Believe in Breastfeeding

Posted by: Jenny Everett King, CYT

The cover of a well-known magazine this week featured a well-known actress performing a well-known activity: breastfeeding her child. Now, just like when another magazine’s cover portrayed a breastfeeding mother and baby in 2006, people have complained. There are, apparently, many adults and teenagers who are uncomfortable with images of nursing mothers.

Breastfeeding is one of the few practices left in our culture that is inherently natural. It also happens to be healthy for both mother and baby (physically and emotionally), convenient, and economical. (Stressed about the expense of having a baby in the current economy? Breastfeed, and you could save thousands of dollars a year!) Most of us know, intellectually, that breastfeeding is the ideal means of infant nutrition. Yet many still don’t like to see it in action.

Consequently, many breastfeeding mothers feel uncomfortable nursing their babies in public. Numerous women have commented, “I just don’t want to make anyone else feel awkward.” A mother may not mind being seen nursing her baby, but still mind the disapproving looks she gets for doing so. The majority of restaurants, shopping malls, and airports do not offer an area that is comfortable, clean, private, and otherwise appropriate for breastfeeding. Many women feel that they are left with a choice between hygiene and privacy . (Public restrooms are very often not an option. )

If we as a culture truly believe in the benefits of breastfeeding for all babies, then we must show our support for nursing mothers. We should encourage them to feed their babies in the area where they are most comfortable, physically and emotionally. We certainly should never make them feel awkward or embarrased.

At Healing Hands, we offer a comfortable and private sitting area where we invite women to breastfeed. However, mothers are welcome to feed their babies wherever they prefer in our office. We believe that both mother and baby benefit immeasurably from the act of breastfeeding, and we are committed to encouraging this aspect of natural health and well-being.

Undo the Damage

Posted by: Jenny Everett King


My two-year-old likes to fold in half, place the top of her head on the floor, and say, “Look, Mom, I’m doing yoga!” If she has an audience (other than her proud yoga teacher mama), her performance usually leads to a discussion of “Wouldn’t you love to have that kind of flexibility!” At that point, I usually point out that most of us could have something approaching that level of flexibility, if only we would work to develop it.

Granted, most of us will never be able to put our heads on the floor when practicing a forward bend. The abilities of small children have as much to do with their proportions as they do with flexibility. But our lack of flexibility as adults has more to do with a lifetime of bad, tension-inducing habits than it does with aging.

Years of teaching have shown me that close relationship between daily activities and physical tension. Most runners have tight hamstrings and pain in the lower back, while many weight-lifters have tight chests and difficulty taking a deep, full breath. I usually see tight calves and toes (and the resulting lower back pain) among professional women who frequently wear high heels; I see wrist pain and tight hips among the computer set. Breastfeeding mothers often have tight upper backs and rounded shoulders. The list goes on. To make matters worse, most of compensate for our tight areas by over-using other muscles and joints, which in turn leads to more tension – a vicious cycle.

So, can we help our bodies out of this mess?

The first and obvious solution is to change our habits. No, I am not suggesting you change your exercise routine or quit your job, and I certainly would never tell a woman to stop breastfeeding her baby. But we can change the way we do certain things. Consider a change in footwear, for running or for work. At the computer and while nursing, be conscious of using good posture and changing position frequently.

The second part of maintaining and eventually increasing flexibility is simple: Use it or lose it. In yoga classes, we focus on undoing the damage from daily life as well as promoting general flexibility. I often have runners and avid hikers focus on their hamstrings, while a nursing mom may concentrate on opening her shoulders and chest in the same pose. Likewise, a high-heel-wearing executive might focus on her calves in Downward-Facing Dog, while someone on a computer all day might concentrate on opening his hands to take pressure off the wrists. That’s the beauty of yoga: Each pose works so many areas, that people with very different lifestyles can practice together and reap the benefits.