Carlee Benear is a stay-at-home mom to her three kids, ages 6, 4 and 18, who also happens to be an expert yogi. So expert, in fact, that she can breastfeed at the same time — something for which she's taken a lot of heat on social media.
Benear told Metro that she suffered from postpartum depression after having her second child and took up yoga in hopes that it would help with her mental health. She says the practice has helped her tremendously and transformed her experience as a mom.
"Breastfeeding yoga has helped me combat postpartum depression and has made my breastfeeding journey free of any bumps in the road," the Texas-based mom told the publication. "[Like] mastitis, worry of lacking in supply, getting over those first few weeks of tenderness, let down control and the stresses of being needed around the clock – to name a few."
Benear began documenting her yoga journey on her popular Instagram account. Her three kids are also often pictured showing off their own skills and flexibility.
She still regularly breastfeeds her 4-year-old and often posts pictures of her doing so while striking complex yoga poses. While many of her followers stand impressed by her crazy amounts of technique and dedication, others send a lot of hate her way, saying the posts are "ridiculous" and "inappropriate."
"I'm still confused as to why you think you're so special because you breast feed a 3 year old and do yoga?" one person wrote.
A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. “I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?” “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.” “Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.” “Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold. I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself. Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now Pants by @mindfulbohemian Machine washable mat by @yellow.willow.yoga
"This is not appropriate. I understand that she is breastfeeding her child and that's alright but number one, she is constantly posting about it online on a website that doesn't allow this, and number two, this child is at an age that her mother should have stopped lactating so I'm assuming she is forcing her child to suck on her boob," another said.
Some implied that her breastfeeding yoga poses are a danger to her child.
"My only concern is what if you ever lose balance? I would be terrified of hurting my child..." one person wrote.
Others see the beauty in Benear's work.
"You are truly amazing! Such beauty and confidence in your yoga love with your child," someone said.
"This is one of theist beautiful things I've ever seen!" wrote another.
Benear told Metro that she doesn't take the criticism to heart.
"As far as breastfeeding yoga goes, anyone who has breastfed knows that it is a 24/7 dedication," she said. "I believe as parents it is our duty to make that time for our self because we cannot pour from an empty cup."
She said that she views nasty comments as a "cry for help." She plans on continuing to spread her message because "no one should be ashamed of feeding their children or teaching their children however they feel called to."