I just walked out of my Baby Yoga and Play class with such a sense of wonder and reward. Parents connecting to each other and bonding with their little ones. Babies noticing each other and smiling in response to physical activity, playfulness and music. Yoga supports physical, neurological and emotional development beginning in infancy. Yoga classes for babies and caregivers also provide support for new, and second-time parents.
Many new parents feel isolated and alone, so connecting with other new parents is crucial for them. Amy Stone, in her article “Yoga to Bolster Baby”, from Yoga Journal, Aug. 28, 2007, describes this concisely: Parent/Baby yoga classes “aim to nurture parent/child bonding, deepen parents’ observations of their babies’ growth, and help parents actively participate in their babies’ neuromuscular development. Such classes allow parents a place to focus, relax, and enjoy movement with their children, under the guidance of an educated yoga teacher.” It is a gift for parents to have this one-on-one time with their babies to get to know them.
BENEFITS OF YOGA for BABIES
1. Sensory stimulation and awareness:
“Stimulation through the senses of touch, hearing, seeing, smelling, and tasting directly affect the sensory neurons and help in establishing these connections. According to research, an infant’s brain is producing 2-3 million synapses per second!” – Bright Hub Education
The unique physical movements and play of baby yoga provides them with sensory input they need to stimulate their vestibular and proprioceptive systems. I love to teach parents Infant Massage to the tune of “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. Tapping the sacrum, and foot and ankle massage, where there are many nerve endings, provides sensory input, thus calm their baby.
2. Kinesthetic-Vestibular and Proprioception: Babies are learning where they are in space. When movement and pressure are applied to baby’s feet and ankles, proprioceptors are activated, that send signals directly to the brain. This is very important in a child’s brain development.
3. Motor Development
4. Development of Vision
5. Development of Hearing
6. Language Development
7. Tummy Time: Puppy Pose, Kicking Cobra, Push to Crawl and Baby Plank are tummy time poses critical in developing strong head, neck, and shoulder muscles. Puppy Pose is a great opportunity for Sacrum Tapping, to the tune of “How Much is that Doggy in the Window” by Patti Page.
8. Music and singing play an important role in a baby yoga class. The rhythmic, mesmerizing, dynamic, playful and soothing qualities of music are a natural partner to the movement, games and relaxation that describe a baby yoga class. Music and rhyme can elicit such joy and promote parent/child bonding. Research has shown that music is important in forming vital brain connections that are established from birth to age 3, in the development of language, intelligence, coordination, emotional expression, creativity and socialization skills.
An important benefit of music and singing in child development for babies is in Memory/Learning – engaging the whole brain, by the multi-sensory input of music and movement, helping babies to retain new information. Infants will recognize the words associated with the poses.
Another important role of singing and music in an infant and toddler yoga class is that “it slows us down and communicates the pace”. By singing and using sing-song-speak, we slow our selves down and we communicate the pace at which we will move. These are beautiful moments to bond with our children, to observe who and where they are, and to play with them.
Music, sing-song, centering, eye contact, gentle touch, physical movement, “digestive” poses, parent stretches, tummy time, standing movement, massage, networking, rest. Sharing yoga with your baby will set the foundation for her lifelong habits, about relationships, and the ability to learn. What we do in Baby Yoga class supports her neuromuscular development and the parent/child bonding experience.