Everyone loves yoga – what’s not to love? Stretching and toning, building strength, developing balance, and yoking mind and body together with breath to create a sense of deep peace. Yoga gives you peace of mind while you get your workout – pretty awesome. Why not yoga for babies?
Yoga: A Quick Primer
Because babies can’t develop awareness the way yoga asks you too. Yoga classes might look like Stretch and Tone with some incense burning, but they’re not. The most fundamental concept in yoga, long before you unroll a mat or buy a pair of lululemon yoga pants, is that you are focusing, concentrating and deepening your awareness: of yourself, of your breath, of the universe, of all that is. A totally awesome yoga class takes you on a journey into yourself, using the body as a way to get there perhaps, but it isn’t about the body. Yup, newsflash: yoga isn’t just physical. At the end of class, when you lie still in savasana, if the teacher has done a good job, you will feel like you are astrally traveling, or having an enlightening experience. That’s what yoga is all about – growing, quieting your mind, experiencing yourself in silence and deep peace. And getting a fantastic yoga butt while you do so!
Babies are already there. Their world is an awesome psychedelic experience, and they are just getting to explore and understand it, one toe in their mouth at a time. For a new parent, forget baby yoga – just do everything your baby does for an hour and you’ll understand why baby yoga seems like a fad gone overboard. Babies are working out and working it out all the time.
They are actively exploring their world – including their own bodies and the limitations of those bodies – all the time. They do amazing things, like learning to crawl. Try lifting yourself up and crawling without using your core or your legs: pretty darn tough. Babies are engaged in stretch and strengthen exercises pretty much whenever they aren’t sleeping. They don’t need to “do yoga” – they could teach the class! And as far as focusing on their breath and quieting their mind? Developmentally speaking, their minds should be active – they need to catch up and catch on to the world around them, so a bright and active mind is exactly what you want form your baby. When it’s time for them to de-stress and chill out, they sleep. Nature’s ultimate de-stress activity!
What’s the Yoga-Loving Mom to do?
But you love yoga and it is so much fun. How can you share this great aspect of your life with your baby, and still honor that your baby is, well, a baby? Massage! Touch your baby. Use gentle, easy strokes and help your baby try very gentle playful movements, like “bicycling” her legs or “flapping” his arms. Follow your baby’s lead – what sort of movements seem to be what he or she wants to do? Do them together, letting your baby’s natural interest and effort lead the way. Snuggle with your baby after your yoga class, and allow your calm, blissed out energy to be one of the ways your baby gets to know you. Enjoy whatever your baby brings to the snuggle – if the energy is fussy, be with that. If the energy is playful, be with that. It's all about connecting with your baby. In other words, take your yoga practice into your parenting practice and let the peace and joy that is at the heart of yoga be a part of your relationship with your baby. You both will benefit!