A Room for One's Womb

Baby om meets the postpartum body

Lesley Bunnell Russ, a 29-year-old modern dancer and bookkeeper with nine-month-old Fiona in tow, has been attending Baby Om since March. After the session, she said "Laura has an innate sense of how to incorporate yoga for moms and babies. She's really good at explaining that we're doing this—inverting our bodies, for example—because our hips are tired from carrying the baby." Fiona appeared amused throughout much of the class. "She doesn't really cooperate now, but when she was smaller and out of sorts, the exercises made her happy. I think twisting her legs helped her with gastrointestinal stuff."

Marisa Cohen, 36 and a freelance writer, was attending her first class with two-month-old Molly. "I liked that Baby Om wasn't too hippie-dippy spiritual," she said afterward. "And when I was lying on my back doing flying baby, it was the first time I heard Molly giggle."

I went to another Baby Om class hoping that with the help of a friend my twins and I could participate more fully. It was a quieter session, more productive perhaps, but the instructor didn't have Staton's magic touch. My poses, desperately in need of correction, went unremarked on, and the explanations of how a given pose helped heal this or that postpartum malaise were less rigorous. A few days later I went to the Mommy yoga class (sans babies), but of the six students I was the only postpartum attendee (the others were pregnant). Although I discovered I'm a hyperextender and in need of restorative asanas, the class was not the existential high I'd been craving. The instructor was similarly slack in fixing poses.

Staton really does have a gift for identifying what the postpartum body needs, perhaps because she's a mother of two. "After my first baby was born I'd just cry and feel like everything was upside down," she admits. "A road back was through my body because it's a point of knowing and identification for me." The neutral environment of Baby Om reflects the casual tone of the book, making a strong case for reconnecting with your body while steering clear of what she calls the "cliché of a warm room with women talking about their uteruses."

Baby Om: Yoga for Mothers and Babies (Henry Holt, 261 pp., $17 paper). Baby Om holds classes throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. For information, visit babyom.com or call 212.615.6935.

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