Yoga, Baby! (A Pictorial Tutorial)

Written by Emily Bartnikowski on June 2nd, 2011

General, Healthy Living, Keeping Active
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“Grown ups and children must join their forces. In order to become great, the grown up must be humble and learn from the child.” – Maria Montessori

I was grouchy. And we all know that grouchy mama = grouchy household. Weaning, yet no slowdown in night wakings, plus travel the previous weekend, plus the endless cycle of chores and what I needed was to breathe and move. Yoga would be perfection. A nice, solid hour of breathing and stretching, moving into poses that were challenging but attainable. Yoga is like a drug and I needed it. I need it almost daily, actually.

And here is the conundrum: how do I get in a decent practice with a barnacle who is not yet walking, and certainly not yet talking, but who likes to be on mama as much as possible? I am not the only one who faced this hiccup in her yoga practice.

Here is where the illustrious Ms. Montessori steps in and informs my mothering: follow the child. Children are flexible, children like new activities, and children prefer it when mom is feeling calm and fulfilled. My practice can adjust so that I am both present for me and present for him. I just have to pay attention and be prepared. (Setting up shop in a prepared environment is ideal, so you are not constantly intervening or redirecting your child from enticing but dangerous objects. I practice in our office.)

Step 1: Set your intention (and bring drinks and snacks.)

Step 2: Accept cuddles…and turn them into a ride.

Step 3: Allow yourself to become what your child needs. At one point while I was in downward dog, he needed my arms and shoulders to be a mountain for his car.

Step 4: Encourage movement. Your are your child’s best example and cheerleader. If you invite him, he will follow.Step 5:  Pause. He needs to be right there, and you need to take a few more deep breaths before leaning forward into crow.

Step 6: Make silly faces. This is group practice, after all.

Step 7: Pause together. Applaud every effort. Also, be flexible in your practice. Child’s pose was not part of this sequence, but he moved into it and smiled invitingly. Who am I to deny that? And if the sequence takes five or ten more minutes, well that’s just five or ten minutes more of yoga that I get to enjoy.

Step 8: Relax. It’s just yoga. It’s just a few moments in time. Breathe, and enjoy the feeling of little hands and knees and cars and kisses.

So that’s it: 8 steps to Yoga with your not-quite toddler. Embrace the crumbs.

The sequence I did was from Yoga Journal, and can be found here. I also like the free session at Yoga Today, which changes weekly. For a nominal fee, you can also subscribe and purchase downloadable hour-long practices. GREAT for those of us with limited childcare options. If you have a younger child, this a is a nice video for easing gas and colic, and my son LOVED stretching over my yoga ball. If you have an older child, here’s a nice photo series for a sequence. Finally, a few resources for healthful family life can be found here.

Good luck and Namaste.

Photo credits: Author

About The Author: Emily Bartnikowski

Emily B emmieb My NPN Posts

Emily is a wife, mother, photographer, and aspiring novelist. She blogs about parenting and life at Embrita Blogging.

7 Responses to Yoga, Baby! (A Pictorial Tutorial)

  1. Dena

    I love it! Since having my son, who is one, I have focused mainly on finding time for me to practice yoga. While I don’t want to give that up, I think I will try this too. Thanks, this is very exciting!

  2. Amanda

    My personal favorite is the face. Fantastic.

  3. Jenn  

    I love this so much! I think children can become naturals at yoga. I never understood where “child’s pose” got its name until my son executed it perfectly when he got mad when he didn’t want to hold my hand at Target. My husband was upset that he was lying on the floor of the store, and I was excited: “That’s child’s pose! Child’s pose!”

    I’ve been doing my yoga before my son wakes up – maybe that’s a mistake. I’ll try including him tomorrow morning. I bet he’ll like it.

  4. Emily  

    I’m so glad you’re enjoying yoga with your babies! Yoga Today put up this great ten minute kid- oriented session: http://youtu.be/EmeTZGr_R5Q

    my son LOVES the hand shaking part.

    happy yogaing!

  5. kelly @kellynaturally  

    This is wonderful! We have a set of picture yoga cards at home that we all sit around & practice from. It may not always be a serene experience, but it’s a learning and connecting one!

  6. Emily  

    I have a set of those cards on my wishlist – and there are little figurines in yoga poses that I’ve got my eye on as well. I feel that when he’s a little older it can be a way for him to “lead” our yoga session.

  7. Amy  

    Love this, Emily! Thank you :)

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