The Benefits of Yoga for Mothers and Babies
Baby yoga will help you and your baby to get to know each other better. You will learn to interact with your infant in a more positive way and will begin to recognise his cues, which will enable you to provide the most appropriate. This sort of “attunement” will give your baby the reassuring feeling of being emotionally connected to you and he will feel understood. As a mother, you will become more observant and will begin to notice your baby’s unique qualities.
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Baby yoga uses massage as a means for you to explore your baby. Touch is a positive way for you to get to know each other and has extensive benefits: you will develop a higher degree of mutual trust, your child will be less fractious and you will feel less anxious.You will communicate with your baby during massage as he watches you and you mirror his facial expressions. Through touch, you will learn to read “cues” such as changing expressions, yawns, and turning of the face or body. Understanding these cues will help you to interpret your baby’s needs – for example is he tired or does he need a feed?
Touch will also have physical benefits for your baby. Studies have indicated that touch is important for a baby’s healthy development, improving the function of the lungs, circulation, digestion, and hormone-secreting glands. In fact tactile stimulation can even contribute to the development of the infant brain and nervous system.
Rather than feeding your baby as soon as he cries, try relaxed “whooshing”. Often your baby will just be tired or bored rather than hungry. Through baby yoga you can find ways of interpreting your baby’s needs. Preventive routines and massage can help with colic, for example. Relaxation is also essential for you, the mother, so that you can cope calmly with testing times!
How often do you just go up to your baby and tickle him for a smile? Yoga will help you to play and interact, promoting relaxation and helping your baby to sleep more deeply. Yoga routines consist of playing, stretching, and relaxation exercises with your baby, each of you focusing on the other. You will learn to handle your baby through movements and games that foster communication. He will receive positive body sensations, becoming relaxed and more able to deal with physical stress, and will enjoy the cumulative effects of touch, movement, rhythm, and relaxation. By focusing on your baby, you will understand how he communicates and you will grow in confidence through handling him and watching how he has fun – which can be fun for you too! Baby yoga fosters a rich non-verbal communication between mother and child, making happier mums and happier babies.
Relaxed Babies Make Relaxed Mums Make Relaxed Babies
What can be better than taking time out to relax together? In practising relaxation techniques you will hold your baby close, providing reassurance and safety for her, as well as “letting go” emotionally and mentally. Yoga will help you to shift some attention away from your baby – yes, this is important too – putting your mind into neutral, sure in the confidence that your baby is looked after. Your baby will experience his mother free from superficial worry and will enjoy peace.You will see a pattern: when your baby relaxes, you will relax. And when both of you are relaxed, you will be better able to soothe and comfort your baby as well as yourself.
Helping with Sleep Problems
Every mother knows the desperation that comes when her baby will not go to sleep! Baby yoga can play a vital role in helping you cope with a wakeful baby by providing a firm routine of massage, which will allow your baby to relax and to sleep more soundly. This will help you to remain calm, which in turn will help your baby to feel secure, and the physical separation of bedtime will become less stressful for both of you. When your baby is sleeping better – and you, too, are getting more sleep – you will feel more able to meet his demands in a consistent and sensitive way.
Yoga focuses on self-awareness and this is the key to empathy. By understanding our own emotions we can learn to read and recognize emotions in others. This can help us to remain in “neutral gear”, maintaining balance and self-reflection even while our emotions are turbulent. This is a great help in parenting. Through relaxation in yoga you can learn to reflect on yourself and become aware of how your mood may affect your baby, and in this way you can avoid projecting your mood onto her. Breathing techniques will teach you to “centre” yourself in this way when you feel stressed – slow abdominal breathing will calm you down. Regular relaxation will help you to sleep and recuperate, which is very important when you have a young baby!
The Cycle of Joy
Perhaps the main benefit of baby yoga is the fun and joy that you will share as mother and child. There is a cycle of joy, reciprocated and transferred from mother to baby and back again.
“When we laugh our heart rate goes up, our immune system is activated, hormones are pumped up to make us more alert and more oxygen flows to our brain, which seems to help us to think a bit sharper and see things more clearly. Our muscles relax and our digestive system works better. Stress levels go down. The air is less tense. We become capable of empathetic feeling, we become less hostile and our ability of making sound decisions and resolving conflicts improves.” Emotional Intelligent Parenting, Maurice Elias, Steven Tobias, & Brian Friedlander.