I have recently discovered the joys of pregnancy yoga. It remained a well hidden secret from me throughout the whole of my first pregnancy, so that I never discovered it was possible to actually feel comfortable and get a good night’s sleep at least once a week.
Let me say up front, I am a total convert. I love it. I look forward to it all day on a Monday and return home feeling refreshed and revitalised.
Attending these classes has reminded me how cynical I am. It has brought back all the feelings that led me to start my Sceptical Mum blog in the first place.
Is there something wrong with me? Why can’t I just accept the strange nuances of modern pregnancy and motherhood? Why is it that while other parents or mums-to-be nod and smile and welcome whatever weird fads come their way, I can’t help but grimace and smirk?
While the stretching is great and the relaxation is amazing (let’s be honest, any excuse to lie down and do nothing without any risk of someone interrupting you is always amazing!), I find my mind wandering and my inner sceptic creeping into my consciousness.
As the rest of the mums-to-be practice their ‘ocean breaths’ (imagine trying really hard to fog up a mirror) with a steadfast determination, I am permanently bewildered. Hasn’t anyone else noticed how much it sounds like Darth Vader? Is no one else picturing a room full of evil villains, storm clouds rolling over the sky ready for some kind of apocalypse? I join in, but half-heartedly, wondering how pretending to be a cartoon ghost is going to help keep me calm during labour.
Then there are the ‘visualisations’. The moment our teacher instructs us to ‘remove all distractions from our mind’, I know I’m in trouble. I can’t do it. Tell me not to think and my mind is suddenly teeming with information. Just as we’re asked to visualise an empty boat in a peaceful lagoon, the music blaring in the bar below seeps into my consciousness and my visualisation is immediately accompanied by the sound track of ‘You’re Gorgeous’. My mind is off… I loved that song! Who sang it? Baby something? I think he was blonde and had a beard. Baby Bird, that’s it! But why can I only picture Kenneth Brannagh?… Five minutes later, I realise that while everyone has gradually pushed their boat across the lake with their conscious breathing, I’m busy cataloguing 90s one hit wonders in a boat captained by Vanilla Ice. Oops.
I have a little more luck in the physical activities. With something practical to do, my mind has less chance to wander. I’m fine, and getting on with it like everyone else, until she utters those three fatal words: pelvic floor exercises.
Clearly these are important, and the first time she mentioned it I thought ‘Good. I’ve never known how to do these, and God knows I’ve never recovered from my first childbirth’. Only seconds later, and I’m biting my lip to keep from guffawing every time she instructs us to ‘focus on our back passage’ and wondering when I regressed to have the sense of humour of a pre-teenage boy. I silently thank God I don’t know anyone else in the class, and that we do these exercises on all fours so no one can see my face.
Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the indignity of trying to lean forward with a giant bump in the way, the hilarious sight of 15 women who look like they’re smuggling bowling balls up their tops balancing and wobbling into squat positions and the constant fear that any time you bend over could release a massive onslaught of trapped wind! No one ever said pregnancy was glamorous.
Finally, and what worries me most, is the fact that no one else sees this side of it. The rest of the class seem to take everything so seriously. Either they’re far more sensible than me, or much better at hiding it. Some are so focussed it makes me feel guilty for even thinking such subversive thoughts, and every week I worry that ‘scary heavy breathing lady’ is going to pass out from treating her relaxation with such intensity. I’d giggle at her cartoonish puffed out cheeks if I didn’t think she might come over and sit on me as punishment!
Three years after giving birth to my son, I had started to feel I’d found my place in motherhood, and perhaps I wasn’t so sceptical after all. But I had clearly forgotten that strange world of the expectant and new parent, where all social norms are abandoned and things which would once have seemed ridiculous are accepted as totally sensible, while I and a few hidden others watch on bemused.
Oh well, at least it might provide some good blogging material…