Baby Yoga: tips for beginners

There are those who advocate time to yourself when you’ve had a baby. Resume your activities and spend time away from baby as soon as you feel comfortable. Take up that class you’ve always wanted to while you’re on maternity leave. Make the most of your babysitters when they offer to watch baby. And there are those who advocate brining baby along with you, no matter what you’re doing. For some new mums, the latter is the only option when it comes to getting stuff done, and these days there are plenty mum and baby groups you can go along too, so the second option starts to become slightly more realistic all round. One such activity is yoga. If this is something you enjoyed during pregnancy or before you were expecting, once your doctor deems you fit enough, its something that you can resume quite easily postnatally. And yes, baby can come too. Here’s a quick guide baby yoga: tips for beginners.

What is baby yoga?

Baby yoga is actually very different to the yoga that you may have been practising as an adult. It’s more of an activity which encourages interaction and communication between parent and child. It incorporates movement and relaxation into a relaxed, informal and playful situation, drawing on many principles of baby massage. The power of touch is, once again, a key feature and an essential part of encouraging that bonding process between baby and child.

Experts believe that baby yoga helps parents to become attuned to their baby’s needs and more able to calm them as and when it’s needed- by providing a sense of security and wellbeing essential to normal emotional development. Likewise, parents who practise baby yoga with their infants are also more able to recognise when baby needs stimulation and many believe their relationship with baby is strengthened thanks to baby yoga too.

Baby yoga incorporates the following:

• Gentle body strokes
• Specially adapted yoga moves
• Postnatal yoga moves for mum
• Playful moves with songs and rhymes
• Parent and baby relaxation
• Developmental practises- holding head up, rolling over etc

How to get started

You don’t need to know much about yoga itself to get started, but it helps to know the basic principles behind it all. Yoga is all about exercise, relaxation, breathing and meditation. Now why would you not want to pass on those principles to your baby? Here are some tips for getting started.

• Speak to your health visitor or local children’s centre for details on a class locally
• Go along to a class and speak to the instructor before you commit to classes. Ask if you can watch part of a class, or if there is any information you can take away
• Research online

Once you have your class, or you feel you want to try at home, make sure that you time it right with baby. As with baby massage, you don’t need any specialist equipment as such (a mat is useful) , but you do want to make sure that baby is happy, alert and open to new experiences. So if she is tired or unwell, postpone your session for now.

Outside of your class, there are basic baby yoga poses that you can practise at home. Here are three easy moves you can do with baby:

Downward dog

One of our favourite poses! Lie baby gently on your mat and whilst in downward dog position, gently lean down to kiss her, bending your elbows wide. This is great for core strength for you, and interaction for baby. As you exhale, return to dog pose and repeat as many times as you’re able. What a fun game!

‘Flying’

A favourite game! Lie on the floor, on your mat, and position baby securely on your shins. Gently bounce her, as if she is flying. When you’re feeling braver, start to straighten out your legs, and bounce baby up and down. You can sing a song to her as she flies.

Handstands

Your baby is going to love this! Having spent most of her time in the womb upside down, what’s not to love about a headstand? Headstands bring more blood to the brain and sends signals to the nervous system that tell the body to calm down and relax. This helps to fight fear and anxiety and instills confidence, strength and coordination too.

Make sure your baby can see you, and that you are in a safe space. Use a mat for cushioning and a wall for extra safety and support. Sit with your knees bent, with baby lying back on you. Hold on to her ankles and allow her lie back. For older babies, lie her down on the mat and lift her legs. Lots of praise is essential here, and make it fun too. Simple rhymes and lots of smiles will reassure and help her enjoy the headstand even more.

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