So let’s be honest 🙂 , mum & baby yoga, is not relaxing yoga! It can be cute yoga, or fun yoga… but it is not relaxing yoga! Nor is it likely to be the deep or fulfilling practice you may be used to when you’re on your own.
That being said, it is an excellent way to get some movement into your day, and a chance to add loads of cuteness fuel to the cuteness tank. And if you’re going to a class, it’s a great way to meet with other mamas. ( … “I’m up every hour”… “Me too!!!..”)
Here are 10 yoga-inspired exercises that I love to do with baby. She thinks they’re hilarious. Prenatal and postnatal yoga is all about accommodating, so don’t be shy to adapt, and to –
Add some sounds!
Look at baby right in the eyes!
They usually like it, a lot!
And of course, at any time, take a pause to see to any overwhelming urge to kiss the schnitzel out of your baby, or to change a diaper.
Some warnings :
*Watch out for dangling bits (clothes, hair, boobs, etc.) – a sure attraction for little hands and fingers
*Some poses will likely bring upon a desire to feed.. go with it if you please!
*If baby ate not too long ago, watch out for unexpected regurgitation (was recently host to yet another).
#1: BREATHING WITH BABY WARM-UP
Sitting with legs crossed or in butterfly, sit baby in your lap and hold her back against your belly. Keeping the spine tall, let the eyes close, and enjoy as many breaths as you can here, simply feeling the movement of the breath in your body. (Hallelujah)
Do a few very gentle circles with the head, in both directions.
Then come back to just sitting and take another few moments to breathe, feeling your breath and all the little movements baby’s making too.
Yoga is a form of mindfulness meditation in movement. By bringing our attention simply to what is there at this moment, we recenter ourselves.
*You can also practice belly breathing here, filling the abdomen like a balloon on the inhale, and letting the air slowly and gently out on the exhale.
*Another breathing technique that can be practiced here is Ujjayi breathing (also a wonderful calming tool for baby).
#2: SIDE STRETCHES
Keeping the same seated position (with baby in your lap), hold baby with your left hand and inhale your right arm up and over, giving the right body a lovely side stretch. Exhale return to center. Repeat on the other side. 3-5 times each side.
* Keep both bum bones on the ground as best you can
* You can add a straddled-leg variation at any time during your practice
*Breathe deeply, sigh if you like!
#3: MOVING CHILD’S POSE PEEK-A-BOO
In Mama Baby Yoga, if you try just holding a pose, there’s a good chance you’ll start getting kicked or squirmed on very quickly, so I like to add movement and giggles to the poses. Child’s Pose is one of my favorite poses, especially for mamas and mamas-to-be. It’s such a gentle way to feel connected to the earth and to let go of tension in the body and mind.
Baby’s at the top of the mat, lying down or sitting. Placing your hands at about where baby’s feet are, extend back into Child’s Pose. (You can keep the knees mat-width apart to leave plenty of room for the boobs.) Arms remain long, inhale come up towards baby and here, add a peek-a-boo, or a funny face, or just a love-filled smile, then on the exhale, return back to Child’s Pose.
Inhale up (peek-a-boo!), exhale back down. 5-8 repetitions, staying in Child’s Pose at the end for as many breaths as you like.
*Focus on deepening the hip creases each time you exhale into Child’s Pose (feels soooo good!)
*Keep palms and fingers rooted into the ground
*Arms remain strong
*Feel a full breath throughout the body
*Again, see how it feels to sigh as you exhale
*Try giving baby all sorts of funny faces or sounds each time you inhale up towards them, THEY WILL LOVE IT!
#4: CRESCENT KISS
Baby remains at the top of the mat, lying down or sitting. Come into a Low Crescent Lunge position, left foot forward, (keeping the back knee bent on the ground). Inhale arms and gaze to the sky. On the exhale, come into modified plank, bend the elbows for a “mini-push-up” and kiss baby!
Inhale the other foot forward into Low Crescent Lunge, exhale half-plank, “mini-push-up” and kiss! 2-5 times each side.
*Keep the hips square
*Think of very gently bringing the inner thighs towards each other while in the lunge, to gently activate the adductors and the pelvic floor
*Bend the elbows towards the back of the mat as you “mini-push-up”, think Chaturanga!
#5: MINI COBRA (OR HEART SHINE TO BABY!)
With baby still at the top of the mat, lying down or sitting, lay flat on your front with your forehead touching the mat. The elbows are bent towards the sky with hands flat on the ground at mid rib cage level (like in Chaturanga) and the legs are strong with the big-toe-mounds touching.
