Yoga bonding with baby
Sarah Swindlehurst/Mulliner outlines what to expect from a parent and baby yoga class
Yoga helps the bonding process between parent and child — ideal especially for new parents. It allows the mother to get back in shape after childbirth and stimulates a baby’s natural development. It gives a parent ‘timeout’ with their baby and provides them with yoga tools to use at home. For both fathers and mothers, it allows a special bonding to happen amid a time of chaos.
Parent/baby classes are popular with the new-born set and usually geared to accommodate babies from two months to 12 months.
In most classes, mums place a yoga blanket at the top of their mat where — in an ideal world — the baby will lay happily for the duration. This rarely happens! The good thing about a parent/baby class is that you are totally free to pick up your baby and feed them, change their diaper, or walk around the room. Sometimes, teachers will even hold the baby for you so that you can get a little ‘you’ yoga in!
For parent, the social aspect is important: they will be getting out of the house to a non-stressful environment and meet other new mothers. The value of this should not be underestimated. For babies, many delight in the new sights and stimulation of the classroom environment and are perfectly content to look around and take it all in.
Others are freaked out by the very same stimulations and may cry — though they may eventually get used to it. A few may snooze happily through the whole thing. So don’t give up if the first class doesn’t go well!
Usually in classes there is a section for the parent, another just for the baby, and then a shared section bonding together both parent and baby within a pose. The section for the baby provides the parent with some simple techniques and movements for their baby to assist in their development, based on the yoga techniques and usually with calming music in the background. The physical touch between parent and child (like baby massage) helps the bonding process. It also enables the baby to become more aware of his/her body, assisted by the parent to develop hand/eye co-ordination and stimulate the left/right brain hemispheres. Babies in the womb are used to being tight and scrunched up, so baby yoga gently stretches them out and encourages their little bodies to open up sooner than if left to themselves.
Above all, it’s about spending precious time together. It’s a common saying that babies don’t stay small or young for long, so parent/baby yoga is a priceless time for all.
Sarah Swindlehurst/Mulliner is pre- and postnatal senior teacher trainer at Yogakidz Worldwide, a not-for-profit company that runs teacher training courses, for teaching all ages (yogakidzworldwide.com)