Mom and Baby Yoga: A Few Poses Made Simple

Mother and baby doing yogaMom and baby yoga has grown with increasing popularity over the years.  The benefits of bonding and increased physical fitness associated with doing yoga with your new baby are manifold.  Courses such as Post-Natal Yoga: Basic Class provide an excellent introduction to any new mom wanting to create this kind of routine both her and her new baby can enjoy.

Let’s take a look at some of the more popular mom and baby yoga poses to get started!

Lying on Your Back

After suffering the strains of pregnancy for close to 10 months, lying on your back for simple exercises can be a dream for some new moms.  And fun for your baby to climb all over you.  Another important benefit is strengthening your abdominals. Abdominal work can be done very effectively with your baby. Our body’s core is the primary power center so any core work, especially post natal, will benefit mom (or dad) immensely.

Here are a few easy and effective mom and baby exercises:

1)      See-saw

One way to begin back-lying poses is to pull your knees into the chest, holding your baby on your shins and rocking the body gently forward and back along the spine. If you want to add additional resistance for strength training, raise and lower legs from this position.

2)      Crunches

With the back flat, knees bent, and soles of the feet on the floor, lean baby against the thighs or lay her on the tummy for support. As you breathe out, draw the belly deeply in toward the spine and lift the head and shoulders off the floor. Release as you inhale, lift as you exhale. Once you get stronger and you feel no strain in the back and no bulging in the belly, you can raise your bent legs to a 90-degree angle. Work the obliques in this position by raising your upper body and turning it from side to side, aiming alternate shoulders toward opposite knees. Elbows are pointed out, hands lightly behind the head, eyes focused at a 45-degree angle. Baby can remain on your belly throughout.

3)      Leg Circles

For women who are stronger, you can follow crunches with wide leg-circles. Lying on the back, with one leg raised straight and reaching through the ball of the foot, draw big circles with the leg while minimizing movement in the pelvis and back. Advanced students may circle both legs simultaneously, grounding the pelvis at all times. Baby can rest on the belly throughout.

If you need a modification, place your feet against a wall for lower-back support, with the shins and thighbones at right angles to one another.

4)      Bridge Pose

Place baby on the belly while you inhale up and exhale down. You can also do a “baby bench press” on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor while you lift baby up and down just below the chest.

Standing Poses

1)      Warrior and Tree Pose

Balancing poses are especially important for focusing in postnatal classes, which—mirroring life—can be more chaotic than not. Many versions of the Warrior Pose can be done holding baby in the crease of the hip, or simply in the arms. Initially, try Tree Pose against the wall with baby in your arms. Advanced students may move away from the wall or, if he is not too heavy, raise baby overhead.

2)      Squats

Squats are a great exercise for mom to strengthen her core and leg muscles.  It’s just one of the all-time classics are great fun for babies and both calming and strengthening for moms. Either cuddle baby to your chest or hold older babies facing outward with back to you, while you drop slowly into a squat and come back up. Add intensity by lifting baby straight overhead or raising and lowering him in a bicep curl.

You can also do wide leg squats: walk the legs out wide, turn the feet out, toes wider than heels, and bend the knees. Babies can be held in a variety of positions. As they get older, you can use the position to help them learn to stand.

This is a nice pose to carry into the Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend. After folding forward and interlacing fingers behind the back, you can hold and swing baby, either facing you or the floor.

Seated Poses

One pose that baby can truly mimic is commonly known as the Bound Angle Pose. Sit with legs wide and the soles of the feet together, or with legs extended. Place baby in the same position in your lap. Do a gentle forward fold together.

For moms who are at least three months postpartum, the Full Boat Bose is a seated abdominal strengthener. Baby can lie in the belly, as if in a boat’s hold. Sit with legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend arms straight in front of you, shoulder-distance apart, palms facing each other. Lean back and balance on your sitting bones. Slowly lift your feet off the floor and extend legs straight, at a 45-degree angle, feet touching lightly, so your body makes a shallow V. Make sure you keep your chest lifted. To modify: Support your legs with your hands, or do the pose with your feet against the wall.

Following abdominal work in regular classes, many teachers offer twisting for release. Women with separated abs or those who are less than eight weeks postpartum should approach twisting with caution, experts say. Moms who are not yet twisting may lie flat on the floor with one leg extended. Roll over with the far leg bent, crossing the extended one and keeping the shoulder pressed into the floor.

As with anything that happens postpartum (and yes, I mean any and everything), be patient and gentle with your new strengths, weaknesses, and overall limitations. The majority of us moms can vouch for the fact that most things do change after childbirth but that can be embraced for the good of ourselves and our new yogi.

Be sure to get lots of information and help here:

Pregnancy Yoga from Week 12 to Week 40

Yoga at Home: Seven Simple Yoga Poses Anyone Can Do at Home

Baby Massage-“The Gift of Loving Touch”