Amidst a growing number of play schools in the metro that offer physical activities for babies comes a new fitness alternative that parents may be interested to get into.
In the U.S., experts are looking into the benefits that babies can receive from practicing yoga. This, of course, would be comprised of modified poses that are safe for babies’ developing bodies, with the assistance of their parents, of course.
What are the advantages of practicing parent-baby yoga? Advocates say it helps strengthen the bond between parent and child, as well as develop the infant’s motor skills. With the increased sensitivity and awareness of one’s body brought about by yoga, baby yoga is also expected to help parents be more attuned to their child’s needs.
In the same manner that the foundation of adult yoga is regulated breathing, stretching and relaxation, baby yoga involves gentle stretches as well as poses to help improve muscle strength, muscle tone, coordination, and balance. Plus, it can be quite an enjoyable activity as well! All of baby’s senses are stimulated, aided by singing with the movements in order to create a smooth and paced rhythm.
Some poses that require moving the baby’s legs are also believed to aid in digestion. Another benefit said of baby yoga is that it helps babies sleep better, although these two claims still need to be backed up by research.
Apart from these benefits, recent studies have shown that since yoga is a form of self-massage and it stimulates pressure receptors on the skin, it helps slow down the amount of stress hormones produced. Helen Garabedian, founder of a yoga studio for babies and kids, notes, "When the yoga masters…were creating yoga poses, I think they really watched an infant's body move.”
For example, making baby practice yoga poses on his tummy can actually help strengthen his neck and upper body, says Dr. Teri McCambridge, division director of sports medicine at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Learn more about the benefits of tummy time as an exercise here.
Still, like any other baby activity, parents should practice precaution so as to not put unneeded strain or cause risk or injury to the baby due to overstretching, for example. Parents have to note as well that babies can’t properly hold up and control their heads until they are at least 6 months old, so only certain poses may be practiced depending on the child’s age.