Take a look at our article to learn everything about baby yoga for moms and babies and to read the views of experts.
Between getting to know and caring for a new baby, the last thing on a new mom’s mind may be exercise. But instructors of a gentle form of yoga that incorporates the baby into the exercises say it’s the perfect way for a mom to connect with her baby while easing back into a fitness regime.
Hilda Washber, a 39-year-old yoga teacher and mother of 10-month-old Shane, heard about the class from a friend. The two started taking a Baby and Mom yoga class in New York City called “BabyOm” when Shane was 3 months old. “It was a way I knew I could get in a little yoga, while exposing it to him also,” she says.
Washber felt it not only provided physical exercise for both, but also helped encourage the two to bond. “Everything that you do with your baby helps you bond with him,” she says.
According to Helen Garabedian, who teaches a class called “Baby-Yoga with Helen” in Boston, Mass., the word yoga means “to unite,” and this form of yoga can do just that for the mom and baby.
DeAnsin Goodson Parker, author of Yogababy: Exercises to Help You Bond With Your Baby Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually, agrees. “So many mothers don’t know how to bond with their babies,” she says. “They do need instruction. It’s not innate for everyone to learn how to bond with another person. The kind of bond developed in a yogic session is extraordinary.”
A Typical Class
While Baby and Mom yoga classes vary in their intensity, focus and length, most incorporate exercises for both the baby, the mom and some the two can do together.
They typically last from 45 minutes to just over an hour. Most classes are divided by age, usually separating crawlers and walkers up to age 2 from those less mobile.
A class usually consists of a series of postures or poses that are held for varying lengths of time according to the mom’s needs. Classes may start with a chant, relaxation or breathing exercises for moms followed by a warm-up where babies lay on the floor on a blanket or in the mom’s arms.
In “BabyOm” classes, developed by former dancers Laura Staton and Sarah Perron in New York City, also the authors of Baby Om: Yoga for Mothers and Babies, instructors begin the class by saying three “oms.” Washber says the sound calms the babies. “Shane just looked right up at me and just smiled,” she says. “It’s really sweet that that sound can affect all the babies in the room.”
After the warm-up, moms usually concentrate on their babies by doing baby massage or gentle exercises such as straightening and moving the arms, legs, hands and feet. Next, the class may move to poses for Mom that address specific postpartum needs like rounded shoulders, a weakened pelvic floor and fatigue. “They have physically a new body and it’s hard to know what to do with that,” says Perron.
Following the postures for the mom are often postures for both the mom and the baby where babies are placed on the mom’s thighs, knees, shins or in her arms, depending on the pose. Classes usually conclude with a brief meditation or relaxation.
Why should you make time for Baby and Mom yoga in your already busy life? Instructors say the benefits to both the mom and her baby are many.
Bridget Patters of Shrewsbury, Mass., a 35-year-old mom who has attended “Baby-Yoga with Helen” classes with her 10-month-old son Matthew, says that initially she most enjoyed the camaraderie with other mothers. “The best part in the beginning was just being with all the other new moms and talking about the problems we were having,” she says. “Helen would give us ideas of positions we could do to relieve [the problems].” Matthew, she says, also quickly took to the class. “We’d get there and he would just instantly relax,” says Patters. “Each week he would become more and more familiar.”
Parker says this is a typical reaction. While you might expect your baby to be confused at first, she says, they usually get with it fairly quickly and by the second time are anticipating movement. For example, for older babies who may be walking, Garabedian practices a pose called Downward Facing Dog, much like the stretch dogs often do upon waking. Babies become so familiar says Garabedian that, “We say Down Dog and babies move into it.” One mother reported that it was the only thing her 1-year-old would do that she asked him to do.
Doing yoga also helps babies with their digestion, stimulates their immune system, teaches them to soothe themselves and improves circulation and sleep, says Parker. “Moms report when they take the baby home, they are more settled and have less colic,” she says. Moms can also expect their baby to be asleep by the end or soon after class.
Yoga doesn’t just help the baby – besides toning areas affected by pregnancy and childbirth, Baby and Mom yoga offers moms a wide range of benefits. Garabedian says that her classes help moms reduce stress, increase their confidence in parenting, decrease anxiety and promote intuitive parenting. Parker adds other benefits such as improving alignment, increasing mental clarity and creating an overall sense of well-being.
And these benefits are not just for biological moms – instructors say that they have had adoptive moms, dads, grandparents, caregivers and same-sex couples all attend their classes. Doing yoga with the baby can help them develop the bond that the mom already has a head start on, says Staton. Garabedian agrees. “So many moms tell me that they go home and show their husband some moves and techniques and it gives the husband a way to feel connected to the baby,” she says.
Whether it just helps you and your baby giggle after a long, hard day or whether it truly creates a special bond between babies and their caregivers, instructors say it’s worth trying. According to Yoga Journal, more than 18 million people now practice and proclaim the benefits of yoga. Why shouldn’t we include our newest generation?
Our articles are prepared to give advice. You should consult your doctor for exact information.