How Does Yoga Benefit My Baby?
To some, the idea of teaching your small precious infant to downward dog might seem a little strange, but babies are actually natural at yoga. They are flexible in both their physical bodies and their mind as babies are programmed to learn new things and soak up all the new experiences they come across.
Is yoga really something that could benefit your baby or toddler though? Here are a few of the reasons we believe it could, and why it can be great fun for you both too.
1) Developing Motor Skills
Baby yoga aids the development of motor skills which is simply the ability to use and move their muscles with purpose. There are two types of motor skills, the first is called gross. This is the movement and subsequent coordination of the arms and legs. As your baby develops this includes crawling, walking, running and jumping. Fine motor skills are the coordination of the smaller muscles including the hands and fingers.
Your baby is at a formative age for these skills to be developing fast. This is why providing your little one with the opportunity to strengthen and practice using their muscles through various poses designed purposely for their age, allows natural development to progress with ease.
2) Supporting All the Systems of the Body
Baby yoga is amazing for supporting the body’s natural systems and helping them to work in accordance to how they were designed.
For example, your baby’s small and developing body can sometimes struggle to digest their milk and this can cause constipation and excess gas. Certain yoga poses can help strengthen the digestive system and reduce the problems this may cause.
Yoga can also help boost the immune system and brain function, improve circulation and much more.
More generally, yoga strengthens the body inside and out and practising the various poses and movements allow this process and the processes of natural development to take place more smoothly and easily.
3) Improving Sleep Patterns
Baby yoga can also help improve sleeping patterns. Not only does it provide a gentle, but effective full body workout for your little one, it can be used to create a routine whereby your baby sleeps during the day which they need for optimal development and growth.
Regular gentle exercise, such as yoga, can help your baby fall into a deeper sleep more quickly, meaning they will often sleep for longer stretches and wake up feeling more refreshed (perhaps giving you more of a break too!).
Baby yoga, therefore, allows your baby to find their own natural rhythm and aids restful sleep. It does this partly by aiding digestion and relieving trapped gas, but the process of baby yoga itself is calming, grounding and relaxing. Touch and time with you or another trusted caregiver releases oxytocin which is the hormone associated with love. It stands to reason that a happy, contented baby will be more likely to sleep well.
Many parents make baby yoga part of their bedtime routine, and it is especially effective after bath time when the body is warm and baby is ready for a wind down after a day of exciting events.
Keep in mind that we are not trying to suggest that any technique will help a baby sleep completely through the night. Although yoga is soothing and does promote sleep, babies are designed to wake up in the night for a feed and so if your baby does wake, it's nothing that you are doing wrong. Every baby is different and yours will find its own pattern.
4) An Opportunity for Closeness and Bonding
When you and your baby practise baby yoga together, you both benefit from the opportunity to bond. A shared physical experience is nurturing and simply touching in the gentle and mindful way that baby yoga requires can have a beautiful impact on your relationship. This can be especially beneficial to those who are struggling with their baby bond or even those suffering from the common illness of PND, but in truth, this opportunity to connect with your baby is valuable to every parent and child.
5) Improves Body Awareness and Flexibility
Baby yoga helps to promote a sense of body awareness, which simply means learning about how the different parts of the bodywork and fit together. It is never too early to be introduced to the concept of a healthy mind and body, and yoga is a great way to do this.
Understanding our own body, what it can do and its strength is powerful knowledge and as babies are able to learn so much so quickly, sharing yoga with them from a young age, enables them to grow up with this awareness which will stand them in a great position as they enter the big wide world. Remember, healthy habits are developed early in life.
Yoga can also help develop and increase flexibility. Babies are born with natural strength and flexibility, (although this, of course, varies between individuals), but without the opportunity to stretch, move and work on these skills, some of this suppleness will be lost over time. Practising baby yoga is a fun and easy way to help your little one to maintain these attributes they were born with and actually increase their strength.
6) It's Hugely Versatile and Lots of Fun!
Baby yoga is very versatile and can be used in different ways at different times. You may do just a few seconds of your little one's favourite move or stretch, or bring different types of poses together for a longer session. You can choose stretches that are more calming and relaxing, or bigger, more dynamic lifts and swings that are sure to bring about lots of smiles and giggles. You can even use music and props to add to the experience and make your yoga sessions even more fun.
Should you prefer you can attend a class to do yoga along with others. This is also a great way to enjoy all the benefits of yoga in a fun and stimulating environment, plus pick up new tips and ideas. The music and other babies that accompany the yoga create a positive space for little ones to grow and learn. It is also a great place to meet new mummy friends and create connections with those who have children the same age as your child, enabling them to make their first real friends too. Totsplay offers Baby Massage classes and holds classes nationwide.