Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mom in the Spotlight: Dancer and Yoga Instructor, Amanda Nora Legbeti

Amanda Nora Legbeti holds a B.F.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an M.F.A. in Dance with an emphasis on choreography and fusion from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) where she studied on fellowship.  Amanda has performed professionally with several companies and her choreography has been showcased at venures throughout the US and abroad including: The Kitchen Museum (NY, NY); the Boulder Museum Of Contemporary Art (Boulder, CO); Beall Center for Art+Technology (Irvine, CA), at the Centro Cultural in San Jose, Costa Rica, and in the international tour of ‘The San Souci Festival of Projected Dance’ (Mexico, Trinidad, Tobago). Her passion for teaching has led her to be a choreographer, instructor, or performer of dance at UCI, Iowa State University, Riverside College, Cypress College, Calvin College, The Dance Center at Columbia College Chicago, Coronado School of the Arts, Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop, Dance Masters of Michigan, and Joanne’s Dance Extension.

A Registered Yoga Teacher with the National Yoga Alliance and an Associate Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga Instructor, Amanda feels incredibly blessed to be living her dream: teaching Yoga throughout the amazing city of Chicago, teaching Dance at The Dance Center at Columbia College Chicago, performing professionally here and there, and spending time with her handsome husband and newly born baby girl!  Check out her class with your baby on Wednesdays 12pm or just you and your mat on Saturdays at 11am at BareFeet Power Yoga in the West Loop.  

How old is your little daughter?  
She’s 5 Months Old!!!!!

The biggest surprises about motherhood?
How fun she was even as a newborn.  How much of a challenge nursing is/was.  How much love I am filled with, how it amplifies each day I spend studying her divine uniqueness and personhood, and conversely how much fear I am susceptible to about her well-being now and into the future.

How purposeful I feel and clear my intentions are for everything from eating, to the thoughts I keep, to praying, and to the people I want in my life now.

You have already found a way to meld your work and motherhood by teaching Mommy-Baby yoga.  What are your goals in these classes?
My goal is to provide a space where mommies can:

  •       Breathe!
  •       Connect with and care for their bodies
  •       Explore creative ways to practice yoga while encouraging their babies’      physical and neurological development 
  •       Bond with their beautiful babies as well as other mommies 

That said, if the classes merely bring mamas and their babies together and they become a support for health, wellness, and mama-baby fun and blissfulness for each other . . . I will consider the class series a success!

What is your best "Holy hell, why me?" mommy story? 

One day mid-lunch with my hubby, my three-month-old wakes up quite suddenly and starts screaming -- not like her.  My hubby pays while I head to the backseat of the car to nurse her in private.  After the milk lets down, she keeps screaming and arching and I realize she has a massive dirty diaper.  As I reach for my supplies to change her (my 1st time changing her on my lap), I realize it’s a blowout, the biggest blowout so far, up to her ears in back and through all of her clothes! 

At this point, my husband, on a conference call for work and completely oblivious, gets in the front seat.  I am now cursed with fumbling around trying to be quiet AND avoiding getting poo all over the place as I change her.  Add that to the fact that I am still half-naked.  Finally I get her clean(ish) and hold her with one hand as I reach for a new diaper and new clothing from my bag.  It was then that she arched again and went flying off of my lap head first toward the floor.  I silently screamed an expletive and reached out with both hands and caught her by both ankles, buck naked, her head just about an inch from the ground! I pulled her up onto my lap as my husband looked back casually and said “everything okay back there”? 

I busted out laughing uncontrollably making my little one stop crying stare at me in confusion.  My husband joined in the staring at me in confusion – I was quite a sight.  Later, Hubby asked what had happened and in the middle of my reenactment, he got another conference call.

He still has no idea what transpired in the backseat that day.

The best piece of advice you received when pregnant?  And what's the biggest piece of BS pregnancy advice you heard?  
Best advice: “SWIM!  It makes your pregolicious body weightless and thus feels amazing!” and “Savor each moment when they are newborns . . . they grow up so quickly and you can never get that time back.” 

Biggest BS: “Your eating habits during pregnancy will impact your babies’ lifelong eating habits.” And “Avoid inversions while prego.” Oh and the biggest
piece of BS: “Breastfeeding burns hundreds of calories and the excess prego weight will melt off.”  I have 20lbs of proof that that is total BS!   

What are you looking forward to experiencing as a mom?
I already practice yoga daily with my little love bug and dance salsa and bachata with her to the “Tropicales” channel, but I am really, really excited to play sports with her. I think a family soccer game (dog included), will be the coolest thing ever.  And I can’t wait to applaud and support her from the sidelines or the audience (wink, wink)!  On the sentimental side, I think it will be extremely touching and gratifying as a mom when she has siblings and they become close and loving best friends one day, just like me and my bros.

Even though your daughter is quite young, does your being an artist play into your parenting?  If so how? 
SO MUCH!  There is tons of helpful instructional information out there on “how to” this and that, but I definitely stay creative, intuitive, and improvisational with my approach.  I make up songs for her, I help her move her body in an integrated way, I offer her different colors and have her choose, I read poetry to her, I help her impersonate Chris Farley in her sleep sack.

Has your relationship to your body changed?  

Entirely!  I loved, loved being pregnant!!  For the first time it seemed like my body served a divine purpose and was really important and capable just the way it was.  It was also the first time I didn’t feel like I had to push myself so hard to my physical and emotional limit. 

What I teach as a yogi is to be compassionate to your Self and to avoid the ego driven effort to overdo it physically in order to “achieve” poses at the sacrifice of what’s truly best for the health of your body.  I was amazed to realize that I never completely practiced this!  Once I was committed entirely to the health and wellbeing of my body for the baby, I couldn’t care less about “achieving”.  I went from ‘trying hard’ to ‘trying easy’ and I am definitely going to keep that way of being alive as long as possible. 

My postpartum body has offered a brand new outlook too.  Where before I may have stared at places of my body that I thought were out of shape and felt bad I wasn’t working out more or something; now I feel really proud and confident for the reasons my body has changed.  It’s proof I’m a mommy. I have never been so proud in my life than I do now as my daughter’s mama.

Piece of advice you want to pass on to other new moms?  To new mom dancers?  
To other new moms: You are the best mother your baby has ever had!  

To new mom dancers including myself I say: dance with your baby AND get out there and dance!!!  Take class and teach class.  No need to wait until you look a certain way again, or get back to the apex of your technique proficiency.  Let’s take the dance world by storm together and increase the body experience in the prototypical dancing body.   Oh, and also tell your baby how beautiful their body is with your words and touch, so that they can inhabit their adult bodies with confidence, passion, and prowess.

To visit more with Amanda,  check out her yogi-site, and stay for some of her exciting choreography here:

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