April 8, 2010
Mommy and baby have been as one for nine months. What could be more natural than to continue that closeness using the ancient movements of yoga? The word "yoga" means "yoke" in Sanskrit with a meaning of connecting or joining.
Jyothi Larson, in the book she authored with Ken Howard -- Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby: The Yoga Workout for New Moms -- points out that yoga takes advantage of a baby's love of being touched. As mom works out, baby snuggles next to her or, in some poses, wiggles on her tummy or leans on her side. Then mom interacts with baby.
Mom gets a relaxing, strengthening and flexibility workout recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Larson says that special, gentle poses for baby leads to a calmer, content child that she calls a Buddha Baby.
More than a decade ago, Helen Garabedian of Boston created the now very popular Itsy Bitsy Yoga program combining her love of yoga with her love of being a mom to son Andrew. A bamboo forest of classes, DVDs and books help parents stretch to connect with their children from birth to 4-years-old.
Another well-known pioneer in the field of mommy-baby yoga is Britain's Dr. Françoise Freedman, a lecturer in medical anthropology at Cambridge, mother of four and founder of Birthlight, an organization that focuses on a holistic approach to pregnancy and childcare. "I just put baby massage and Indian yoga together," Freeman explains. "I was just doing this with friends. Then, I saw the results and started making it more systematic."
Freedman and the many other proponents of baby yoga say the infants appear to be much more in control of their bodies. She claims the little yogis are mobile, confident, do not mind being moved around, have better head control and seem to crawl earlier. And, the combination of yoga and massage prevents constipation a definite cause for unhappy babies.
Mamaste classes, as they are whimsically called, can be found from coast to coast and beyond. There are Baby Bliss classes at Infinite Bliss Yoga in Louisville, Kentucky. Mom and baby yoga and meditation classes are featured at the Blossom Birth studio in Palo Alto, Calif. Family Yoga in Greensboro, N. C., features mother and baby classes prenatal and post. Venture to Great Britain and you can take yoga for mums and babies at the YMCA in Surbiton.
Starting out in baby/mommy yoga can be easy as a song, literally. Go to www.youtube.com and check out a Birthlight singing yoga session.
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