boo has a contagious enthusiasm for life. I am treasuring moments like this where Jackson joyfully discovers himself, through yoga.


December 12, 2005 by Naomi Galley

If you ask Cameron to show you his favorite pose, he slithers into cobra, takes a deep breath, and exhales with a lingering hiss. But tonight, he's my pet lava lizard, affectionately named Lava. Cameron asks me to tie his yoga mat to his back, and to take him to his first yoga class (as a lizard). Jackson is not his little brother lava lizard. For this game, he's just my baby, who is in his brother's way. Sorry Jackson.

As we enter the "studio," I become the yoga teacher. Cameron asks if Jackson can play in another room because he's messing up his mat. Ah, but this is a class about focusing in extreme conditions. Cameron likes this idea but only for a minute. So he decides to take matters into his own paws and relocates Jackson himself. Class resumes. Lava introduces himself and tells an elaborate story of how he actually has small volcanos on his back. They are his defense mechanism and will only activate them if he feels threatened. We will do our best to avoid an eruption.

We begin with child's pose followed by Downward Dog. Jackson returns and giggles, as he crawls towards his new tunnel, which is just his size. He stops directly beneath Lava, who says he can’t hold this pose forever and bounces up and down while flapping his little arms. I run to get the camera. Jackson is now trying to pull himself up using Lava for balance. I aim and focus. Both boys have toppled over and are laughing with delight. Another missed photo-op.

Cameron says that lizards make excellent triangles. Great, we'll do the triangle pose. Lava has suddenly morphed into Lightning, a lizard who can do postures, quick as lightening. Boom! He's a triangle! Okay, I guess proper alignment comes later.

I help Jackson stand on his wobbly legs and ask him if he wants to be a triangle, too. He begins to flop his head to the right, his body follows and for a brief second, he's a baby triangle!

Yoga class has apparently ended, and Cameron is a boy again, kicking his soccer ball around the house.

be present?

December 12, 2005 by Naomi Galley

If Jackson were an animal, he would be a bird. Vibrating his lips together and making a high-pitched hum, Jackson flaps his little arms up and down as he bounces on his bottom. I like to flap my mommy bird wings and join him in flight, and Jackson just stares at me.

Today we took Jane Austin's class at Yoga Tree Valencia. The studio, long and narrow with hardwood floors, offers great reverberation. My baby bird was clearly pleased with the acoustics as he proudly preformed his new song for everyone. I resisted the urge to chime in.

It is rare that I do much more in yoga class than nurse or play, so I seized the opportunity for a workout. As I breathed into sun salutations, my mind was far from clear. I had mixed emotions fighting for priority in my consciousness; I was happy that Jackson could sit alone on his blanket but sad that he didn't need me. Apparently I have a surplus of post-pregnancy hormones roaming freely in my body.

I stopped to rest in child's pose. With my face to the mat, my hands felt their way to Jackson. I playfully tickled his legs and belly while he continued to tweet. Before I knew it, he had turned around and grabbed a handful of my hair. He proceeded to pull until I could feel each hair ripping out at the root. I screamed silently as I removed the giant clump of hair from his little hand and put it in my diaper bag for later disposal.

Jackson's beautiful song abruptly ended in a loud scream. Was this the finale he had practiced? Or did he need me again? I scooped up my small bundle of joy, gave him kisses and cuddles, and told him we could practice yoga together. We were working on abs, and I could use him for a counter weight.

I lied on my back with Jackson sitting on my stomach. Holding him with one hand, I had my other hand behind my head as I was attempting to do at least one crunch. Jackson had another plan. His tiny hands and feet worked as a team to push my shirt up and pull it down at the same time. Each day brings him new strength, and today I believe he was capable of helping himself to milk. Did I dare to continue my crunches while he nursed? As quickly as the absurd thought crossed my mind, it vanished. I returned my vision of tight abs to the back burner and did what a mommy bird does best: I fed my baby.

eye-to-eye and in between

December 07, 2005 by Naomi Galley

My attempts of massage at home weren't going so well. Jackson would start whimpering when I reached for the lotion, and his cries would escalate to screams if I tried to rub it on his skin. So when teacher Kari Marble announced that she had two spots left in her infant massage class, I registered.

This particular series was taught in the comfort of Kari's home and included 5 mama-baby pairs. The first class began with introductions. Fortunately, I was third, giving me time to figure out an answer as to why I was there. I knew I couldn't blurt out an honest, "Um, I can't massage." So I thought about my sweet, 7-week-old Jackson.

The truth was aching in my heart. I had been so busy making sure Cameron was okay with his new little brother that I hadn't fully connected with my baby! My sudden revelation flooded me with emotion as I choked back tears when my turn finally came.

Later, beginning our first lesson, we placed our naked babies on pillows in front of us. Jackson quickly earned the reputation for having the longest pee range. I was so proud—I think.

Kari taught us to ask our babies permission before we undressed or massaged them. If they were receptive, we would continue. We were given organic olive oil and told that it was a good idea to only put things on a baby's skin that we would want a baby to eat. Okay, so far I was two-for-two: I couldn't pronounce the ingredients of my lotion at home, and I had been disrespecting my baby's boundaries!

Then we learned how to massage little legs. As I rubbed the olive oil on Jackson, I couldn't help but wonder if rosemary and thyme were next. While I was laughing to myself, I noticed that Jackson was peacefully staring into my eyes. Time stood still. Warmth filled my soul as my smallest son and I exchanged unspoken love, eye to eye.

