We talk about the personal benefits that come from cultivating a yoga practice all the time, but how does a new baby play into all of that? Alo Om-bassadors and married yogis Ashley Galvin and Josh Kramer can attest that yoga impacts pregnancy and parenting in a major way (and vice versa). They welcomed their baby girl, Koa, into the world just over a month ago, and their practices have already taken on new meanings—further proof that, whatever prompts you to take up yoga, it'll touch your life in ways you might not expect (kickstarting your creativity, for one). We chatted with the new parents about how yoga has prepared them for parenting, what's surprised them most about the experience and the yoga-inspired advice they have for parents-to-be.
We love the name Koa! Where did it come from?
Ashley Galvin: I have loved the name Koa for years. I originally heard it as koa wood, from the acacia tree in Hawaii. I loved how it’s tied to nature and how unique and beautiful it is. When Josh told me that it’s a New Zealand name as well, it was the obvious choice.
Josh Kramer: We have a special connection to [the name] Koa. It has both Hawaii and New Zealand Maori meanings—in Hawaii, Koa means fearless, brave warrior; in Maori, Koa means joy and happiness!
How has having a baby changed your outlook on your yoga practice? Your careers?
Ashley: Koa has taught me to be more patient. In every way. Throughout my pregnancy, and now postpartum, I have learned to be patient with my body in my yoga practice as well as teaching. I have a deeper understanding with my students who have gone down this path. My career teaching yoga will only be enhanced and broadened now, as I can relate to an entirely new audience.
Josh: Having Koa in our lives certainly changes a lot! In term of yoga, not much has changed on a surface level. I find time to practice and study when I can—this often means getting creative with things! I love to put Koa in a carrier on my chest and flow. Yoga is an opportunity for me to spend time with my daughter, and I foresee this being something we share on a deeper level as she gets older. In terms of my career, I feel more inspired and motivated than ever! So much of our work is about creativity—taking amazing photos, traveling, coming up with new and exciting classes—and having a child has given me a creative kickstart.
Is there anything that has surprised you about the experience and how it’s impacted your practice?
Ashley: I’m surprised how much love and patience I have. Koa comes first, before myself or anyone else. I didn’t really understand what that looked like until now. I don’t think anyone understands that type of love until they have a child. It has made me look at my practice in a new way—I don’t have as much free time, so I really appreciate the time I do have on the mat. Where I once took it for granted, I now honor it.
Josh: When it comes to life with a newborn, you have to learn to live in the moment and do so with patience. Whether it is taking over an hour to get ready to leave the house or holding her until the falls asleep, it takes a lot of willpower to remain calm and relaxed. This is something I’ve carried through to my yoga practice. Patience and adaptability are two aspects I now think about regularly when I practice. I move with intention, and I connect with my body in a much deeper and more mindful way. I continually remind myself to be patient and savor the experience. My yoga has influenced how I am as a father, and being a father has influenced how I practice yoga—I would have never thought the two would be related.
Ashley, what did you gain from practicing yoga throughout your pregnancy?
I gained a deep respect for my body—a respect and love I never had before. I look at my body in a whole new light. I looked at my practice in a new light. Moving felt more nurturing and therapeutic. I was practicing with another soul in my body, feeling her move as I moved.
What advice do you have for pregnant yogis or pregnant people looking to add elements of yoga into their lives?
Ashley: Take it slow, listen to your body and move intuitively. Yoga during pregnancy is a beautiful time to honor your body and connect to self. It’s the perfect “me time”—just you on your mat, listening inward and connecting to your little one. Be gentle with yourself. You probably won’t have the same practice as you did before, and that’s ok. Cherish this time when you can experience your yoga practice in a new way.
Josh: This one's for the dads and dads to be! Yoga is an opportunity for you to connect and bond with both your partner and your baby. I encourage you to use yoga as a way to build a special connection with your child—move with them, move next to them, flow, sing and even sit with them in a quiet space. I would even "om" to Koa before she was born. Now she remembers hearing the vibration of my voice and it connects us in such a special way. You’ll find that yoga takes on a whole new place in your life and your heart.
How has practicing yoga helped you two with parenting?
Ashley: It helps me stay calm. Having a newborn can bring up a lot of emotions, especially with lack of sleep. My practice has taught me patience and grace—even when things get chaotic, you have a choice in your reaction.
Josh: Yoga has led me to be healthy, mindful, strong and creative. These are all traits that I carry into being a parent. As a yoga teacher, compassion is a huge component and it's also such an important thing for parents. Parenting has also helped my yoga! Having a child has inspired and motivated me like never before. It has reminded me to cherish every small joy in life, and to push myself to make the most of any opportunity that presents itself.