I first went to one of Tara Lee‘s yoga classes five years ago when I was pregnant with my son. Something of a yoga legend, Tara is the go-to girl for pregnancy yoga (she also teaches Mother and Baby yoga and Vinyasa Flow) with everyone from Rosamund Pike to Laura Bailey having gone to her classes. Celebrity clients are all well and good, but, there’s so much more to Tara than famous names and starry clientele. Her classes were a revelation to me and one of the most enjoyable things I remember about pregnancy. Every time I went (twice a week with my eldest child – first timer alert, and then a little less than I would’ve liked with my subsequent pregnancies) I left on a high feeling stretched, rested and very, very peaceful. She was wonderful, the exercises amazing and the music just perfect – I can’t listen to Massive Attack without thinking of her! And so, I for one, am thrilled that she has a new pregnancy video out. I may not be with bump, but I urge anyone who is to try it out. I am also thrilled that Tara (a mother of two, trained doula and Shiatsu practitioner) has let us into her world, telling us how she makes her juggle – home, children, teaching – work….
When did you first start practicing yoga?
I started when I was about 19 and at university in Bristol. A friend was into yoga and asked me if I wanted to come to a class with her and I loved it straight away! It helped keep me sane while I was studying so much.
How did you start teaching?
I started teaching my mother and her friends after I had done my first training. I travelled an hour each way to teach an hour class, but it gave me some experience and they loved it! Luckily, I was then offered a class locally. After teaching for about five years I was asked to teach a weekly class at The Life Centre in West London, which felt like a real honour as I had always really looked up to all the teachers there. I now teach there 3 days a week.
You’re really well known for your pregnancy and post-natal classes. Why are you so interested in this area of yoga?
I have always been fascinated with pregnancy and birth. I trained in pregnancy yoga even before I had my first child. Once I was pregnant and felt the benefits of doing regular yoga, I realised how powerful the yoga was and I couldn’t believe how well I felt throughout my pregnancy and how quickly I recovered after the birth. I felt that I needed to share this with other women. Bringing out a pregnancy yoga DVD helps me to reach women all over the world now!
How can doing yoga really benefit pregnant women – some of whom may never have done a yoga class before?
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done any yoga before or whether you are inflexible or unfit! Practicing yoga while you are pregnant helps improve your circulation, makes you feel energised, helps you sleep well, improves your mood and prepares you for labour both mentally and physically.
How do you manage looking after your children while you work?
I have help a few times a week after school as my children are at schools half an hour away from each other by car and finish at the same time! I can’t be in two places at once so recently I decided to get some more help as I was asking too many favours from my mother-in-law and other parents! I have an 8 year old boy, Jago and a 10 year old girl, Lola.
My childcare needs have changed according to the different stages the children were in. I went from having minimal childcare when I had one baby (a few hours here and there so I could keep teaching my classes) to having full-time help when my second came along! I found juggling two little ones very challenging at the beginning, especially while trying to juggle my work and before they were at nursery. However once they were a bit older and started school I found I could cope much more easily, mostly on my own, until now!
Do you have a set routine to your weekends or is it more go-with-the-flow?
We have a set routine for Saturday mornings (football for my son and 11+ preparation homework for my daughter) but the rest of the weekend is usually spent in the countryside at my mother’s house with my brothers and all the children together (6 of them quite often!) I need to relax on Sundays as much as possible to deal with the hectic demands of the rest of the week!
Do your family practice yoga?
Yes my children love to do yoga. We make it very playful and fun and only do yoga when they feel like it. It’s usually more often during the school holiday as the school weeks are jam packed these days. My husband used to practice regularly with me, but he now does a bit of yoga here and there. He plays a lot of football and is a keen cyclist so doesn’t have so much time for yoga these days.
Do you think you’ve achieved a good work/life balance? If so, how do you think you’ve managed it?
Yes at the moment I do feel like I have a good balance. As a general rule I don’t tend to accept any work that is evenings or weekends, so that I can have time with my family or just rest and I prioritize doing the school run every morning and every afternoon (except for very occasionally). I don’t take on too much teaching as I like to keep the classes fresh and I want other time to work on my other projects like my new DVD. When I first started teaching before I had my children, I took on a lot of work and I travelled long distances to teach. Now I restrict my hours and only teach locally when possible.
What’s the best thing about being a working mum?
The excitement, challenge and feeling of satisfaction when you feel you are managing to do everything! It’s also very rewarding to be helping so many women alongside raising my two children.
What’s the hardest thing about being a working mum?
When you feel you are juggling too much and it all feels too overwhelming and if you have to miss your kids sports matches or school plays etc because of work commitments.
Do you manage to carve out much ‘me’ time for yourself?
Yes I do now that the kids are at school. I prioritise time for me to do yoga or other exercise nearly every day in the morning, as I think it’s important for my state of mind and well being.
What would you change, if you could, about your current set up?
I would like my husband to be around in the mornings (he leaves before they wake up) to help get the children ready for school and share the school run driving!
If you could give any advice to someone looking to juggle work and family, what would it be?
Don’t take on too much, find some time in the day that is just for you and try and find support with the kids, whether that’s from your husband, parents or other friends with children. Don’t try and do it all alone! And, go to bed early…
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