Maria Dicieanu shares how Natasha Marin of Studio 191 understands and helps women continue to practise yoga in their various busy roles, with a focus on new mothers.
You know them, I know them, every parent knows them – the people who claim to be able to improve your life, guiding you to ditch the extra weight, extra nerves, extra everything, all from the comfort of their calm kid-free existence. Sometimes we can easily dismiss them. Sometimes we genuinely believe they can help but in the back of our minds remains an element of doubt. Do they know what it takes? Can this person help turn my hectic upside-down life back around? In the case of Natasha Martin and her yoga & lifestyle Studio 191, the answer is a resounding YES!
Understanding the Challenges of Being a New mother
Quite simply, Natasha gets it. Time and time again she has shown that she understands perfectly the challenges of being a mother. Natasha launched the Baby + Me programme that allows mothers to bring their babies along to their yoga sessions. She made sure her classes were not only about exercising but also about socialising, helping mothers to connect and chat over (healthy!) drinks. She shows mothers that they can still feel like "women".
'I think with mums it goes beyond mindfulness,' Natasha says. 'It's a soul level; it's about feeling able to provide things for yourself because you're always providing for your baby.'
Despite being acutely aware that her days look substantially different from those of a new mother, Natasha feels there is also a number of similarities: the unpredictability, the busy-ness, the exciting but energy-draining projects. For this reason, she believes strongly that her solutions can help everybody, and mothers, in particular, tackle their daily challenges with a better mindset. Natasha's secret weapon lies in creating ritualistic behaviours.
Creating Your Rituals for Calmness
"The problem for mums is that it's very hard to set a time to be able to do these rituals. If your baby needs something you can't do what you're doing, you have to focus on your child. So I try to approach ritualistic behaviour as a set of goals, things I'd like to do throughout the day. And I try not to get too caught up on the timeframe. This timeframe is often the reason why people reject their rituals. You create a beautiful morning ritual for yourself, which could be how you shower, what you eat for breakfast, etc., and you create too much of an order for these things. And then your baby needs something, you tend to think 'well, I missed my time, so now I'm not going to do that.' I try to look at a ritual as something where the order can be moved around, without being bound to the concept of time. So I do the same things every day but in a different order.”
One of the essential things with rituals is that they should be small and tangible. Otherwise, they risk becoming unachievable. For instance, Natasha understands it is quite unlikely you are going to make it to an hour-long yoga class each day while taking care of a small child. But you could replace that overly optimistic daily goal with a five-minute yoga practice based on stretching in bed, while the baby is napping or playing next to you. As Natasha explains, the main idea is not to give it up completely, making assumptions that new mothers don't have time for yoga unless surrounded by an army of nannies and helpers. As a matter of fact, this five-minute stretching ritual is one employed by Natasha herself during her busiest days when finding the time to practise on the mat seems impossible.
Daily Habits Can Be Simple and Fun!
When we get into discussing some of her other daily habits, Natasha mentions taking an Evening Primrose Oil supplement. She is a big fan of its beneficial functions, though she reminds everyone to consult a huisarts/regular physician first. Natasha also includes actively cuddling with her puppy each morning as one of her daily rituals – very simple, very basic, very easy to accomplish, but providing a ton of positive energy. Walking the puppy is also a component of her daily routines, giving Natasha a chance to immerse herself in another favourite activity: listening to podcasts. She recommends Mum's The Word and MindBodyGreen, both of which are highly motivational ways of staying on track and full of useful tips.
Natasha also includes actively cuddling with her puppy each morning as one of her daily rituals – very simple, very basic, very easy to accomplish, but providing a ton of positive energy.
Most of the things Natasha does routinely contribute to healthy nourishment for the mind and the body. However, this doesn't need to be the case for everybody. Rituals can take all sorts of shapes and forms, so it's about finding the ones that suit each person. And, at its core, this is also the beauty of Studio 191. It is not about simply providing a location to practise yoga or to take part in workshops about having a healthy mind and lifestyle. Natasha and her team go beyond that, helping mothers, and women in general, to set their own rules and come up with their own rituals and programs.
Ultimately the goal at Studio 191 is for women to take as many ideas home as possible and introduce them to their daily lives so that it all blends organically and coherently; so that each woman connects and rediscovers her own self. And ... feels empowered!
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Maria Dicieanu is multimedia in human form: Media Researcher, Journalist, Filmmaker, PR and Social Media Expert, Cinephile, TV-show aficionado, book-lover, music video guru. She is also mother of the sweetest daredevils, Aiden and Colin. Twitter: @ricutza
Photo credit: Studio 191