Basic ideas for yoga with babies
Actualizado: 29 de abr de 2020
If you follow me on social media, you have probably seen already that my current practice includes a new component: my little one! So far I haven’t been able to go back to the yoga studio and the only practice I’ve done outside was the postpartum yoga course that went for a little over a month. Back then Jannik was about seven weeks old and he remained by my side (or breastfeeding) during class. So there wasn’t much interaction between us. Now that he is older and he is quickly developing new abilities, his presence during my practice is much more prevalent and fun.
I started to include him in my practice simply because if I didn’t, I couldn’t practice at all. His timetable is very unpredictable. I can never be sure how long his naps will be and I can’t plan my days ahead, but as we go. At first it bothered me that I couldn’t even know if I would have a few minutes for myself and I even worried that it might take a long time before I could do a few stretches. On the other hand, stretching was becoming an impending necessity, after months of carrying the baby and keeping a not-so-ergonomic posture while breastfeeding for hours and hours. In conclusion, I had to do something with him or things were going to get ugly…
For those moms who are curious about how to practice yoga with your baby, I would like to share a few basic ideas you can use to start this beautiful experience. In the future I will share some practical examples where I apply these ideas. Hope you join in!
FOR THE MOMS
How should I organize my practice?
Especially if you have practiced yoga before, it’s necessary that you recalibrate your expectations. Not only in terms of what your body will be able to do at this point, but also about how the practice will look like. It is essential that you stay flexible, and I don’t mean physically. Be flexible with the length, the content and the time of day of your practice. Your baby will determine all these factors and you will have to accommodate accordingly. That’s part of the practice at this moment of your life!
How long should the practice be?
If you can only squeeze 10 or 20 minutes on the mat (instead of the 60 or 90 minutes that you would wish to do), that’s better than nothing. A few poses for a couple of minutes will do wonders in a long day taking care of your baby. You will be revitalized, your mood will improve and you’ll be able to alleviate some of those typical aches that moms accumulate on their back, neck and shoulders.
Should I go through a full yoga practice?
Don’t try to complete a magnificent sequence of poses where you flow from sun salutations to standing poses, then you start with the focused poses and you may even reach a peak pose before you enter the relaxation phase. Let’s be honest, you won’t get that far! Remember, your baby will determine what you will do, so observe him as you practice. If you see that he is entertained on his own, take the chance to focus on your personal practice, but if he starts to ask for your attention, give it to him! Include him in your poses, choosing those that better allow you to do so. In this sense, it’ll be a lot easier if you focus your practice on poses on the floor.
How can I interact with my baby?
With all your senses! Here it’s not about a classic yoga practice. It’s about having fun! Look at your baby, make sounds that make him laugh, kiss him, tickle him, swing his body, hold him, talk to him, caress him... All those things aren’t distractions from your practice, but opportunities to bond with your baby.
FOR THE BABIES
Who’s in charge?
As I said before, your baby is the boss now. Although he can’t still talk, he is already showing you with his attitude and his expressions what he wants and needs. When you see that your baby is telling you something, try to cover those needs as you go about your practice. Try to keep an open and positive attitude about this. Your baby is not a little tyrant trying to ruin your practice! He is your master teaching you about patience and mindfulness.
Where and how should I place my baby?
To begin with you can place him lying dow by your side or in front of the mat on a blanket. It’s very probable that he’ll start to move as you go about the first poses. Maybe he will even move closer to you! Then, start to include him physically in your poses. You can place him vertically under you at the height of your head and chest. Here you have a lot of room for play with poses such as downward facing dog, cat-cow, etc. At some point he might get tired of always having the same view, and in that case you can hold him to stand, sit him down, swing him, lift him, make him fly… The possibilities are huge.
In any case, please always bare in mind the safety of your baby!! Such basic things as not stepping on him, squashing him or dropping him… Obvious, right?
Does my baby need anything in particular?
Dress him comfortably, with clothes that allow him to move freely and keep him warm at room temperature.
At times I kept a toy around for Jannik to be distracted while I practiced, but finally I have opted for having nothing around. The reason why I do this is that I prefer having us both connect more deeply as we build a routine together without the need of external objects. This may shorten the practice, but it will make it emotionally more intense and enriching.
What should I do if he starts to cry?
You are the best person to answer this question. What do you normally do when your baby cries? If this happens during your yoga practice, do the same. Don’t be discouraged because you couldn’t complete the plan you may have had. You’ll have another chance tomorrow. If you think about it, you have your whole life to practice alone. Enjoy this moment now with your baby and console him if he needs it. This instant is unique!