Anna Getty’s passion for living a conscious and eco-friendly existence affects every role that she has taken on: Yoga teacher, environmental advocate, and most recently, mother.
Here she shares her personal wisdom on creating a healthy, green, and connected life.
The Cradle: How would you define conscious parenting?
Anna: For me, conscious parenting is staying attuned to your child, being really open and in the moment. It means staying as present as possible in your own breath for the betterment of your whole family.
Parenting is not just about you and your kid; it’s also about whomever you’re parenting your child with. So there is a kind of “awareness” involved for everybody. It’s all about the way you interact with your child and participate in your child’s life. When you find a way to be really receptive to your child’s needs and really listen, you can be more open to what they say they want or what they say they need.
In terms of conscious parenting, one of the greatest things I learned is from RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers): Slow down, stop and listen, and take time to respond and be present.
The Cradle: Implementing a green lifestyle can seem overwhelming. What are some simple steps new parents can take to get ready for baby?
Anna: The first thing I did was get rid of the toxic cleaning products in my house. Nowadays, especially on Healthy Child Healthy World, we have so much information about these carcinogenic products. So the first step is easy—just get them out of the house. Do some research on the products you’re using and what healthy alternatives are available.
Secondly, eat organic. And find alternatives to diapers that are made with toxic chemicals. You do not want that against your baby’s skin. Nowadays there are so many [alternatives] like G Diapers, which are totally biodegradable. Whole Foods even has their own non-chlorinated diapers that are made in a non-toxic way without chemicals (and they’re cheaper than Seventh Generation). Also, there are many organic [cloth] diapers available on line now, which you can wash at home, [or use] diaper services.
As for the toxic diapers—you’ve got to really think about what touches your baby skin. Most people know that bleach is toxic, so find an alternative.
You want to create the healthiest environment possible. For some people, that means doing whatever it takes. For others, it means taking baby steps and working their way into it.
The Cradle: When a woman is trying to conceive, what mind, body, and health changes do you recommend?
Anna: This is subject very near and dear to me. Before I got pregnant, I thought, “What could I do to prepare myself for this?” I took a year to plan for my wedding, and I think that getting pregnant (or the day you find out you’re pregnant) is as large a moment in your life as the day you get married. So, after hearing about so many women having trouble conceiving, I chose to do a one-year detox program. For me it was like a science project. I did colonics, Chinese herbs, homeopathic remedies, I was eating 90percent raw… and I got pregnant [without any trouble]. Basically, I created this environment that was like, “Come, baby, come!”
I think some fundamental things to do are: eliminate caffeine from your diet, don’t drink alcohol, and stop eating refined sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, put honey in your tea, and use Xylitol in your baked goods—it’s completely non-toxic, doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels at all, and it’s easily digestible.
Eat really wholesome, organic, non-processed foods. Try taking yoga classes and [take time to] sit still. Start on a mental level and create space for welcoming in your baby. I think it’s a great idea for all women who are considering getting pregnant to create this kind of healthy environment. If you do it before hand, you’ll have a healthier pregnancy, and a healthier baby… it’s like a ripple effect.
So lay off the coffee and the wine until your baby is born. Because even on a cellular level, things are happening in your body that affect your baby from the moment you conceive.
The Cradle: Name three things you believe a woman should do during her pregnancy to create a healthy, eco-friendly nine months.
Anna: If at all possible, get a point-of-entry water filtration system. They are expensive, so not everyone can do it. At the very least, get a filter for your shower or your kitchen. And stop buying water in plastic bottles. Instead, try the Sigg bottles, Klean Kanteen, or any kind of non-leaching plastic bottles. Or better yet, try to find glass bottles.
Secondly, look into the products that you put on your body. Do not use anything with parabens. Parabens [are preservatives that] are endocrine disrupters—they disrupt your hormones and your baby’s hormones. They are found in a wide variety of personal care products, like soap and shampoo.
Also, stop putting nail polish on your fingers—or find nail polishes without formaldehyde. And stop dying your hair.
