How to Introduce Your Baby to Yoga
This time last year, Riley and I had just started our "Mommy & Me" Thursday outings after a looong fall/winter hibernation. Our first adventure was a six-week “Itsy Bitsy Yoga” class at Flow Yoga Center, which was a wonderfully Zen-filled experience for both of us. Riley had just turned five months old; it was her first time around other babies; and she was mesmerized by the new faces, songs and baby-friendly poses. I loved seeing her so happy and free in the same space where I went for pre-natal yoga while she was still growing in my belly. And yes, I also chose the class for the benefits that I knew it would give me--a totally relaxed atmosphere where mommies (especially new mommies) could get a little extra love too:-)
Photo: Riley striking her best yoga pose at home!
If you're wondering how you can become a yoga mom (or dad:-) too, load up on the good stuff below written by yoga expert and my personal TCM (“Taking Care of Mommy”) guru, Kelly Newsome, RYT of Higher Ground Yogaand Ritual Care Co. Each week, Kelly shares great FREE content on taking care of your best asset--YOU--so please return the love by visiting her website!
Riche: What are the benefits of introducing your baby to yoga?
Kelly: When you introduce yoga to your baby, you're introducing gentle movement, soothing touch, rhythmic sounds and close contact between parent and baby. It's a brilliant way to connect with your little one, and as (s)he gets older, yoga also encourages muscle memory, hand-eye coordination, cognitive functioning and social interaction skills. Many parents report that their babies sleep more restfully and have smoother digestion.
One of my favorite benefits, though, is that yoga can assist kids (of all ages) with stress management! The practice can help babies release the tension that builds in their little bodies, minds and hearts as a result of birth and acclimating to this new, big stimulating world.
Riche: How early can/should you introduce your baby to yoga?
Kelly: If you're going to a parent-baby yoga glass, it really depends on the provider (meaning studio and teacher). There are many names for these kinds of classes--from the more generic "Mommy & Me" or "Postnatal Yoga" to the specific brands, like "Itsy Bitsy Yoga®." Often, studios ask moms to wait until their babies are 2-6 weeks old, usually to encourage postnatal healing and some serious parent-baby time at home.
That said, some teachers invite parents to begin yoga with their little ones from birth. This is what I do in my practice with my postnatal private clients, for instance. Of course, your 1-week old won't be doing "Downward Dog," but some poses--especially those that blend yoga and infant massage--are ideal. You can always use books to guide your budding parent-baby yoga practice, too! Some of my favorites are "Baby Om: Yoga for Mothers and Babies" by Laura Staton, "Itsy Bitsy Yoga" by Helen Garabedian and "Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby" by Jyothi Larson.
Riche: What can you expect during a yoga class for babies?
Kelly: Again, it depends on the class. Generally though, classes will include a "round circle" style introduction of parent and baby, followed by a gentle warm-up and a series of baby yoga poses assisted by mama or papa. The poses might involve stretching, stillness and soft touch. Teachers usually play soft music with songs and guide parents through sing-a-long song lyrics as they serenade their little ones (babies love music, and often remember the tunes--parents use them later when babies are stressed!). Some classes also focus on breathing techniques for parents. This is an integral part of my work with private clients, for instance. We focus a lot on the parents' energy and learning how it can affect the baby's mood and surrounding space.
Riche: Do moms/dads get to practice any yoga during the class or do the babies have all the fun?
Kelly: Can you guess the answer?! It depends! Most classes like "Mommy & Me" have a strong focus on baby, and will offer less practice for adult-oriented yoga postures, but they may include some. For example, you will probably enjoy chest openers (great for breast-feeding moms or parents who are always cradling baby), hip stretches (lovely for postnatal healing and tension release) and gentle twists (which assist with digestion and deeper, more effective breathing). You might also find that your teacher incorporates your baby into the poses, as your little partner!
Riche: What should you bring to your first class?
Kelly: Honestly, you and your baby--those are the two essential pieces. Otherwise, here are a few dos and dont's:
- Do wear comfy clothes! There is no award for postnatal mamas who wear tight yoga gear after giving birth (thank goodness).
- Don't wear a top that's too loose. However, in some poses (like "Adho Mukha Svanasana" (Downward Dog) or "Uttanasana" (Standing Forward Fold)), your shirt could fall away from your midsection and gather at your shoulders.
- Do bring an angled nursing pillow and/or your baby's favorite small blanket. This offers your baby a comfy, familiar place to rest. If you don't bring a pillow, your teacher can roll up a traditional yoga blanket, and you can make it into a "U" shape. Cover with your baby's favorite blanky and you're good to go.
- Don't bring your high expectations. I can't tell you how many times mamas have started a class with baby, only to become incredibly frustrated when baby cries, or wants to feed. It happens. And if it happens to you, remember what I tell my new mamas: anyone can practice yoga on a beach in Thailand, but who can do yoga while breastfeeding? Who can forward fold and breathe deeply while her baby squeals and squirms? This is your yoga. This is why--and--how! we truly practice.
Hey Haute Mamas! I'm Riche Holmes Grant, a modern mom + mompreneur who designs smart + stylish products that make your mommy gig easier.
When I'm not busy taking orders from my toddler boss, I'm contributing to MarthaStewart.com or in the kitchen whipping up delicious baby + toddler gourmet creations in my BambiniWare Apronini.
Get my FREE book on How to Make the Best Food for Your Baby here!
I live in the Washington, DC area with my husband and daughter. Follow our adventures on Instagram via @BambiniWare!
- Riche Holmes Grant