Baby Yoga – Getting Started

In this article you will learn:

  • About some of the types of yoga
  • How to manage the transition from massage to yoga
  • What you need to prepare for the exercises

Yoga routine

The Baby Yoga Basics guides contain clear and concise explanations and diagrams of how to carry out exercises based on yoga moves and stretches. As with the massage routine, there is a suitable nursery rhyme to sing with your baby that fits nicely with that particular exercise. For example, The Grand Old Duke of York is suggested for the Marching exercise.

Each guide covers a particular area of the body and again, as with the massage routine, there are helpful hints on the safe way to practise the exercises and an explanation of the benefits.

Where necessary, alternative positions are suggested.

Types of yoga

Yoga has been practised for thousands of years, but only recently adapted for babies so that they may gain from the many benefits associated with yoga postures (known as asanas).

Yoga for babies can be active and dynamic and, paradoxically, relaxing and calming, so can offer stimulation for your baby when they wish to play vigorously; and then relaxation as they quieten and calm.

Hatha (Gentle)

  • Focuses on holding poses.
  • Concentrates on slows stretches.
  • Focuses on controlling breathing.
  • Builds flexibility.

Ashtanga (Active)

  • Focuses on moving quickly from one pose to another.
  • Very active.
  • Improves concentration and stamina.
  • Focuses on deep breathing.
  • Vigorous and fast-paced.
  • Builds flexibility and strength.

Yoga is based on asanas; breathing and, on occasion, meditation. Hatha yoga is commonly practised in the UK, although ashtanga yoga is gaining popularity. The majority of the exercises in this article are based on hatha yoga asanas, but are fairly dynamic in order to maintain your baby’s interest; there is also the opportunity to spend calm time with them.

Because baby yoga is more active than baby massage, it is important that you give consideration to your own posture, movements and handling of your baby. The yoga sessions give you the opportunity to think about relaxing by adjusting your posture and focusing on your breathing.

How to be focused on your breathing

Yogic philosophy believes that breathing strengthens overall well-being on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. Therefore, correct breathing is of great importance, and ‘pranayama’ (yoga breathing) is considered to be as necessary for improving and maintaining good health as the yoga postures themselves.

Consider how stress can make a person breath quickly and shallowly, yet by taking a deep breath they are able to quickly reduce the level of tension in their muscles, relax their posture and suddenly think more clearly and deal with the source of the stress ultimately feeling more focused. So, breathing correctly may help relax and calm you and make you feel more grounded and clear-headed.

Benefits Of Pranayama

  • Develops concentration and clarity of mind.
  • Increases mental and physical powers of endurance.
  • Induces relaxation, particularly for the nervous system.
  • Increases oxygen supply to the brain.

Although the exercises in this section are for your baby, you may also benefit; particularly if you take time to focus on your breathing, if only for a few minutes, at the beginning and end of a yoga session. As your baby is attuned to how you are feeling, they will appreciate the calm time before and after the sessions, as much as you do.

Transition from baby massage to yoga

The following pages give you a step-by-step guide to the yoga exercises to follow with your baby.

The articles cover.

If time permits, we suggest that you practise some or all of these exercises daily, so that you and your baby enjoy all the benefits of yoga. Each exercise has been given a name to help you remember them. In addition, the asana name that the exercise has been based on has been included, along with its particular benefits.

You will see that the massage sequence is very structured; with a new sequence for a different part of your baby’s body being covered each week. This helps to make learning the sequence easier; and helps with the flow needed to make the massage a pleasurable experience for you both. However, the yoga exercises do not need to be learned and practised in such a structured way. It is a flexible routine that allows you to work with your baby and select the exercises that they particularly enjoy. In the early stages it is advisable to introduce one or two exercises from each section so as not to over stimulate your baby.

Each article will contain:

  • Hints and tips on safely during the yoga.
  • If relevant, the yoga name that the exercise is based on.
  • Suitable nursery rhymes that enhance the enjoyment of the exercises.
  • Step-by-step instructions accompanied with line drawings to guide you through the exercise.
  • Benefits for your baby.

Gauging your baby’s flexibility

The majority of babies are very flexible and can accommodate all of the yoga exercises. However, it is vital that you do not force your baby’s limbs beyond their natural flexibility or beyond the point of resistance.

Getting started

  • Choose a time when your baby is happy to do the yoga exercises.
  • Prepare the room. Remember:
    • clear the space to enable you to move around
    • it needs to be as light and airy as possible.
  • Collect equipment, e.g. yoga mat.
  • Have this book to hand to practise the exercises.
  • CD player and relaxing music.
  • Remove sharp jewellery and wash hands.
  • Be mindful of your own position when doing the exercises.

Asking Permission

As with massage, it is important to ask for your baby’s permission, before commencing the exercises, by:

  • placing both of your hands gently on your baby’s chest
  • looking into your baby’s eyes
  • asking your baby in a playful, melodious tone, ‘Would you like to do some yoga today (name)?’

Things to remember

  • Yoga has been adapted for babies so they can now experience the wonderful benefits associated with yoga postures and stretching
  • Yoga can be active and dynamic and relaxing and calming.
  • Hatha yoga focuses on still poses and slow stretches to build flexibility.
  • Ashtanga yoga focuses on fluid movement and deep breathing and improves concentration and stamma.
  • Yoga breathing (pranayama) can help relax and calm, and teaches us how to breathe correctly.
  • Yoga improves overall emotional and physical well-being and is great for maintaining good health
  • The baby yoga exercises are broken down into bite-size chunks just as with the massage to help with learning and enhance the enjoyment for both parent and baby.
  • Works with your baby’s natural flexibility.