Simply put, Baby Yoga mixes physical touch with emotional connection and movement giving your baby that same feeling of wellbeing that adults get after exercise.
It is a wonderful way to bond with your little one, using meaningful touch and play to communicate and taking it one step further, developing moves to help your little one as they start to progress and move in different ways. Even 5-10 minutes at a time you will bring the benefits.
You will also learn some fantastic techniques to bond and communicate with your baby. One of the main frustrations of being a new parent is there can be a lot of things you don’t understand about communicating with your baby because you don’t know each other very well at the beginning! By maintaining eye contact and working with your baby in this very intimate way, it can help you understand how to communicate with your new baby better.
Many people are perplexed as to how a baby can do yoga – which is understandable! Lets start at the beginning with
What is Yoga?
- Most people know that yoga uses physical postures (Asanas), Breath – (Pranayama) and relaxation (Sivasana), but also proper diet (ideally vegetarian) and Positive thinking and meditation (Vedanta and Dhyana) to induce a state of wellbeing.
Using physical postures to stretch out the body and release areas of tension and blockages, we can restore energetic flow (Prana) and increase resistance to fatigue and disease. Using breathing exercises this also helps ease stress and restore the energetic function.
Relaxation at the end enables the physiological benefits to take place.
The very process of focusing on the postures and breath, is a mindful practice and helps to create positive thinking; and ability to deal with change through acceptance.
Although a baby cannot consciously put themselves into Asanas, (the physical postures), they experience the same benefits as an adult practicing yoga. In fact babies are born natural yogis – they are already ‘in the moment’, flexible, and breathing deeply and fully.
Will parents do yoga too?
The good news is that a parent practicing baby yoga with their baby also experiences the same benefits; as Yoga incorporates mindfulness this is enhanced in baby yoga as parents are focusing on their baby and nothing else which can be rare bonding and relaxing moment in the fast paced age we are living in. As well as the bonding benefit, parents could also benefit from the physical aspect of it by incorporating yoga stretches for themselves for example by mimicking the movements of your little one by doing the star, the cat or the cycling on a larger scale. This could help aid adult digestion in the same way it helps your baby’s digestion. Finally the relaxation at the end can help parents relax and eject from their daily pressures and worries and just enjoy precious one-on-one time with their baby.
Can baby yoga aid the development of my baby?
Babies bodies are flexible and just like adults, they too can benefit from and enjoy stimulating touch, movements and the relaxation that yoga offers. It is important that a baby has the opportunity to experience the world from many different dimensions, including facing forwards, backwards, upwards and downwards. All of these dimensions can be found in the yoga routine. Baby yoga allows parents to be involved in this process, as the exercises they carry out with their baby are designed to support the development of balance and co-ordination. The more the baby moves, the easier it is for them to control their movements.
A baby doing baby yoga will experience
- gross motor movements – the large movements such as stretching the arms up which are important for physical development,
- fine motor movement – holding a prop – important for writing,
in addition to more complex co-ordination movements such as
- reciprocal integration – like cycling the legs (both sides of the body are doing the same thing)
- bi-lateral integration such as waving a hand, (where each side of the body is doing something different) a developmental step towards writing.
At Children Inspired by Yoga, we use a multi-sensory approach to yoga. This means using music, storytelling, movement and props to work with the baby, maintaining them in the ‘just right’ state for learning. That is not over stimulated, nor under-stimulated. Using the senses in this way has many benefits. We not only use the visual sense via props, the auditory sense with music and singing, touch with the mothers input, but also, 2 internal senses – vestibular – your sense of balance (which can be alerting) ie jumping up and down, and proprioception (very soothing) which is your sense of how and where your body is in space ie cuddling.
The important thing is that when you do baby yoga with your baby, you very much focus on what you baby is communicating to you as you work with them. Obviously they can’t speak so their communication is non verbal. Maintaining eye contact is crucial to establishing that your baby is enjoying the practice. Never push through resistance, and stop if you baby isn’t enjoying it.
Baby Yoga moves are designed for certain stages of your baby’s development. In some areas you baby may be slower to develop, in others, faster. It doesn’t matter, the important thing is to be safe, and be aware of things like head control and core development. This is why initially it’s a good idea to go to a qualified baby yoga instructor who can make sure you are safely handling your baby and going at the pace that’s best for them.
Give baby yoga a try and see for yourself if this ‘holistic’ practice yields benefits for your both, I hope you really gain as much from it as I did with my baby.