When Daniele Strawmyre, 45, gave birth to her first child about six years ago, it prompted all kinds of new anxieties and challenges.
Strawmyre had spent her life training in Pilates, yoga and dance, yet she still felt weak after birth.
Strawmyre occasionally wanted to take time to herself, yet that could make her feel like a bad mother.
“I beat myself up, and was riddled with guilt and suffered from postpartum anxiety,” Strawmyre said.
So it’s no surprise that Strawmyre has mixed passions in her work. She combines her love of yoga with her desire to help others navigate parenthood at Ready Set Grow, where she and other instructors teach prenatal and postpartum yoga classes at locations in Portland and in Vancouver at the Slocum House in Esther Short Park.
“I try really hard to make pregnant people feel really empowered, because it can be scary,” Strawmyre said. “It’s getting a lot better, but sometimes there’s a lot of fear-mongering around birth. I love helping people feel a little more empowered and calm.”
Her locations also offer dance and Pilates classes to parents, family yoga and some kids-free yoga and meditation. Strawmyre, who moved to the Northwest from Philadelphia four years ago, is now mostly focusing her teaching on prenatal and postpartum yoga. She lives with her partner and two children in North Portland.
Strawmyre explained that once one becomes a parent they’re not as welcome in most spaces if they want or need to bring their baby. She said she wants “to create spaces where parents can still be themselves and bring their children into their identity.”
“What happens when you get in this routine of taking a class and then your baby starts crawling, and then you’re like, ‘Oh, crap. I can’t go to any classes,’ ” Strawmyre said. “There’s nothing that welcomes children of that age.”
Prenatal yoga focuses on relieving pregnancy-related aches and pains, and prepares women for the “physiological event of giving birth,” Strawmyre said. They can learn about labor positions and breathing techniques. Postpartum yoga helps with recovery after birth by strengthening women’s core, and stretching areas that feel tight.
It also provides an opportunity to leave the house, Strawmyre said.
“You start to get your baby socialized,” she said. “You meet other new parents, which is huge, because having a brand new baby can be really isolating. You feel like you’re just stuck in the house and you have no one to talk to. It’s a huge life change.”
Strawmyre said her goal is to help parents transition from their old lives into parenthood. She said, after a child’s birth, people are not the same as they once were, but they’re not completely different either. Meshing the old and new identity together is key.
“Once you become a new parent, it’s OK, and I would say even necessary on some level to mourn your former identity, because that identity is gone,” she said. “You’re never going to be your pre-parent, nonparent self again. But you can start to incorporate parts of your old identity into the new one, because your old identity also doesn’t disappear. You’re not just mom or dad.”