Little Yogis: Bond with Your Baby

After giving birth, the last thing most of us are thinking about is exercise. And, for good reason: your body has been through the ringer the last nine months — not to mention the marathon of labor and the exhausting nature of life with a newborn!

But after you’ve healed (and been cleared for exercise by your OB!), a gentle workout routine may be just what you need to begin to refresh, strengthen and re-energize! But, with a newborn, leaving for a date at the gym is not really a feasible option. So, you need something you can either do during nap time, or with your baby.

Baby (and Mommy) yoga is the perfect postnatal workout, combining a series of stretches for baby, strength moves for mom — and bonding for both. Here’s what you’ll need to get started!

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Baby & Mommy Yoga: What You’ll Need

  • A yoga mat (this is a good one because it has hand/feet placement. Even if you’re more advanced, your baby will like looking at the drawings!)
  • A soft blanket for your baby to lay on
  • Comfy clothing for mom and babe
  • A CD or playlist with soothing music
  • A toy, book or stuffed animal to entertain your baby

Getting Started

If you’ve done yoga before, you can begin with a few sun salutations to warm up — chatturangas, Warriors, the whole shebang.

But if you’re new to yoga, or simply wanting to ease more gently into exercising your postpartum body, feel free to follow a modified sun salutation:

  • Begin in mountain pose: stand tall, chin forward, shoulders back, hands at heart.
  • Bend at your waist, palms to the floor, press upper thighs back, eyes gazing back, belly flexed into a forward fold.
  • Gaze upward, fingertips touching floor, back straight in a halfway lift.
  • Forward fold again.
  • Bend knees slightly, sweeping arms like wings, lifting eyes upward, returning back to a standing mountain pose.

Repeat this sequence a few times, really focusing on stretching, breathing and reconnecting to your body.

Baby Weight(s)

Now that you’re warmed up, it’s time for a few strengthening moves! Holding your baby in front of you, begin with a few rounds of squats, bending at the knees and working deep into your quads and glutes. Want an added challenge? Try raising your baby up as you lower down, smiling at your babe as you go.

Next, try lunging across the room, alternating legs, using your baby’s weight as added resistance. To maximize the benefits of this exercise, activate your core muscles, pull your shoulders back, and focus on tightening and toning your legs as you lunge.

Once you’ve returned to your mat, try coming into tree pose while holding your baby: pull your stomach muscles tight, and slowly raise one foot into “tree” by resting it at your ankle, calf, thigh, or even lotus. This is a great pose for working on balance, coordination and core strength — things that get compromised with pregnancy!

When doing tree, do not place your foot on your knee. Doing so puts your knee in danger of injury because the knee cannot bend in the direction in which that force is being applied. That’s why you should place your foot either above or below the knee — even resting your toes on the floor is perfectly ok!

Warming Up Baby

By now your baby might be getting tired or cranky, so let’s get him involved! Begin by laying your baby on his back and gently bicycling his legs in circles. Next, criss cross one leg gently across the other to open his hips and stretch out the entire sides of the body. Finish by taking both feet and bending the knees into his tummy, or taking “toes to the nose” for older infants.

Note: these leg stretches are great for relieving constipation in your infant!

Next, move up to the arms. Gently massage each of your baby’s arms, starting at the shoulder and moving down to the bicep, forearm and finally, hand. Then, gently holding her hands, ask your baby, “How much does Mommy love you?” Then, opening your baby’s arms wide, answer, “So much!” Do this a few times, smiling and maintaining eye contact with your little one, who will probably respond with smiles and laughs.

Now, we’ll come to seated. If your baby is still very small, you can simply sit her in your lap, facing outward (if you’re in a room with a mirror available, position yourself/the mirror so that your little one can see herself). For older babies with better head/neck control, you can assist them to sitting by holding their hands and gently pulling them to seated and/or standing, repeating “up, up, up, up, up!” while you do it.

Position your baby comfortably on your lap — then warm up your vocal chords! Some fun, active songs to sign with your baby include “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Gently move your baby’s hands and feet accordingly. Another fun rhyme is:

Popcorn
move baby to left
Popcorn
move baby to right
Pour it in the pan
move baby to left and hold him there like you’re “pouring” him
Popcorn
move baby to right
Popcorn
move baby to left
Bam! Bam! Bam!
bounce your baby gently up and down on your lap, like popcorn popping!

All of this stretching, singing and moving will likely tire your baby out, so finish by taking a few deep breaths, hugging your baby close so that you’re heart to heart. After this workout, you’ll both feel stronger, calmer and sleepier — so, if you can, go enjoy a nap together! At the very least, you should both sleep a little better that night!


For more fun exercises you can do with your little one, check out The Mom Workout! And check out our official Get Fit 2015 page for all the initiative posts in one place.

 Photo credits: Sarah M., Jessica Quinn, tricsr4kidz.

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Sarah

Sarah is a yoga practicing, mostly vegan, coffee chugging, Jack White-loving, stay-at-home-mom to three kids 4 and under in Cincinnati, Ohio. In her free time, she does freelance work for Cincinnati Parent, Dayton Parent and Indy's Child, and blogs about her adventures with three kids in the Queen City.

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