Using Mom-Baby Yoga to Get your Postpartum Body Back into Shape
Your abdominal muscles stretch more than 50 percent over the course of your pregnancy. Many people associate yoga with New Age meditation or pretzel-like body poses, but in reality, it is a very practical and accessible form of exercise for people of many, varied body types. In particular, mom-baby yoga takes the traditional yoga practice of promoting controlled breathing and strengthening muscle tone and adapts it to suit the needs of new parents and their small children.
Exercise for Mom
The advantages of mom-baby yoga (such classes go by a variety of names, but web searches for “mom and baby yoga” or “postnatal yoga” will yield good results) are physical as well as emotional. This type of yoga is designed specifically to allow mothers and children to exercise while strengthening the bond between them. It focuses on strengthening the core muscles of the abdomen and lower back, which women often have trouble retraining after a pregnancy.
Benefits of these exercises for new mothers also include an opportunity for social interaction, and, unlike working out at a more traditional gym, these classes provide an environment sensitive to the needs of a mother with small children. Some yoga studios even provide toys to entertain toddlers as well as an additional instructor to supervise or hold fussy babies while mothers work out.
Health Benefits for Children
Babies as young as four weeks old can rest next to or in front of their mothers on a blanket or zafu, a pillow used in yoga practice. As another option, mothers might even choose to exercise with their babies during certain parts of the routine, which provides comfort for the child and additional resistance for the mother. The relaxed atmosphere and gentle movements can help reduce stress, gas pain, and colic as well as improve sleep and boost immunity in young children.
Older children can also benefit by performing many aspects of yoga practice themselves. Participation exposes children to the advantages of exercise by working on balance, flexibility, and body awareness. It also introduces the concept of meditation, which can help with self-discipline and focus.
Yoga’s Nurturing Environment
The unique nature of mom-baby yoga classes allows mothers to tend to their children as needed, whether that means feeding, changing diapers, or soothing them in some other way. Although there are many options for mothers to begin regaining, or perhaps developing for the first time, muscle strength and tone, practicing yoga with their baby provides exercise for both body and spirit.