Not-just-for-mums Mother and Baby Yoga @jivahealth

A couple of years before Junior arrived I started to struggle with a really bad back – so bad that I thought I was going to have to give up playing rugby. Then I started going to yoga. And it was a revelation as far as my back and fitness was concerned. I even found a style (Iyengar) that suits someone like me with absolutely no natural aptitude for yoga at all. Despite having all the flexibility commonly associated with a plank of wood, I was able to get into (some of) the poses.

I've decided to use Junior as an excuse to start going again (time is much more precious with him around, and l haven't been able to find a class that fits our schedule) yet my trepidation at attending a “Mother and Baby” yoga class was less to do with it being “mothers” (rooms full of women are baby-standard) it was more how I'd combine trying to make my body do things in many cases I firmly believe it wasn't designed to do with managing a mobile infant.

Fortunately, Jiva Health were very accommodating and friendly – never mind Dads, apparently mobile infants aren't really the norm, as mothers get worried about them being too disruptive from the crawling stage. I was told this as we were about to go into the class, so wasn't sure quite what to make of it…

The yoga itself was good (teacher was calm and helpful) if understandably simple, and interspersed with songs for the little ones. Junior was the only independently mobile child, yet actually stayed away from the other babies. Mostly! However he hasn't had quite such a good week this week as last, and was quite grumpy and clingy for the second half – unfortunate as this was the set of poses I can actually do…and relaxation involved me and him playing with the blinds as opposed to contemplating our inner peace. In fairness to him, we had done Gymboree earlier in the morning and it wasn't the usual level of stimulation or attention he prefers.

However I felt it was worth it – everyone was a bit surprised to see a Dad, but were very welcoming, and I'll defintely be going back. If only so I can try to remember the theoretical feeling of relaxation, if not the actual feeling!



Changes in Parenthood 1: Gymboree

Gymboree. A word that to most non-parents means nothing. And to those parents that aren't near one it still might not – but the concept will be familiar. A soft-play room, some toys, and a musically talented teacher. What more can a child need?

A year ago it would have sounded like my idea of hell. A room full of babies and parents (almost entirely mums, obviously), being cajoled into singing, clapping and venerating a large stuffed mannequin (Gymbo, a slightly cuddlier version of Ronald McDonald, below) who is used by said teacher to demonstrate.

Yet the look on Junior's face when Gymbo comes out, coupled with his obvious delight in banging the various instruments and watching the other babies is a joy to see.

My conclusion is that Gymboree is alright. It is a bit cringey (obviously there's a “Gymboree School” somewhere that teaches the acceptable way to sing as the North American drawl to some of the songs is unmistakable) but is surprisingly good fun. The pricing structure is a more to their benefit than yours, but not the most you spend on your child. It is so popular in Wimbledon that they actually have 2 venues.

And the singing is liberating, especially when yours is as bad as mine. Because you're clearly only doing it for your child no-one can complain…