Published: Sunday 26 June 2016

Julie Cleasby, founder of To Baby and Beyond, has spent many years practising, researching and teaching baby yoga. Here we take a look at what she believes are the key benefits of baby yoga for both the infants and the parents.

Yoga is an ancient art, practiced by many for centuries worldwide. Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline which originated in India. The aim or goal of yoga is to attain perfect spiritual insight and tranquility. Many religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism also associate meditative state with yoga.

Yoga means “unite”, to join together or to attach. This can be interpreted as to unite in mind and body and spirit or in the medium of parent and baby yoga. Where better to unite and attach than within a family unit?

Where also better to start than right at the beginning with babies? Babies are natural little yoga people. Many of the adult poses emulate what a baby naturally does! Parent and baby yoga is enhancing baby’s natural abilities; building and strengthening them. It also, therefore, brings the adult back to the inner child and back to the flexibility of the baby!

Yoga increases strength, muscle tone and flexibility, and increases physical and emotional strength. Poses and postures require you to support your weight, balance and move in new and interesting ways. Stretching and toning muscles focuses on both the mind and body. The movement from one exercise to another also helps with the physical tone of the muscles. As baby develops this is key to them reaching their full potential. Also, for mums following pregnancy and birth, the gentle stretching can help them become stronger and recover more quickly.

As mums learn safe and appropriate postnatal exercises in a supportive environment they are able to improve posture and develop core strength. Gentle yoga exercises can help to prevent or ease many common postnatal problems, which may include weak pelvic floor and back pain. It may also help with tiredness and postnatal depression.

Yoga aids ailments and tummy troubles. Through movement and breath work baby’s respiratory, digestive and circulatory system can be encouraged to work optimally. This can help with common infantile issues such as wind, colic and constipation.

Infant yoga may help to calm a fractious baby. Magic poses such as seated drops and holds such as ‘Tiger in the Tree’ may also help to calm a fractious or fussy baby. Parents may also then feel they are armed with tools and techniques which can alleviate colic, wind and constipation leaving them feeling empowered to help their babies at time of distress.

Baby yoga strengthens the immune system. Through breath work, poses and focus relaxation increases for both baby and parent. Through the reduction of cortisol (stress hormone) the immune system will begin to work optimally. Also the poses keep the body active and moving, therefore increasing a feeling of overall health and wellbeing.

Yoga improves breathing. When we breathe many of us never use our full breath we mostly breathe very shallowly into the lungs. Breath work helps focus the attention of the breath and teaches us how to use the lungs optimally. Breath work can also help clear the nasal passages and calm the central nervous system.

Baby yoga enhances bonding. Parents and babies can spend time relaxing together and bonding. Babies and mothers unite in the womb on conception and grow together over approximately nine months – bonding, massaging and moving. At the time of birth the family then unite in the outside world in a different way that is both familiar but also unfamiliar.

Parent and baby yoga can help that transition from womb to world. The womb is a very enclosed, small, safe place. Following birth babies are very positionally fetal. Yoga is able to offer a way for babies to extend into the world both physically, mentally and emotionally.

Baby yoga offers tools for relaxation. In contrast the outside world is a very busy, large and often frightening place, particularly for a baby. Yoga gives parent and baby a chance to bring safety and relaxation together using guiding techniques and movements for calmness and relaxation in the often very busy world of today’s parenting.

When parents relax their minds they are able to better respond, understand and become aware of their babies non-verbal and verbal cues. This makes them more in tune with their ever-growing baby. It increases their awareness of the emerging personalities and developing relationship between them. This is a skill they can carry with them throughout the rest of their lives.

Baby yoga increases body awareness. Parents and babies, through yoga, can become more aware of their own bodies and also the physical space of themselves within the universe. It is a great way of experiencing new senses, feelings and movements for both parents and babies.

Infant yoga aids co-ordination. Baby yoga may aid the co-ordination and brain development with certain movements and exercises crossing the mid-line of the body.

Parent and baby yoga helps increase self-confidence. Through yoga and the contact with their babies, parents can feel an increased confidence and self-esteem. Babies also gain respect from their parents listening to their cues and letting them know they are important.

Most importantly, parents during yoga devote time and attention to their babies in this usually very busy world.

Share the amazing concept of parent and baby yoga but learning to be a baby yoga teacher. We’ve courses throughout the UK in locations such as London, Doncaster and Brighton, or we offer the opportunity to take a distance learning course. We can also organise one-to-one training. Take a look at our course detailsto see the options available.

To Baby and Beyond also offer bespoke in-home baby yoga courses in the Sussex area for parents.

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