Busy new parents find peace of
mind and body in Stroller Yoga.
By Dani Burlison
Many new parents count every second until baby’s nap time, when they can pour that extra cup of French Roast, flip through parenting magazines they’re too tired to actually read, or slip into cat naps to recharge before changing more diapers, preparing more snacks, washing more dishes. It’s often challenging to include fitness routines in the early days of child rearing, especially for mothers who weren’t all that athletic to begin with. Heck, sometimes it’s a challenge to just get outside! But a new wave of moms determined to carve out some fresh-air time for self-care without leaving their babies—and without the strenuousness and high impact of full-out stroller jogging—are pushing and stretching their way to mind/body health.
Stroller Yoga, or Strollga, creatively mixes adaptive yoga poses and stretches with varied levels of cardio work, and helps parents feel more connected to themselves, their children and others in their communities.
Kaela Miller, a certified Bikram and Vinyasa Yoga instructor in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, found herself taking a break from work when her daughter was born three years ago. With a strong desire to stay fit and interact with other parents, she began leading small groups of stroller-pushing moms (and dads) out onto the hillsides of her Rocky Mountain community for hour-long fitness routines of yoga stretching and light jogging punctuated by Asanas, or yoga poses. It became so popular that before long she was running Ski Town Stroller Yoga.
But Miller isn’t the only one teaching stretching and strolling. Many nationwide organizations like Baby Boot Camp offer stroller yoga groups, as well as private sessions for those new to simple downward dogs, Ardha Chandrasanas and the tricky world of balancing self-care with parenting.
“I’ve been told by several of my moms that taking these classes benefits them not only physically but also mentally,” says Kristin Menapace who offers Strollga classes through Baby Boot Camp in Princeton, New Jersey. “And I believe that when we are happier and healthier, we benefit our families as well as ourselves.”
“What's so great about Stroller Yoga, aside from the health benefits, is that it creates communities,” says Miller. “It also sets a great example for children when they grow up watching their parents being active and taking care of themselves.”
When it’s too cold to exercise outdoors, Miller brings her groups inside for “Mommy and Me Yoga,” which she says helps parents develop healthy relaxation practices, such as yogic breathing, that can help calm fussy babies. And for moms desiring more inward reflection and less exertion, these classes are a great alternative.
Both Stroller Yoga and Mommy and Me Yoga are excellent ways for mom and baby to take time out together, recharge and remember to breathe—even if only for a few cherished hours each week.
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Dani Burlison is a wannabe anthropologist who lives, writes, teaches writing workshops and entertains her children in Northern California.