Babies are naturally very limber and flexible and physical development actually happens largely through natural yoga poses which they perform with ease and aid in both their gross and fine motor skills. Encouraging these poses and the tactile stimulation involved has been found to have significant benefits to baby development and physiological processes.
Certain yoga poses promote relaxation and can help babies bodies to relax much faster before sleep as a result baby yoga has been found to improve sleeping, helping babies to sleep better and longer and can aid in helping babies transition to sleeping through the night.
Yoga poses and stretches also aid in digestion, constipation, and relieve gas and colic in babies.
Colic or gas in babies is a common problem due to them taking in air when they are drinking both from a bottle or the breast, simple yoga poses like laying them on their back and gently cycling their legs can help ease the discomfort of wind and gas and gently help to shift it.
Baby Yoga promotes a balance between strength and flexibility in their developing bodies, helping them to grow in strength while maintaining the flexibility they are born with. Particular poses for babies help build the body strength they will soon need for supporting their body and head as they learn to sit, stand and move. For example, poses that involve babies lying on their tummy and lifting their heads help strengthen their body and fragile neck muscles.
Overall, physically the exercises in baby yoga bring about movement in the body which lead to increased flexibility, better hand-eye-coordination and increase their overall strength and range of movements.
As mentioned, yoga has many physical benefits for babies but there are also a host of psychological benefits to the practice as well. Yoga is known to reduce stress in adults and is no different for babies. The combination of easing discomfort and promoting relaxation work together to help promote a calm and relaxed state and can be incredibly beneficial for both parents and babies.
Doing yoga with your baby can also be instrumental in establishing trust and building the bond between you and your baby, aiding their social development and confidence as they grow.
Given this host of developmental benefits to babies, we practice yoga daily with our babies at nursery these sessions are guided by a trained professional and our babies love it!
Having learned about the benefits yourself, especially when done together with your baby, perhaps you may want to give it a try, here is a list of a few basic yoga poses you can do at home with your baby.
Lay your baby on their back. Help them extend their arms overhead with their legs straight out. Hold the stretch for a breath or two and then let them release and move naturally.
Wind Relieving Pose
Lay your baby on their back. Gently hold the bottoms of their feet and ease their knees toward their chest. Allow your baby to accept the movement. Hold the pose for a few breaths, then allow them to release.
Knee to Chest Pose
Instead of coaxing both knees into their chest, do just one at a time. Again, lay your baby on their back and gently press one knee in toward his chest. hold for just a breath or two, release and then switch legs. You can also help relieve wind by cycling their legs gently in and out of this pose.
The Bridge Pose
This pose is part of babies natural movements at around 5 months of age. Encourage them into the pose by laying them on their back, bending their knees and planting their feet onto the floor. Gently help them lift their hips up, so they create a ramp from her knees to her shoulders on the floor. Allow them to stay in the pose as long as they like. This move helps them develop their important core muscles for balance and strength later on.
Downward Facing Dog
This pose is quite natural for older babies as they begin to explore how to crawl. Place your baby on their belly and encourage them to get into all fours and push their buttocks up toward the ceiling keeping their hands and feet down on the floor. They will most likely naturally assume the triangular shape of the posture. Babies will often follow along when they see you doing this once they are accustomed to the movement.
Remember all of these moves are only to be performed if baby is willing to follow directions and should never be forced.