Yoga for Mother and Baby
What a wonderful way to stay fit, calm and poised! Mother can do Yoga with the baby as young as two months once you have an approval from the doctor.
At Yoga Bharati, we started a new series of a six week workshop sessions for young moms with the babies anywhere between 3 months to 1 year. It is hard to imagine doing Yoga during postpartum period with your little ones. But it is certainly possible in a group setting!
Based on our workshop experience, we are presenting some of the yoga practices you mothers could practice with your baby in the class or at home.
Here are some of the practices you could perform:
- If the baby can sit, then the baby on the mat in front of you while he/she can watch the mom practicing Marjalasana (Tiger) breathing or Cat and Cow pose as the familiar name goes. If the baby is too young to sit, place the baby in the supine pose in between your legs and hands as you are in the table top position and then perform Cat and Cow.
- Another breath and body synchronization practice that you moms can do is Shashankasana breathing while watching their babies with a smile and chanting soothing humming sounds and one bends down from the lower back to touch the forehead to the ground.
- Suryanamaskars (Sun Salutations) can be practiced by laying down the baby in front of the mat (long side of the mat). Baby can watch you as you stretch your body during the suryanamaskar steps. Remember to smile at the baby and engage him/her in your practice.
- It is fun to supine poses. Supine leg raising (Ardha Uttanapadasana) is a great way to improve abdominal strength in the post partum phase. If the baby can sit, mom can make the baby sit on the tummy. Or she can lay the baby on her belly on the back as in the supine pose or on the baby’s tummy as in prone pose. While holding the baby, raise each leg at a time carefully with the other leg bent at the knee. Then slowly raising both the legs (Uttanapadasana). Smile and connect with the baby while practicing. This practice also helps strengthen the back and increases the flexibility of hamstrings.
- Side leg raising practices (Shesha Shayanasana) are a great way to watch your baby while raising your leg lying sideways.
- Place the baby on your tummy (sitting, supine or prone as the baby feels comfortable) and perform Ardha Navasana (half boat). Raise your head and one leg raise at the same time while holding the baby. As the baby is comfortable, make an attempt to raise both legs while still holding the baby. This practice will help you reduce abdominal fat and strengthen your core, neck, and back muscles that weaken during pregnancy.
- Supine core Strengthening with baby on the ankle: Raising your legs (bent at the knee) in supine pose, place the baby on your ankle while holding her arms. Lift the legs up and down as much as you can do safely with baby still in your grip. This movement gives core strengthening work for the mom. This is one of the baby’s favorite pose as he/she receives the movement that may help baby to burp and digest food!
- Perform Vrikshasana (tree pose) while mom carries the baby facing forward. A good balancing pose that helps focusing the mind and developing concentration. Another benefit of the pose is to strengthen thighs, calves, back, and biceps (by carrying baby). If you have balance issues during postpartum phase, avoid this pose or stand against the wall.
- Perform Veerabhadrasana(Warrior Posture) while the baby sits on the mom’s thighs and enjoys the pose. This pose strengthens your thighs, legs, lower back and shoulder muscles
- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose) – While you lie down on your belly (prone pose) place the baby in the front. Inhaling lift the head and torso and exhale bring down the torso and head. Mom can smile and tickle the baby’s feet. Giggles of the babies motivate the mothers to practice yoga regularly. Bhujangasana strengthens your neck and back muscles.
- Shalabhasana (Locust) – With the baby placed in front of you, practice this pose as it helps mom to strengthen lower back muscles.
- Ashwini Mudra (Kegels) – This is one the most important practices mother should practice to strengthen her pelvic muscles. This can be practiced in Baddhakonasana (Bound Angle Pose) or Malasana (squat) pose. Place the baby in front of you and practice Ashwini Mudra for 5-10 mins everyday while you talk to the baby.
- Chanting Aum and or humming – Take your baby on your lap and chant Aum for 5-10 mins. This practice will calm you and your baby alike. With regular practice of chanting, babies can develop a calm mind through out their childhood, youth and adulthood. Yoga becomes a lifestyle for them.
Once the child feels safe enough in the class and gets used to the place and the other participants around, he/she will allow mom to continue with other practices. During the class moms who are breast feeding were allowed to feed their babies in the same or different room. Diaper changing, eating finger food, and playing or using soothing toys were encouraged. Yoga in a group setting helps moms and babies to have a soothing and calm experience. “ When moms are calm, babies are calm”.
Yoga stretches, breath synchronization practices with breath awareness and mindfulness helps inculcate discipline in the baby early on.
As it is said yoga is everyone and every stage, the moms in our class demonstrated this as they practiced with their babies.
Savita Joshi (ERYT) is the Director of Yoga Therapy and has been the yoga teacher for over a decade. She specializes in yoga for women, prenatal and postnatal while also practicing as a senior yoga therapist for most of the common chronic ailments.