Thank you to Alisa Blackwood for the guest post.
When Anna Melzer’s water broke at 41 weeks pregnant, her contractions were manageable. She faced two choices: go to the hospital early or drive to Minneapolis’ Lake Harriet, where an outdoor yoga festival for pregnant women and mothers was about to begin. She chose the yoga festival, aptly named “Bellyrama.”
“I was so happy with my choice… mamas, sunshine, the lake, the breeze, yoga, squats, dancing… heaven! Best yoga practice ever!” Melzer says. She spent much of that yoga practice breathing through intensifying contractions, connecting to her baby and body, and absorbing the supportive, loving energy of the women around her.
This Saturday, Aug. 25, Melzer returns to Lake Harriet for the 3rd Annual Bellyrama — this time as a mother of an almost-1-year-old son. She’ll also be on stage, but this time not in early labor. She’ll join Bellyrama founder and prenatal yoga teacher Sarah Longacre, who leads the sunny, late-summer yoga practice. Longacre tapped Melzer, a long-time belly dancer, to take the microphone for a song and lead the expected 400-500 mamas in some belly dancing moves.
Longacre’s prenatal/postnatal yoga studio, Blooma, is a haven of support and education for Twin Cities’ moms and families — and is the originating energy behind Bellyrama.
“Bellyrama is about celebrating, honoring, and being in community to know that we are not alone — to honor the fact that being a mom, or a dad, and a family takes a lot,” says Longacre. “When we come together and unite with breath, with movement, and with music, the energy we build can go out and spread to the larger community.”
Whether pregnant, or well into her mothering years, every woman is invited to bring her family, friends, and her yoga mat for an uplifting yoga practice accompanied by live music. The backdrop? One of the city’s most gorgeous gems: a lively, urban lake and park with bike trails, a new playground and swimming beaches.
Mamas will lunge, squat and salute the sun starting at 9 a.m., while kids are invited to stay for a free kids yoga class (10:30 a.m.) led by Jes Rosenberg from The Adventures of Super Stretch.
Just like in Blooma’s daily yoga classes, it’s Longacre’s infectious and positive energy that urges women to reconnect to their inner wisdom, while creating community, mat-to-mat.
Too often in our culture, Longacre says, women find themselves without that community. Bellyrama celebrates pregnancy, birth, and motherhood, while reminding mothers that on those hard days, they’re not alone.
“The simple act of slowing down, stretching and connecting allows you to let go of expectations and be where you are,” she says. “In those moments we can remember our community of support, and remind ourselves how blessed we are to create life and to mother.”
For those not near the Twin Cities, Longacre invites moms to think about how they can create their own supportive birth and mothering communities. Perhaps invite over some friends for a mini-yoga session and talk time.
“You and three girlfriends can get in your backyard, inhale up to the sun and exhale as you bow forward,” she says. “It can be as simple as that.”
For Melzer, she’s excited to give back to mothers the support she received at Blooma and at last year’s Bellyrama.
“When I was pregnant, Blooma was the place where I got support and information from. It was so much more important — necessary, even — than I can describe,” she says. “We all need to feel connected. We need to sense and feel and have faith that we are part of something bigger. I think that for many of us that feeling starts to grow from being part of a community, part of someone else’s life. And through those intimate relationships we are able to see that we are truly loveable, worthy, and divine — even with our sometimes irrational thoughts, insecurities and imperfections.
“Now that I’m teaching, I hope to give that to others,” Melzer says. “The circle of support just keeps going.”
Want to attend Bellyrama? Here are the details:
When: Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012; 9 a.m.
What: A free, outdoor yoga festival for moms, moms-to-be, and their families
Where: The Lake Harriet Bandshell, Minneapolis, MN
More: Bring your own mat, water and sunscreen
Melanie Mayo-Laakso is the Content Manager for Mothering.com. Mothering is the birthplace of natural family living and attachment parenting. We celebrate the experience of parenthood as worthy of one's best efforts and are at once fierce advocates for children and gentle supporters of parents.