By Meaghan Burridge
Yoga is a beautiful thing. It’s an ancient practice that is as relevant today in 2014 as it was thousands of years ago. Yoga has been a presence in my life for a decade; it has followed me through many life changes and stages and has eased all the ups and downs those changes bring.
Since my daughter was born in 2012 I’ve experienced the joy of practicing yoga with her. At first, she lay near my mat gazing at me in my yoga poses. But now she alternates between mimicking me and climbing all over me. She loves to take a big, big, BIG breath in and stretch her arms up high! And then we let out all the breath and relax everything with a big sigh. I like to think that she remembers the feel of the breath and the gist of the movement from her time in my womb when I practiced regularly as a way to connect and relax and prepare for our big Birth Day.
This experience has shown me first hand why yoga for babies and children has become so very popular. “Mom & Baby” yoga classes are popping up everywhere! And for good reason, moms who practice yoga during pregnancy want to continue feeling strong and relaxed as they settle into motherhood. They also want to expose their babies to the calm, quiet, peace that yoga offers.
These classes are often geared towards the mom. They offer a gentle physical practice that’s suited for the postpartum experience paired with breathing, visualization and meditation techniques to support a strong bond with baby and deep relaxation (which new moms need so badly). It’s also a place to meet other new parents and to exercise in an environment that’s baby-friendly (breastfeeding, diaper changing & all kinds of baby sounds are welcome and expected!). For baby, these classes are an opportunity to see new sights, hear new sounds and to be exposed to the empowering, self-loving message of yoga. It sets children up to expect a calm environment around them and arms them with the tools (or at least, sets the groundwork for the tools which will come later) to find peace, relaxation and a strong sense of self-worth in their own lives. In a modern life that is so full of busyness, it’s never too early to expose children to a more quiet and healthy way of living.
One thing that mom & baby yoga does not involve is aggressive physical manipulations of the baby’s body. No swinging, flipping or throwing here! Unfortunately there is a video making the Internet rounds that shows just these things, and calls it “Baby Yoga”!
**Warning: video contains footage of infants being treated in a manner which many consider to be physically and/or emotionally harmful. Viewer discretion is advised.**
Nothing, in my opinion, could be further from the truth. Yoga is a personal practice that each individual does for themselves and to themselves…it’s not something that is done to you as the woman is doing to the baby in this video. It’s unfortunate that this video has gone viral and that it will serve as most people’s only exposure to yoga for babies. But we can all offer a glimpse of what yoga really is. Share this article and let’s show our friends, family and the wider world what “baby yoga” is really about!
Meaghan Burridge is a mom and yoga teacher in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada. She teaches Alignment-Based Hatha Yoga that is firmly rooted in both the sacred spiritual tradition of yoga and a modern understanding of the physical body. She loves to cook, hike the beautiful East Coast Trail and do deep backbends in her yoga practice. 2014 is all about simplifying for Meaghan and her family. You can follow her happenings at meaghanburridge.wordpress.com.