We all know babies are natural Yogis, so it makes sense to help them enjoy this ancient practice. But the focus of baby yoga is on gentle stimulation and bonding between parent and bub – not exercise.
Baby yoga is essentially about you and your baby connecting with one another, learning to develop trust and confidence and of course, having fun!
In today’s world babies are snuggled and cuddled and wrapped and strapped. They don’t often get the chance to stretch out and discover what their bodies can do.
With regular practice the moves can help increase your baby’s immunity, encourage deep and restful sleep, improve digestion and circulation and help with movement, strength and agility.
Mums will find their confidence handling their baby will also improve and it helps promote the feel-good hormones, such as Oxytocin – strengthening that emotional bond they have with their child.
What is baby yoga?
Baby yoga is a series of movements which are done by the parent or caregiver to the baby. The parent guides the baby in these moves while chatting or singing to the baby.
It is very important to maintain eye contact with your baby throughout the practice and continue to notice their cues – to ensure they are enjoying this time and connecting with you. If your baby does seem unhappy (see disengagement cues) then stop and resume the session another time.
The moves take around 10 – 15 minutes to complete and the best age to start is from three months. (Before this age, it’s a great idea to enrol in an infant massage class and learn to massage your baby).
Signs your baby is enjoying the yoga session include (engagement cues):
* Eye contact
* Cooing/ gurgling/ laughing
* Raising eyebrows
* Moving towards you.
Signs your baby is not enjoying the session include (disengagement cues):
* Looking away or closing eyes
* Arching back
* Pulling away from you.
What you will need:
It’s best to practice in a dimly lit room as babies are sensitive to light. Ensure the area is clean and warm. You may wish to play soft, restful music.
For baby: a padded mat, blanket
For you: a mat, blanket
When you are ready to begin, lay your baby in front of you so you can have eye contact at all times. You should sit with legs in a v-shape or cross-legged and make sure your spine is straight.
Take a few moments to centre yourself chant three oms with your hand on your baby’s heart centre and your other hand on your heart centre. Now look at your baby – notice what mood your baby is in. How is her body reacting? Are her hands scrunched into fists, does she stretch out her legs?
Explain to your baby that you are about to practice yoga and then help your baby through a guided relaxation. Gently touching and holding each body part as we relax and release.
As you work through the movements, you will begin to notice your baby’s body language and learn to recognise the subtle (and not so subtle!) signs they give to tell you how they are feeling and you’ll also find that this practice is something special that you can both share and enjoy.
If you would like to practice baby yoga please check out my DVD: Yoga for Mums ‘n’ bubs – available here