Babies are born yogis, often striking poses on their own—a “child’s pose” while sleeping, or “down dog” when learning to crawl. For little ones yoga is just a natural state of joyful being.
Like all of us, babies aren’t always full of pure joy and can find themselves a bit off center—tummy aches, colic, gas, or other minor discomforts. As a parent, we can help them find relief by taking advantage of their inherent yogi tendencies using guided therapeutic yoga movements.
When done regularly, baby yoga can alleviate stress, improve sleep and also provide valuable tactile stimulation, which contributes to brain and nervous system development. It also builds strength and fine-tunes motor coordination.
By cultivating your child’s inner yogi, you facilitate her development, and help create habits for life-long health and balance!
Be You. You don’t have to be a master yogi yourself to share yoga with your child. Bring a positive, loving attitude, along with yourself, and that’s all you need.
Calm Mood. Center yourself with a few deep breaths. This can be a challenge with a cranky baby, but your stress is contagious. You can enhance the experience by playing soothing music, dimming the lights or finding a quiet a setting in nature. This will all contribute to a calm, healing environment.
Be Safe. Precaution should be taken to avoid injury. Always be gentle and never force baby into a position. Do not put infant limbs into extreme extension.
The most important thing you can do to inspire your child’s inner yogi is to create space for her to explore her body and move naturally. Our modern lifestyle, filled with strollers, car seats, bouncy chairs and other contraptions, get in the way of our babies natural yogi tendencies—and health. On the floor, on the mat, tummy time, outside on a blanket, simply let your baby “be”. This time is valuable to maintaining health and balance right from the start. And, you’ll be amazed at what she can show you!
Going upside down reverses the flow of internal fluids, massages internal organs and stimulates the central nervous system. This baby inversion has a calming effect, and can alleviate stress. As the child grows older, it can also inspire giggles.
1. Parent comes into a seated position, legs in front, feet on ground, knees up. Sit on stacked blankets if that is more comfortable. Legs are at a 45 degree angle.
2. Place baby on shins, with head just above ankles and body supported with your hands. This puts baby in a gently inverted position.
3. Hold for a few seconds, and put baby onto belly or upright.
Babies and children naturally find this fetal position, called child’s pose, when sleeping. If you are trying to create a sense of peace, calm, and relaxation—or inspire a nap—this is a great pose.
1. Place baby down with wide knees, hips to heels and head gently resting down on left cheek. Place hands where baby seems most comfortable, at sides or in a goal post position by the head.
2. Parent can gently massage the lower back, and “shhh” baby or sing quietly.
YOGI TUMMY TIME FOR TUMMY TROUBLE
We hear a lot about “tummy time” for good reason. It inspires babies to do what they need to do to develop, build strength, roll over and get ready to crawl! In yoga, this “cobra pose” strengthens back muscles, and also helps relieve constipation and gas by putting gentle pressure on the abdominal area.
1. Place baby on tummy, with hands placed under shoulder. Parent may kneel over baby and place hands on the front of shoulders. Gently facilitate a small lift of the chest. Hold a few seconds, and release baby back onto tummy. Be careful not to lift too much, as the belly should remain in full contact with the floor.
2. Option to relieve tummy trouble and gas—place a warm wash cloth under baby’s tummy and/or gently massage low back as baby rests on tummy with cheek to one side.
3. Follow with a forward bend counter pose, such as child’s pose described above.
No doubt babies find themselves filled with a little “wind”, sometimes painful, making ‘wind-removing pose’ a great choice if your little one has a baby tornado going on inside. The gentle pressure put on digestive organs helps to alleviate gas.
1. Place baby on back, and gently press right knee towards right armpit. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat on other side.
2. Variation—draw small knee circles in both directions.
SETTLE DOWN DOG (Inverted V Pose)
Little ones sometimes find this upside down “V” posture as they are learning to crawl or stand up! Down Dog calms the mind and alleviates stress, relieves headaches, and fatigue. It also builds strength and flexibility in legs and arms. In a toddler, this is a great way to cultivate coordination and blow off some energy.
1. From a hands and knee table position, press hands into floor and gently lift hips towards ceiling. With hands and feet grounded into floor, and hips lifted, baby should be in the position of an upside down “V”.
2. With a toddler, they can get into posture on their own, and even walk around on hands and feet.
Jean Munoz Keese is a Freelance Health & Wellness writer. She’s a certified Yoga and Pilates instructor, Clinical Ayurvedic Practitioner, cyclist, runner and loves anything outdoors. Jean lives in Foresthill with her husband James, and her children Huckleberry (5) and Scarlett (3). You can reach her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was published in this months edition of Sacramento Parent Magazine. http://www.sacramentoparent.com/magazines/sacramento-parent/2013/december/1358-born-yogis-healing-moves-for-babies-a-tots