You may be surprised to learn that you don't need a sitter to find time for fitness!
Practicing yoga with your baby is highly beneficial to both of you. Holding your child during certain postures will help you strengthen your body and improve your flexibility and balance. In addition to relieving stress and postpartum depression, many mothers find that practicing yoga with their infants helps soothe colic, improves sleep patterns, and aids in infant digestion.
Poses for Two
Setting your baby at the top of your yoga mat and engaging her in eye contact or touching her whenever you are close to the floor is a simple way to engage your little one during a workout. For more of a mother-child routine, Laura Staton and Sarah Perron, co-authors and co-founders of Baby Om, suggest the following postures for you to try together.
- Half Wheel Pose (Setu Bandhasana): Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, your knees in line with your feet. Sit your baby on your abdomen and support her under her armpits with your hands (her seat should be at your belly button). Keeping your feet firmly planted, press your shoulders into the floor and lift up your hip bones. Hold, then slowly roll back down until your spine is on the floor. Repeat. Be sure to keep your abdominal muscles active and tight throughout the pose. Half Wheel Pose is especially good for relieving backaches and strengthening the abdominals.
- Flying Child Pose: Begin by lying on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Rest your baby on your shins (facing you) with your hands around her ribs, fingers spread. Slowly bring your knees in towards your face until you can kiss her on the forehead, then extend your legs back away from your body; try to keep your legs parallel to the floor throughout this exercise. You can add gentle bounces and swings to this pose as you and your baby become more confident. Another variation is to extend your feet up towards the ceiling and guide your baby in a controlled "slide" down to your abdomen. This exercise is great for soothing a fussy baby, strengthening your abdominal muscles, and relaxing a tense or sore back.
- Baby Press: Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Rest your baby on your chest so that you both are belly-to-belly. Firmly, but gently, grip her torso with your hands and lift her off your chest until your arms are extended. (For an enjoyable variation, add figure eights to this exercise.) Bring her back down to your chest and repeat. This exercise strengthens your arms and shoulders.
- Navel Sweeps: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place your baby belly-to-belly on your chest or sit her on your abdomen (as in Half Wheel Pose). Extend one leg outward, just off the floor and hold a moment; then raise it slowly toward the ceiling. Bring the leg slowly back down until it reaches the floor, and then draw the leg in until your knee touches your chest. Repeat three to five times. This is another good exercise for strengthening the abdominals and getting rid of the dreaded jelly belly.