Yoga: A Mom and Baby Survival Story

“I like to start every class by singing a song,” the instructor says.  

I look up from my yoga mat and the squirming baby I’m trying to keep in place. I did not come here to sing. 

“It follows the tune of ‘You’re Happy and You Know It’, but we’ve changed the words.”  

Well, that’s lazy, I think.  

The instructor folds her hands over her crossed legs and smiles at all the moms.  The kind of smile people reserve for small children and half-wits.  I knew this was a bad idea.  

“I’ll sing it the first time so you can hear the words, and then we’ll all sing it together.”

Do we have to do this?

“Hello, good morning, how are you?”

Oh, hell. 

“Hello, good morning, how are you?” 

I didn’t sign up for this.

“Oh, we’re happy every day”

No, we’re not.

“And we’re gonna stay that way.”

Is this a cult? 

“Hello, good morning, how are you?” 

I contemplate running for the door, but then realize there are too many things to carry and I’d have to make two trips, and that would be embarrassing.  

My husband’s voice plays in my head. Just sign up for it – you deserve to do something for YOU.”  I grit my teeth. Yes, this is for me.  

“Ok, together now!” the instructor says. “And don’t forget to give your baby a big smile as you sing!” 

I look down at Tom, who’s happily twisting his body around on the mat to look at the interesting lights and mirrors. 

I sigh.  What’s a Mom and Baby class without a healthy dose of humiliation? 

I muster a smile and sing the entire stupid song. 

“There,” says the instructor. “That was nice.”

No, it really wasn’t.

I glance to my right, hoping to meet the gaze of other annoyed moms, but everyone is either smiling or nursing their babies.

I look back at Tom. That song was dumb, right?  

He smiles and claps his hands. I wonder whose side he’s on. 

Finally the instructor sets up the first pose and I learn that yoga is all about problem-solving – figuring out ways to pose over and around my baby, and to hold those poses as I drag him back to the mat and rescue his lost llama from behind his head.  I also learn yoga is about balance – the kind of balance required not to crush my baby as I wobble on one leg and make a prayer sign in front of him. 

Finally I look at the clock and I’m so relieved it’s over because this is my first introduction to yoga and it’s freaking exhausting, and because I’ve been inhaling the diaper contents of multiple babies, including mine, for the last 30 minutes. 

“I like to end every class with a song”, the instructor says.  

The woman’s a sadist, I think as I drop my butt to the mat and wonder how I still know the words to Barney the Dinosaur’s theme song. 

As soon as we’re dismissed, I pop Tom in his stroller, avoiding eye contact with all the respectable moms who are changing diapers before they leave. 

You can wait, my eyes tell Tom. 

I rush out the door and break into a jog across the parking lot, glancing back to make sure I’ve lost everyone. Tom starts kicking his legs in excitement at the unexpected ride. 

When we reach the car, I lean over the bar of the stroller and catch my breath.  

“Listen, Tom, I hope you don’t mind, but I don’t think we’ll be coming back here.”

He gives me a wide-eyed look.

“What if Mama steps on you or throws a yoga brick at the instructor? That wouldn’t be nice, would it?” 

For a terrible moment his face is expressionless, but then, thank God, he breaks into an enormous gummy smile. 

Andrea Lynn Koohi is a writer from Toronto, Canada, with work appearing or forthcoming in Streetlight Magazinemac(ro)micEmerge Literary Journal, Versification Zine, and others. Find her on Twitter @AndreaKoohi  

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