And thank you, thank you to all those lovely members who have made it such a great first year. We are well on our way to matching up our 150th group of likeminded mum friends, and whether you were one of our very first guinea pigs or more recent joiners, we are so grateful to have you along for the ride. It's a bit of an old cliché to talk of a roller coaster year, but it has certainly kept us busy.
Reflecting back on the last year there have been some real challenges, usually around finding time to keep on top of everything on the work and home front, with the new business often feeling like a demanding fourth child! And with that of course there have been some lovely highs, but especially receiving lovely feedback and reviews - it's a great feeling to hear that groups are still meeting up a year on and having fun, and even planning things like nanny shares together. It is strangely satisfying when we make a match on multiple levels, like the group who had all taken a completely different career path from the one they studied towards and also all played a musical instrument. Or the group who all worked in the medical profession and liked running. And more than once we have introduced people who live on the same road (and have lots more in common besides that) but who had never met one another - maybe it's a London thing! We've even welcomed back some early members who enjoyed their first Match Up Mums experience and have come back for a second time, around their next pregnancy - you fast workers know who you are… And it is lovely to have you back.
Latest offers from our partners
I couldn't talk about the first year without acknowledging the support we have had from so many other businesses. This really is a lovely sector to work in, it seems to attract people who are kind, open and supportive and we've loved getting to know lots of new people forging interesting careers and businesses.
It also means we can reward our members for being part of Match Up Mums with a raft of exclusive offers (now worth in the thousands of pounds if you were to do the lot!) in our members' area. This month we have some new offers and our usual guest posts, and it seems appropriate on this anniversary newsletter that we have one of them from someone I have known personally for many years, and one is the latest new partner we have met thanks to an introduction from our friends at Neighbourhood Midwives, who also recommend them highly.
Firstly all of our members can claim a free yoga class with Nadia Raafat - I know it won't be exactly local to many of you, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that this is a very special class and well worth a trip! I went to Nadia's pregnancy classes myself at BatterseaYoga in my first pregnancy, and really loved having the time to get my head around the fact I was having twins(!). Second time around it was equally valuable to just have some time out from juggling work with being a mummy to two very busy boys, to feel a connectedness to our new baby. So, highly recommended. As well as pregnancy yoga there are postnatal classes and a lovely mum and baby class too.
BatterseaYoga are offering all Match Up Mums subscribers their first class free at any class of their choice. To book your free class simply follow the link from our members' area to BatterseaYoga.com and use the discount code provided.
If it is too far to travel for the class itself, do check out the next best thing which is Nadia's DVD, endorsed by many magazines, midwives, baby product review sites and birth education organisations.
Secondly, we very recently met with the founder of a new and adorable baby clothing company, Baby MORI. Dubbed "unclepreneurs" by the FT, these guys bring an innovative and fresh approach to baby clothes. I know everyone says their babygros are soft (you wouldn't sell many marketed as 'super-scratchy', after all!) but these ones are almost *shockingly* soft and made from all natural fabrics. You can purchase as you need from the MORI website, or subscribe to their parcel service and receive deliveries every 6 weeks - just when you abby is about to enter the next phase. Their fabrics are a beautifully soft cotton/bamboo mix, designs are Scandinavian and Japanese-inspired, and colours are always neutral. Because we like them so much, we asked for a special offer for all our Match Up Mums members. The code they have provided for us will get you 20% off all MORI products, or try their £42 subscription for just £20 with free shipping in the UK (you can cancel this anytime) - find it in the members area of our site.
We have more offers in the pipeline so watch this space. In the meantime I will leave you to enjoy Nadia's guest post, and I'll just sign off by wishing you all a great summer. Thanks again for being part of our brilliant first year and please do recommend us to any mums and mums-to-be you know!
Until next month, have a good one...
Becoming a mother was synonymous for me with becoming a yogini. Although I had dabbled in yoga pre-pregnancy it was only really during the trials and tribulations of my first unplanned pregnancy, thirteen years ago, that I discovered the sanctuary that yoga offered.
I trained as a yoga teacher when my first-born was 18 months old and have not walked away from my mat since… Yoga has accompanied me through my subsequent pregnancies, supported me throughout the births and the postnatal period of a further three children. Today my four yoga babies are aged 12, 10, 5 and 19 months old.
Yoga was made for pregnancy. In a sense pregnant women get a fast track ticket to the heart of the practice. Pregnancy with all its niggles and symptoms brings women into their bodies in a visceral way; their bodies swell, their breasts grow, calves cramp, backs ache and hormones rage. But most of all a small being floats and tumble-turns inside them. Whilst exercise is needed so many forms become off-limits. Yoga, through a prescribed combination of posture work, breath work, mantra, relaxation, visualisation and meditation, offers physical well-being and relief from many of the complaints of pregnancy. But more than that it also offers emotional and mental wellbeing too. A recent study, carried out by the Oxford Centre of Mindfulness found that pregnant women carried markedly reduced stress hormone levels in their bodies after a mindful yoga class.
As the birth looms and the baby wriggles down towards the birth canal pregnant women really start to engage with the practice; they suddenly find the meditation easy and feel motivated to get their baby into a good position for the birth. During the labour itself yoga and meditation offers women a clear pathway; the path of presence and open-minded, open-bodied awareness. Using the movements and breathing exercises learned in class, the mantras and visualisations practiced week in, week out, they are well placed to carry themselves through the twists and turns of the childbirth experience with a relaxed and open body and mind.
In our postnatal classes new mamas and babies yoga together. Mum restores and re-energizes her body, rebuilds her strength, rediscovers her fitness whilst baby, at first, snoozes, and then, later, joins in. Babies love baby yoga. They love to be touched, squeezed, and played with. And as the babies grow, the yoga grows with them. Six month old babies fly, swing, roll and ride their mothers’ bodies chuckling and giggling as they do. It aids their motor development, vestibular development and emotional development too. Baby yoga helps babies digest well, move well and then sleep well. In fact at the end of a class, the baby is usually snoring before mum is out of the studio door.
Today myself and my partner Angus Ford-Robertson and I are lucky enough to have established our own beautiful and independent studio next to Battersea park where we offer a wide range of classes. For Mothers and Babies we offer three pregnancy classes, one baby-friendly postnatal and one mum and baby yoga class. Batterseayoga also offers a number of meditation classes and our Beginners Mindfulness programme is being widely referred to by GPs across Wandsworth borough - and many a pregnant woman is to be found in those classes too.
As study after study demonstrates the efficacy of these ancient practices, more and more mothers are experiencing for themselves the well-being that yoga and meditation bring. All you need is a mat and an open mind. I invite you to come and visit our studio with baby in belly or in arms and discover for yourself the gifts of yoga. Fit body, Calm mind. Happy Baby. What more could a mother ask for?