Can Infant Yoga Really Help Your Baby?
When I received an email about an aspiring yoga instructor looking for participants to help her get certified to teach "infant yoga," I immediately said yes. Pre-pregnancy, I practiced yoga regularly and have been trying to find time to get back into it. But with the typical yoga class being an hour and half, that's a luxury I just don't have right now. So, why not learn how to incorporate my 8-month-old daughter into a pose or two?
The community room of the commune-like neighborhood where the class was being held was filled with chatter, crying, parents chasing toddling babies and even breastfeeding moms all sitting in a circle. It was the exact opposite of Zen.
Oblivious to the chaos taking place around her, the instructor patiently moved from pose to pose, demonstrating on a teddy bear that had my daughter's undivided attention. It was all I could do to keep her from lunging at it every chance she got.
There was a lot of singing, cuddling, playing and just general interaction with baby. The program is actually called Itsy Bitsy Yoga and has more than 125 yoga poses and techniques for babies from birth to four years old. It was created by an infant developmental movement educator and registered yoga teacher, Helen Garabedian, with the goal of furthering development and deepening the parent/child bond.
So what kind of yoga can a baby do? A lot of the moves encourage tummy time or weight-bearing in the forearms for learning to crawl. There is a lot of singing during the movements, such as, "Do the Yogi Yogi (Do the Hokey Pokey) and Ring Around the Yogi (Ring Around the Rosy)." The poses, many of which I'd done in previous yoga classes, are said to encourage digestion and even ease colic.
Every position encouraged a closeness and interaction with your baby that was meant to help you understand his or her little being on a deeper level. I swear I read my daughter's mind at one point during the class. She was saying, "Who are these crazy people, and when can I sink my teeth into that bear?"
By the way, a Google search on infant yoga will bring up an ABC News story about a controversial video on YouTube showing a Russian woman swinging her baby around calling it dynamic gymnastics. It's horrifying and absolutely heart-wrenching to watch. This was nothing like the class I attended. Just wanted to clarify that.
Overall, Itsy Bitsy Yoga was a fun experience and helped me expand my thinking around what my daughter and I can already do together. I want to be a good role model for her in making physical activity a daily part of her life. It was fun to see her interacting with the other babies, watching the instructor so closely and showing off her sweet baby yoga moves. There's a reason the happy baby pose has always been one of my favorites. Namaste.
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