“Babies don’t need yoga. They’re fine the way they are,” was the comment made in my presence by another yoga teacher not that long ago. I totally agree, I also wholeheartedly advocate for and teach mom & baby classes.
The poses and moves we do in class are developmentally supportive – meaning they are largely movements that baby will discover and practice on their own. Many parents report that their babies independently come into yoga poses such as downward facing dog, plank, cobra, and more. Itsy Bitsy Yoga creator Helen Garabedian explains:Babies are often described as natural yogis because they are so naturally “in the moment.” As parents, on the other hand, we spend much of the time we have with our infants thinking about everything but the present moment. Household chores, grocery shopping, caring for older children, commuting to and from work, and even working from home are among the necessities of modern life. Baby yoga class is a designated hour each week to focus on simply being with our child.
“From birth, babies instinctively draw their knees up toward their chest as if trying to come into knees-to-chest pose (apanasana). The infant’s digestive system is sometimes underdeveloped at birth, and apanasana aids in digestion and relieves gas discomfort.
Sphinx pose helps the four-month-old lengthen the spine, energize the organs, and tone the upper body. Sphinx pose is a necessary precursor to weight-shifting and one-hand play as a baby rests on her tummy. As the five- or six-month-old baby is beginning to lift the head and torso to higher elevations, sphinx pose evolves into cobra pose (bhujangasana). Postures practiced on the tummy strengthen the muscles and connections needed for crawling and may help prevent future lower back pain.
As babies become mobile and work toward crawling, they move through more of the poses adults do on the yoga mat.
Downward-facing dog (adhomukha-shvanasana) is first practiced before a baby starts to crawl, and later is a favorite pose of one-year-olds. Developmentally, downward-facing dog helps connect a baby’s upper and lower body. After crawling is integrated into a baby’s movement repertoire, a baby may begin to walk in downward-facing dog (or bear walk.) This helps an experienced crawler get a feel for moving through space at a higher level than crawling, but at a lower level than walking.”
The wonderful thing about a baby yoga class is that we, as parents and caregivers, get to experience exploring these natural movements with them.
After I returned to full-time work at the office, my husband took over in yoga class and our experience is why I encourage moms to bring their partners to class or teach what they’ve learned to dad or other caregivers. When multiple caregivers know the same poses and songs, they become like a shared language and help parents meet one of their baby’s most fundamental needs: the need to communicate and connect with us.When my own daughter was an infant, yoga class was one of the highlights of my week for many of the same reasons the moms in my classes love it. It was a break from my day where I was encouraged to simply get to know my baby, connect with other parents, relax and let go, and even learn a little bit about child development.
When multiple caregivers know the same poses and songs, they become like a shared language and help parents meet one of their baby’s most fundamental needs: the need to communicate and connect with us.
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photo credits, creative commons license 2012:
– Smiling Child’s Pose by flickr user lululemon athletica
– Baby in downward facing dog pose by flickr user kourtlynlott
– Baby yogi takes pachimotansana variation by flickr user cianc (kidding, he may need rescue)