Four weeks later, we graduated from infant massage class. Now when I rub my hands together and ask him if he wants a massage, Jackson smiles and offers his left foot first.

mommy and me (and me)

December 05, 2005 by Naomi Galley

Cameron had just finished kindergarten, and while most of his peers were signing up for summer camp, his dream for the perfect summer was to stay home and get to know his baby brothe, Jackson. Mindful that Cameron and I had been "Mommy and Me" for 5 1/2 years, I was eager to give matching attention and maintain balance in our family. So I did what any equally self-sacrificing, over-protective mother would do to avoid sprouting seeds of sibling resentment—I stayed away from Mommy and Baby yoga class.

It wasn't long before Cameron caught on and wondered why we weren't going to yoga—all 3 of us! He said, "Mommy, just ask your teacher if I can come. It's no big deal." Having never seen any older siblings in class, I figured the answer was obvious. so I never asked the question. But when teacher Kari Marble learned why we had been M.I.A., she quickly invited Cameron to join class. "As long as he's respectful of the other mamas and babies, I'm willing to give it a try."

Cameron decided that he should bring a "baby" to class, so he could have someone to practice yoga with. Glades, his prized alligator, was an easy choice. He set up his mat with a blanket in front for his "baby" and introduced himself and his alligator to everyone, "I'm Cameron, and this is Glades. He's 1 1/2 years-old." Cameron charmed and impressed us all with his confidence and grace as he eased himself into pose after pose.

At one point during class, Jackson was getting fussy, so I turned him to a left diagonal to give him a slightly different view of the ceiling. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Glades was now the same new angle as Jackson. Cameron was leading Glades by following me.

And there we were: mommy and me, and me (and Glades).

lesson from my 6-year-old

December 02, 2005 by Naomi Galley

In an on-going attempt to keep life simple, I try to plan our days with a minimum of scheduled activities. However, my "to do" list for Thursday had taken on a life of its own, which was barely leaving time for diaper changes or nursing.

Drive Cameron to school, meeting at school, Mommy and Me Yoga, doctor appointment for Jackson, grocery shop, pick Cameron up from school, take Cameron to soccer practice, dinner, bath, bed...

As I was blindly getting ready on this over-scheduled Thursday morning, I realized that I had forgotten to restock my contact lenses supply and that my outdated glasses from two prescriptions ago weren't strong enough to drive with. Suddenly, my day was unraveling before my eyes— couldn't see!

Always conscious to by a positive role model, I was struggling miserably to keep my cool as I searched the same empty contact packages in desperate pursuit of a new lens. Apparently I was doing a poor job of maintaining my composure.

Cameron poked his head into the bathroom and said in a timid voice, "Mommy, this is exactly what we're talking about in school."

"What, no contact lenses?" I hissed.

"No, your emotional elevator is too high. You need to bring it down so you can think with your wizard brain," explained Cameron. "Right now you're thinking with your lizard brain, and that's why you keep looking in the same place for your contacts."

Okay, I was having a grownup, somewhat controlled, temper tantrum, and my child was offering advice. It was both adorable and maddening at the same time, but the lesson was clear: get over it. I needed Cameron to see just how easy it can be to take a deep breath and let a frustrating situation go. I thought I was doing a good job simmering down when my small guru returned with a summation of my progress. "Good job, Mommy. Now you're about half-way up. What you really want is for your elevator to come ALL the way down."

I love Cameron. Although I did miss yoga on that dreadful yet insightful Thursday, I know that I received an invaluable lesson from my 6-year-old.

Toes-to-Nose and Rolly-O's

November 30, 2005 by Naomi Galley

Jackson is almost 6-months-old now, and we have become Mommy and Baby Yoga pros! Lucky for us, we've found two great classes that we alternate between. Jane Austin teaches at Yoga Tree Valencia, and Kari Marble teaches at The Mindful Body.

Both teachers are nurturing, inspiring, encouraging, and knowledgeable. I don't know how they do it, but they have brought me to tears when they have said exactly what I needed to hear during my first months with Jackson. I often forget about myself while caring for others, so it's nice to be reminded how important it is to keep my foundation solid and balanced in order to properly care for my family.

In Kari Marble's class, there is always a time for practicing yoga with our babies. As long as Jackson is awake and accepting, it's one of my favorite parts about Mommy and Baby Yoga.

Jackson seems particularly fond of Toes-to-Nose and Rolly-O's. Toes-to-Nose is exactly as it sounds—encourage your baby to bend at the hips by gently folding his legs toward his nose. Jackson grunts if we try to make him bend—it's his way of letting us know that his belly is in the way.

Although his toes have never actually touched his nose, Jackson is very receptive to trying and usually giggles when I say, "Toes-to-Nose!" Rolly-O's are fun to do. Your left hand holds your baby's left ankle and left hand, while your right hand holds your baby's right ankle and right hand. Roll your baby back and forth from side to side, cooing "Rolly-O's!" Make sure your baby's head stays aligned with his/her body. Bigger babies giggle with delight if you speed up the tempo. Of course, you can make your own variation. At home, Cameron likes to sing "Rolly-O's, Polly-O's," while he rocks his little brother, Jackson, back and forth.

What is your favorite time of day to practice?

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