Recently I was speaking with an expectant mom about yoga for kids. She mentioned that she would be interested in learning more in a couple of years once her oldest was into pre-school. I inquired, “Why wait? Even infants can do yoga.” She was completely amazed. I told her I had done yoga with my children and highly recommend it for all new parents.
Yoga for infants includes numerous benefits. Yoga:
Improves digestion-A baby’s digestive tract is underdeveloped and sensitive. Yoga helps to strengthen and massage the intestines, increasing baby’s comfort and stimulating absorption and elimination thus making baby more content and parents’ lives easier.
Provides relief from colic-Colic is frustrating for both child and parent. Numerous baby yoga poses can help calm parents and soothe babies. Baby squats are extremely effective for this. Hold baby in front of you, standing with your feet a little more than hips distance apart. On an exhale, squat quickly while securely holding baby. Return back up into the starting stance on the inhale. Repeat until baby settles.
Encourages bonding-Yoga encourages spending time together. Touching, holding, engaging with purpose firmly establishes an emotional foundation for parent/child relationships. Other family members and care givers can also participate in infant yoga adding their contribution to the baby’s emotional well-being.
Stimulates neuromuscular development-Repetitive movement and touch are the cornerstones to developing neuromuscular pathways. Since the brain develops faster during the first year of life than during any other period it is vital that the neuromuscular system be stimulated frequently and repetitively so as to lay the foundation for future learning and growth. Yoga assists with this goal.
Increases body awareness-Babies learn through interacting physically with their world. During the first year they go from newborn to walking. Yoga assists babies in learning where their body parts are and how to move these body parts to improve coordination, develop strength, and instil a positive body image.
Reduces stress-Babies lives are stressful. Everything is new, they cannot tell others what is wrong, and they are struggling to understand and control their body. New parents also have a high level of stress compounded by sleeplessness. Yoga can help both infants and parents grow and learn together, trusting their intuition and learning to relax.
Encourages a deeper, longer sleep-Infants need stimulus in order to grow. They also need sleep. Infant yoga helps baby to exercise the body and inspire the mind. Afterwards baby is ready to relax and drift off for a nice long nap. Yoga also helps to calm babies who have woken during the night to get back to sleep. New parents will rejoice as their little one sleeps longer and deeper than ever before.
The joy of yoga for infants is that it can be practised anywhere, anytime your child needs some personal attention. Ideally a period of 5-20 minutes of yoga is scheduled into the day at a regular time. For example, if baby is most interactive in the morning do stimulating, playful poses. Alternatively, if baby is commonly fussy at night incorporate relaxing yoga into the bedtime routine. Often bath time is a perfect time to include some yoga poses as baby is alert and has Mom or Dad’s undivided attention.
Above all, infant yoga is all about being present with your baby. The interactions between parent and child come from a basis of love and gentleness. The mutual experience joins families together and helps baby develop, parents to facilitate growth, and everyone to recognize life as a wonderful gift to be shared.