Thirdly, eat a whole food diet that’s high in protein, and include a lot of greens (which I know is hard for many moms to stomach). One thing I like to do is put greens in my smoothie—I mix bananas, strawberries, apples and a handful of lettuce, and don’t even notice [the greens].
The Cradle: Tell us about your prenatal and postnatal yoga.
Anna: I focus on prenatal yoga, but I just came out with a postnatal DVD as well. They both have benefits. Prenatal yoga is really about connecting to your changing body. For every woman, the bodily changes are a challenge. When you do yoga, you start cultivating a place of acceptance and surrender with the idea that your growing body is benefiting the growth of your baby. Keeping your eyes closed during yoga helps promote this inner awareness by literally visualizing your baby inside you and connecting to him or her through your breath.
Postnatal yoga is about reconnecting with your body and its former self (the body formerly known as your pre-baby body!). No matter what kind of birth you have, your abdomen becomes like a soft pillow. So postnatal yoga helps you to reconnect with your abdomen and slowly build your strength back.
One of the reasons I developed this DVD came out of thinking, “I don’t have an hour and a half a day anymore to do my yoga practice. I don’t even have a half hour!” But I do have 10 to 15 minutes. I believe that every mom, even if you have two children, has 10-15 minutes where you can take the time to do a short session. And if you do that, even five days a week, you’ll connect to your body in a totally different way.
The Cradle: Is that what you offer on your DVD?
Anna: Yes. It’s nine 10 to 15 minute segments. Of course we recommend waiting six to nine weeks postpartum before you start, and to do each set one at a time. It’s all about finding a way that works for you. And I think that’s ultimately a way of saving your sanity—by making sure you have those 15 minutes a day for yourself.
The Cradle: If someone has never done yoga before, is it still safe to do prenatal yoga?
Anna: Absolutely—especially with the prenatal yoga that we’ve developed (unless your doctor says you should not be doing any exercise). Most of the moms that come in [to my class] have never done yoga before. It’s not power yoga—it’s about nurturing yourself.
But now that I’ve created a double disk set, you can start doing it when you’re pregnant and it will take you through 18 months of yoga. Plus, there are interviews with Dr. Alan Greene and a nutritionist, and a booklet for both prenatal and postnatal nutrition guidelines.
The Cradle: What advice do you offer to women who feel overwhelmed and out of balance with their new life with baby?
Anna: Know that you don’t have to do this alone. Talk to your neighbors and friends, and have them bring you food—especially during the first six weeks. Create a community. Having a support system can help you feel more balanced.
And when your baby is napping, nap! Rest as much as you can. Know that you don’t have to do it all—even if you think you want to. You have to take care of yourself.
The Cradle: How has motherhood changed or affected your outlook on life?
Anna: There’s a duality that emerges. On the one hand, I’ve become more of a neurotic mess and I think about more things. I definitely don’t watch the news anymore because I’m way more emotionally affected by stories when I hear them. And I’m constantly obsessed with my child’s safety.
On the other hand, I’ve learned to completely surrender and be more accepting by saying, “I can be here and do my best for my child. But at the end of the day, this is her life, her karma, her process.” I can’t control her, I can just guide her. So at the same time, I’m much more laid back. I’m in the present more. I want to be here with my daughter and really experience the moment.
Becoming a mother has been the best thing ever for me. It’s become my life’s work. Not just parenting, but sharing information and encouraging other women to be receptive to the basic nature of motherhood.
The Cradle: What are your greatest hopes for your child?
Anna: I want her to be happy. I want her to feel that she has a foundation on which to operate her life in a very comfortable, flowing, happy, centered way.
The Cradle: Finally, what are some things that we, as parents, can do today to help protect our children’s future?
Anna: Live by example … I think that’s the most important thing.
The views expressed in this interview do not necessarily reflect those of TheCradle. Consult with your physician or health care professional before following any of the advice contained in this article.
Photo courtesy of TheCradle