One of the added bonuses of meeting so many lovely pregnant mama’s through our prenatal yoga classes is the joy of meeting their babies when they join us again in the Mummy & Me Yoga class.
We all know that yoga is amazing for adults, and postpartum for mothers, but did you know there are many benefits for your baby as well?
Babies benefit from movements that strengthen and stretch their muscles, relieving them of tension and increasing relaxation. The benefits of relaxation are well known, ranging from improved sleep, to better digestion.
Practicing yoga with your baby needs to be done with care and responsiveness to your baby’s cues. Choose yoga postures that seem best suited to you and your baby. From the very first touch your baby should feel like they are at the center of all the movements, which are best accompanied by song, and a relaxed atmosphere.
Here are just some of the benefits of yoga for your baby:
You can become more attuned to your baby’s wants and needs. Your baby’s physical development requires times of unfettered expression and times of peaceful stillness. Yoga brings both these qualities to physical movements.
Slowing down and noticing your baby’s responses to the yoga postures and giving them time to respond and cue for more or less activity helps build your sensitivity to their needs. Your baby will notice the congruency between your actions and their needs, thus enhancing their sense of trust.
By playing with your child, physical contact, affectionate words, singing and encouragement, your relationship with your child will be deepened and enriched.
Growth and developmental benefits
You can be involved with your baby’s physical development by helping them learn in a playful and safe environment. You can help them tone up their muscles, develop correct posture, encourage and anticipate their search for balance. You can prepare your baby first to master the sitting position, and then for standing upright.
When your baby does tummy time, it will improve their upper body and neck strength. In the beginning, your baby may find tummy time stressful until they build up their strength. You can assist them by applying gentle massage strokes along their spine to encourage body awareness to the activity. They sense your touch, and will raise their head as the spine contracts. This mind-body connection creates positive activity in the part of the brain that maps the body.
Taking 10-15mins of your day to move your baby through different positions (yoga postures) will over time increase strength and development. It is important you do not hurry or force your baby, and instead simply follow their natural inclinations. By adding in a short baby yoga sequence each day, you will be happily surprised with the results.
Touching your baby and soothing their tensions with physical contact like massage can be helpful to switch off the stress response which can become overly active in a young baby. Stimulating the skin will slow down the production of stress hormones and help increase the relaxation hormones. Your baby will digest their milk much better when they are in a state of relaxation, feeling safe and peaceful.Yoga postures, known as the wind releasing sequence (ie. bringing your baby’s knees to their chest and circling gently in a clock wise direction) can help activate their digestion and reduce symptoms of colic.
Practicing baby yoga will not over stimulate your baby, but instead give your baby confidence in themselves as they have gained confidence in their bodies.
Care is to be taken when practicing yoga with your baby. For young babies up to four months, introduce smaller and slower movements based on relaxation. Arm and leg movements prepare your baby for rolling over.
Up to four months, relaxation is important, as your baby’s body is very stiff with their arms and legs bent, and their fists clenched. After the exercises, your baby’s limbs will loosen up and your baby will sleep better. Keep in mind that babies do not have adequate control of their heads until about 6 months of age so make sure you support your baby’s head with your hands during active yoga movements.
For older babies up to nine months, it is a period of introducing acrobatic movements and strengthening exercises to prepare for sitting and crawling. About 5% of babies have hypermobile or tight joints, so overstretching is a risk for these children. Avoid moving your baby’s limbs into extreme extensions and the activity should be performed for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Most of all, enjoy your baby’s excitement of having your sole attention.
I look forward to meeting you in our yogababy Mummy & Me yoga classes held weekly at our Auchenflower, Chermside and West End studios.