By Jen Garcin
Caring for a new baby is equal parts magical and challenging. A sore, achy body, sleep deprivation, and stress all come with the territory. Practicing yoga with your baby is beneficial for both of you! Babies who participate in baby-and-me yoga experience less colic, learn healthy habits early on, and have better sleep and digestion. Yoga helps caregivers bond with their baby and heal their bodies from pregnancy and childbirth as well as the aches and pains that come from caring for a little one. Baby-and-me yoga relieves stress for both you and baby.
Not sure where to get started? Here’s a baby-and-me starter sequence you can try out!
Modify this sequence as much as you need to in order to make this practice both comfortable and safe for you and your baby. Make sure to fully support baby’s head and neck if they are not yet holding up their head on their own. Practicing yoga includes being gentle and patient with yourself and your little one. A good way to practice this is to set an intention. Before you start, try telling your baby out loud that your mantra (a word or sound repeated frequently to aid in concentration or centering) during this yoga session is to practice love and grace. “Today, we are love and grace.” Another great mantra for a new mom is, “I am doing a great job!” Any intention or mantra works! Skipping this is perfectly fine too. Baby-and-me yoga is meant to be fun and relaxing. If a meltdown occurs, it’s okay! Try again later. A full belly and a clean diaper can help with baby’s experience. Before practicing this sequence, make sure you are 6+ weeks postpartum and have the all clear to exercise from your doctor.
1. Forward Fold with Baby Stretches
Start seated in an easy forward fold with baby laying on a mat or blanket in front of you. If your baby is mobile (can scoot, crawl, or walk), make sure you’ve properly baby-proofed your yoga space. You can have your feet touching, legs spread apart, or your legs in a criss-cross position. Start with some stretches for baby. Try holding their hands and moving their arms in a circle. Then hold on to their feet and move their legs like they’re on a bicycle (this helps so much with gas). Talk to your baby! Ask them if they’re ready for yoga and explain what you’re doing as you do it.
2. Cat/Cow Pose
Move on to your hands and knees and practice cat/cow pose. Not only will this pose begin to warm you up, but it is amazing for healing. It is great for your arms, shoulders, lower back, pelvic floor, and abdomen. Start slow and then pick up the pace. Go as slow or as fast as feels good in your body. Smile, talk to, and play with your baby. Moo in cow pose, and meow in cat pose!
Gently roll your baby onto their belly. Position yourself so your face hovers over your baby’s and with knees up or down (whichever is better for your body), lower into a chaturanga or push-up position. Give your baby a kiss!
4. Cobra or Upward-Facing Dog
Keeping your elbows tucked into your ribs, slide your chest through to cobra or upward-facing dog pose. In cobra, your belly and pelvis are on the floor, while in up-dog, only your hands and the tops of your feet are touching the floor. Hi Baby! Give your little one a smile, and maybe stick-out your tongue. Let your baby know that you’re doing tummy time together to stretch and strengthen all those important muscles that aid in rolling over, sitting up, standing, and more!
5. Downward-Facing Dog
Push your palms into the floor and transition into downward facing dog. Make sure you are engaging your abdomen here, and aim your chest towards your legs. Feet should be two fists distance apart. Try to get your heels to the floor, but don’t force anything. Each time you do this, you might get a centimeter closer. This is another opportunity to kiss that adorable baby face!
6. Warrior 1
Bring your right leg up and lunge it forward. Place your right foot in between your hands. Plant your back heel down at an angle. If you feel stable in this pose, lift your baby up as you bring your arms up. You can hold your baby above your head as you make a small arch between your shoulders and look up at their sweet face. For a younger baby, or if it’s more comfortable on your neck and shoulders, cradle baby to your chest. Place your little one down on the mat or blanket in front of you, go for another chaturanga or skip it, head back to down-dog, and repeat on the left side.
7. Chair Pose
With baby still in your arms, bring both feet together in a standing position. Now bend your knees, engage your abdomen, and lower your bottom as much as is comfortable. Make sure there is no dip in your lower back—keep it as straight as possible. Straighten your arms and let baby fly, or snuggle your little one at heart center. Pulse your legs by repeatedly bending and straightening for an added workout, or hold in a low chair pose to practice stability!
8. Tree Pose
Straighten your legs while holding your baby. Bring your right foot to your left calf, or if you feel very stable, to your left inner thigh. Hold the baby at your chest or let them fly by stretching your arms up.
9. Pigeon Pose
Gently put your baby down on their back. Make your way into a half or full pigeon pose. Use as many props underneath your pelvis as you need to be comfortable while still feeling a gentle stretch. Gently hold your babies ankles and stretch their little toes up to their ears, cheeks, and then nose. Describe this out loud. Perhaps sing the head, shoulders, knees, and toes song! Repeat, and then make sure to switch and do pigeon on your other side.
Lay with your baby in whatever position is comfortable for both of you. This is an awesome opportunity for meditation and skin-to-skin contact with your baby. Allow your body to be heavy on the floor and breathe deeply. Let all the benefits of your practice seep into you and your baby. Be careful not to fall asleep with baby unless you have another adult watching. If you would like this opportunity for both you and baby to take a nap, place baby in a safe sleep space like their bassinet, crib, or play yard and enjoy the relaxing effects of your yoga practice!
Good luck with your baby-and-me yoga practice—there are so many benefits for you and baby! If you try out our starter sequence, let us know how it went in the comments.
Jen Garcin is a proud mom of a human baby and two kittens. She had an exciting and fulfilling career in criminal justice reform before transitioning to her favorite job ever, being a stay-at-home mom to her daughter & boss, Eloise. She is also a certified yoga instructor. Jen is passionate about all issues related to motherhood, social justice, and dabbles in freelance writing and marketing consulting. She is super active in her local community, and hosts a monthly cookbook club.