What?: I had idly Googled “mum and toddler yoga” in the same way you might Google “cat and owner ballroom dancing” – more out of curiosity to see if it existed than because I thought it might be an actual thing I might want to go to. The Life Centre’s weekly Mums and Toddlers class was the first result to pop up, promising “a joined practice exploring the yoga world of movement through your child’s eyes, combining songs, games and props”. To be honest, the “songs, games and props” bit made me think the class probably had very little to do with the actual practice of yoga and was likely much the same as every other ‘music and movement’-type class we’ve been to, but curiosity got the better of me and I found myself entering my credit card details in spite of my cynicism and the slightly extortionate £17 price tag.
We arrived late, which always makes me incredibly anxious, to find just two other mums and toddlers in the studio, along with the super-friendly teacher who was standing in for the regular host. I immediately chilled out once I’d satisfied myself that this wasn’t going to be the scramble for mats and lunging space that my pre-pregnancy yoga classes at our old gym in Shoreditch had been, and that no one really gave a monkeys (or had even noticed) that we were a bit late, since being on-time is really not a thing in the land of the under-fives.
I was also pretty excited to discover that this was in fact an actual yoga class, complete with poses, breath focus and namastes. It’s no secret that I am absolute shit at yoga, having all the coordination of a newborn giraffe and the flexibility of a geriatric sloth, but that doesn’t mean I don’t bloody love it anyway and I was so excited to discover another activity that I’d enjoyed pre-limpet that I could do with her basically attached to me that I almost forgot she was there until she face-planted (as in her face sandwiched with my face) mid-Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) to affirm her presence.
Actually Bab spent quite a large portion of the class climbing all over me, which the teacher said she’d do and I was convinced she wouldn’t because she usually spends the best part of the day running away from me. As it turned out she found the sight of me crouched over into downward-facing dog utterly fascinating and took up residence on my back for most of the second half of the session, once she’d got bored of munching the rice cakes the teacher had fed her and her little friends to distract them while us mums did some stretching (that and the biscuit she’d pilfered from someone’s bag).
Actually I thought all the tricks the teacher used to keep them happy were utterly ingenious, from filling their tummies with healthy treats to building a maze out of yoga blocks for them to navigate, plus plenty of songs and games to engage them and gently introduce them to the practice of yoga. It was the perfect balance of fun for little ones and chill-out time for the grown-ups, and while we weren’t without one or two mini-tantrums – mostly about not being allowed to take things out of bags that weren’t ours – Bab stayed generally focused throughout and I left feeling more zen than I’ve felt in a long time.
Where and When?: Mums and Toddlers Yoga takes place on Wednesdays from 9.45-10.45am at The Life Centre, Islington. This branch is located at 1-7 Brittania Row, which is a six-minute walk from Essex Road (mainline), 10 from Angel (Northern) and 14 from Highbury & Islington (Victoria, Ginger).
Best Bits: I absolutely loved this and I think Bab had a really nice time too. The setting and teacher were both really lovely and I thought the execution was very clever.
Worst Bits: Pricy (but worth it).
Facilities: Step-free access, baby changing, buggy parking.
Cost: £17 for a single class. Class passes are available in blocks of five, 10 or 20, and membership costs £105 per month.
Would We Come Back?: Yes. In fact I’m seriously considering buying a block of class passes, which is high praise from a commitment-phobe like me.
Bab explores the yoga-block maze at Mums and Toddlers Yoga, The Life Centre, Islington.