Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby: The Yoga Workout for New Moms by Jyothi Larson and Ken HowardBantam
Recent years have seen the release of numerous books and videos on prenatal and postnatal yoga. Some, like Shiva Rea's video Prenatal Yoga and DeAnsin Goodson Parker's book Yoga Baby, have been excellent; others have been okay; some have been frightful. One book that still gives me nightmares included a photo of a woman in her second (at least) trimester doing a vigorous Bow Pose, which had to be extremely uncomfortable if not downright dangerous for the little avatar she was carrying. In any case, it's heartening to see the ever-growing interest in yoga resources for the expectant and new mother, but one has to be careful about the advice and instructions one heeds. Happily, New York City instructor Jyothi Larson's new book combines clear, accessible instructions with appropriate cautions and a winning, expansive attitude, all of which makes for a wonderfully inviting and useful guide to yoga in the months leading up to and after baby's arrival. Larson, an experienced teacher--she leads classes at Healing Works, Soho Sanctuary, and Yoga People and holds advanced Integral Yoga teacher certification--and the mother of two young daughters, first learned to love yoga from watching her mother practice. Her lifelong devotion, which she has passed on to her children (although the older daughter, at 11, no longer thinks yoga is "cool"), comes through on every page, as she leads the reader-mother through breath awareness, spinal elongation, and an impressive array of twists, bends, standing poses, restorative poses, and more. After a few introductory chapters covering the basics of breath and relaxation and demonstrating stretching and strength-building poses, Larson offers six chapters providing routines (for mom alone or mom and baby) to be done in discrete periods--pregnancy; the first month or so after birth; six to twelve weeks; three months to a year--as well as several "focused routines" and partner postures. Her models, who all come from her classes, demonstrate the poses energetically and joyously (if, on occasion, not quite expertly). The real blessing inherent in these pages, however, is the collection of "buddha babies" who join their mothers in many of the photos--insatiably curious and playful little dumplings who reach for Mom's face as she does Cobra right over them, or who ride along gleefully as mom stretches their legs and arms or wiggles their toes or lifts them up in the air while reciting "The Grand Old Duke of York." "Practicing yoga with your baby is a wonderful way to add joy to your first year together," Larson writes, and if you didn't know that before, you sure will after perusing her book and trying some of her recommended routines.
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