As if to lead the movement with your heart, inhale into a mini-cobra and exhale come back down.
Imagine that you want your heart to “shine” towards your baby!
*Try to keep the shoulder blades moving towards the back pelvis
*Think of slightly pressing the pubic bone into the ground to keep the abdominal muscles engaged.
#6: HIP CIRCLES WITH KEGELS
This little exercise is a great way to start adding movement to your Kegel work once you’ve practiced Kegels on their own.
Incorporating movement to any Kegel work will help the body to integrate the exercises by creating connections with and strengthening the deep core muscles.
Standing with legs shoulder-width apart, place baby on one hip. Start moving the hips in circles. Then.. add Kegels! Hold the Kegel action, or do Kegel repetitions, but see how it feels to keep the pelvic floor activated as you move the hips.
Place baby on the other hip, and repeat, changing the direction of the hip circles. 30-60 seconds on each side.
*If you’re feeling vivacious (as new moms usually do….. 😉 ), widen the stance and bend the knees a bit more. Let the hips move with “wider” hip circles, while still integrating Kegel work.
*Important to keep breathing the whole time (if you find that you lose your breath, take a pause and start anew)
*Can be done with or without baby!
#7: “…FLYING BABYYYY…!! “
Come into standing position with the feet about shoulder-distance apart, holding baby facing you. Bend the knees slightly and inhale here. On the exhale push the arms up above your head, baby hovers over you, as if he’s “FLYING..
“BABYYYY!!!”… I actually say it as I exhale baby up and over. She loves it!!!
Inhale baby returns against your body (“FLYING”), exhale, baby comes up (“BABYYYYY!”).
*Keep the feet “parallel”, with the toes pointing towards the front of the mat.
*Keep the shoulders down as you raise baby up
*Try to glue the bellybutton in towards the spine as you exhale baby up so as to keep the core strong and protect the lower back by not over-arching it
*You can also do the “Flying Baby” lying on your back (same position as in Exercises #9 and #10).
#8: WARRIOR DANCE
Standing poses help us build strength, balance and confidence. Here’s a way to do Warrior I and Warrior II, with baby!
Step your left foot forward for Warrior I lunge. Holding baby with your left hand, sit him facing inwards on your upper thigh. Inhale right arm up for Warrior I and hold here for a few breaths.
To come into Warrior II, simply turn towards the other end of the mat, so that your right foot is forward in a lunge. You’re still holding baby with your left hand on your left hip. Inhale right arm in front of you for Warrior II and hold a few breaths here.
Repeat on the other side.
#9: PELVIC TILTS
Pelvic tilts are a great way to start “reigniting” your core muscles after pregnancy and birth (and they’re also a wonderful tool for easing back pain during pregnancy).
Lying down on your back, bend the knees, keeping the knees and the feet hip-width apart. Sit and hold baby on your hips.
Inhale, press the sacrum (the triangular-shaped bone at the bottom of the spine) into the ground so that the lower back arches off the floor, exhale to scoop the sacrum upwards so that the lower back presses into the floor.
Inhale, sacrum presses into the ground, exhale, sacrum scoops up. Repeat anywhere between 20-40 times.
* You can also do Diastisis Touch-Downs in this position if you would like to continue working the core muscles.
#10: HALF BRIDGE UP-DOWNS
Still lying on your back with knees bent and baby sitting on your hips, inhale here. On the exhale, push into the ground with your feet to raise the hips up of the mat. Inhale, gently bring the pelvis back towards the floor. Exhale, raise, inhale, back down, following a slow, steady breath. Repeat 10-15 times.
Adding Kegels to your Half Bridge Up-Downs can help with minor prolapse and is a gentle way to start integrating pelvic floor exercises into your routine.
To do so, each time you exhale up, activate the pelvic floor muscles. On the inhale relax the pelvic floor as you return the hips towards the mat.
*Make sure the knees and feet remain hip-width apart
*Don’t squeeze the bum muscles too hard, think firm but not rock-hard! 🙂
At the end of your practice, if it’s at all possible (!), take a moment to lay still, on your back or side to let your body and mind relax and take in the practice you’ve just done.
You are doing a wonderful, infinitely beautiful and fantastic job! With all of my heart I salute you. xxxxxx
Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also the mother of a beautiful toddler son and brand new baby daughter (oh the love!). I believe deeply in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→