Mini Yoga Manual

Parents Manual

     

The Experience of movement combined with touch is possibly the richest stimulation we can offer babies from birth. In yoga this stimulation occurs through the mutual involvement of parent and baby, at a pace at which the baby can absorb and integrate it. As yoga postures induce deep relaxation in adults, so in babies they bring about a state of great contentment and promote peaceful sleep.

Francoise Freedman
Author Baby Yoga and founder of Birthlight

 

Contents

Benefits for Babies

Emotional and Psychological Benefits

Benefits for Parents

Yoga Overview

Parent Positions and Stretches

Baby Positions and Stretches

Sonic Massage

Songs, Rhymes & Sequences

 

 

 

Benefits for Babies

There are a host of benefits to be gained from yoga exercises, no matter what your age. The physiological effects are particularly well documented, but baby yoga goes far beyond these as it can have a positive influence on the emotional and cognitive development of the baby too.

The Physiological Benefits of Baby Yoga

The main physiological benefits of regular yoga include:-

  • Strengthening and improving muscle tone
  • Maintaining flexibility in the spine and joints
  • Improving the general functioning of the immune system
  • Regulating and strengthening the digestive system which may reduce the discomfort of colic wind and constipation
  • Stimulating and balancing the nervous system
  • Stimulating the senses
  • Improving blood flow
  • Helping with detoxification and movement of lymph
  • Stimulating the production of Oxytocin. (The hormone responsible for love and bonding and associated with the ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships and healthy psychological boundaries with other people.)

Yoga can also:-

  • Be relaxing and calming, which can reduce the heart rate and lead to a better sleep pattern
  • Help with general growth and development
  • Support the development of the vestibular system
  • Help the development of postural reflexes
  • Enhance body awareness
  • Increase babies ability to cope with future challenges

 

The Emotional and Psychological Benefits of Yoga

The physiological benefits are only one aspect of the overall benefits that can be associated with baby yoga. What also needs to be considered are the emotional and psychological benefits for the baby, of which there are many. If parents understand how important it is to honour their child’s wishes, and only practice yoga with them if they say “yes” to the activity, they will help the developing child realise that they are entitled to be heard and that their feelings are understood and more importantly honoured.

Baby yoga can potentially help:-

  • With the bond between parent and baby
  • Enhance a baby’s feeling of being loved, respected and secure
  • Build trust and a mutual understanding
  • Promote relaxation which can improve quality of sleep
  • A baby learn to interact and play with others

The physiological, psychological and emotional benefits, although seemingly separate are indeed entwined. Therefore, Baby Yoga necessarily offers the parents the opportunity to holistically nurture their developing child and is a celebration of the individuality of each baby.

 

 

Benefits for Parents

As a parent does the yoga exercise with their baby, it may help to enhance their knowledge of their baby, as they steadily gain an understanding of what their baby is “telling” them during the exercises.

If a parent is able to understand whether a baby is saying “yes” or “no” to yoga then they are subsequently more likely to be able to understand whether a baby is trying to “tell” them during their day-to-day activities as well. Baby Yoga is therefore a very empowering tool for parents as it may help to improve their self-esteem and confidence in their parenting skills.

Baby Yoga Can Help Parents:-

  • Have confidence and competence in handling their baby
  • To understand their babies non-verbal cues
  • Develop a feeling of closeness with their baby
  • Heal after a difficult or traumatic birth
  • When suffering from post-natal depression
  • To relax with their baby
  • Learn breathing techniques
  • Learn deeper relaxation techniques
  • To improve their physical wellbeing as the session includes simple relaxation, breathing exercise and stretching exercise

It may also:-

  • Encourage the nurturing instinct through the stimulation of Oxytocin
  • Encourage deep feelings of well-being, joy, bliss, personal power, peace, gratitude, personal freedom
  • Encourage greater mental clarity

 

 

Baby Yoga

YOGA FOR BABIES

 

 

PARENT POSITIONS AND STRETCHES

 

GENERAL SEATED YOGA POSE

Easy Seated Pose

  • Sit cross-legged on the floor
  • Lean forward to ensure that you are seated high on the “sit-bones”
  • Lengthen the back and lift the chest
  • Relax the shoulders and jaw
  • Relax hands on knees
  • Relax the stomach

Tips

  • Sit cross-legged but change to the leg that is least comfortable. This will stretch any tightness on your less flexible side and balance your body.
  • If the pose becomes too uncomfortable, as an alternative adjust your position and bring one leg out to the side where it is comfortable.
  • Your baby can be on the mat in front of you, resting in your lap or sitting.

Benefits

  • This pose opens your hips and the abductor muscles of your thighs
  • This is an easy seated pose that most people can manage for the breathing and stretching exercises

 

 

 

POSITIONS FOR BABY

 

TUCK TO TUMMY

Suitable for 8 weeks onwards

  • Support baby’s ankles and lower legs in each hand
  • Bend legs at the knee
  • Very gently bring the thighs up towards the tummy
  • Hold for a count of 5
  • Relax the legs down again
  • Repeat 5 times

Tips

  • Take care not to press too hard on the legs and the hip area
  • Allow the hip joint to open in their natural position (so the legs are slightly parted)

Benefits

  • This is an excellent exercise to warm up the groin area
  • Prepares the groin for the Lotus exercise
  • This is a traditional yoga movement that helps release trapped wind
  • This movement may relieve colic
  • Relaxes the tummy muscles
  • Gently stretches the muscles of the lower back and buttocks.

 

 

 

TUMMY & TWIST

 

Suitable for 8 weeks onwards

  • Support baby’s ankles and lower legs in each hand
  • Bend legs at the knee
  • Bring the bent knees together in alignment
  • Move them from left to right
  • Press firmly on each side of the abdomen
  • Gently bring the thighs up towards the tummy

Tips

  • Don’t bring the knees together just align them with the hips
  • Take care not to cut off your baby’s breathing

Benefits

  • This posture slightly twists the base of your baby’ s spine
  • This is an excellent exercise to warm up the groin area
  • Prepares the groin for the Lotus exercise
  • This is a traditional yoga movement that helps release trapped wind
  • This movement may relieve colic
  • Relaxes the tummy muscles
  • Gently stretches the muscles of the lower back and buttocks.

 

 

TUMMY & TURN

Suitable for 8 weeks onwards

  • Support both ankles and lower legs with the hands
  • Gently bring the knees together
  • Rest the thighs on the baby’s tummy
  • Support the legs in a bent knee position
  • Slowly circle the hips in a clockwise direction
  • The thighs will give the baby’s tummy a gentle massage

Tips

  • Work with the baby’s flexibility and muscle resistance
  • Do not force the baby’s knees beyond the point of comfort
  • Bring the thighs up onto to the abdomen
  • Stop if there is any resistance
  • Take care not to cut off your baby’s breathing
  • It is advisable to avoid this exercise if the baby shows any signs of hip displacement
  • If in any doubt please check with a medical practitioner b efore practicing this exercise 

Benefits

  • Maintains flexibility in the hip joints
  • Promotes suppleness
  • Tones the muscles in the abdomen and back including the deeper muscles at the base of the spine
  • Helps promote a healthy digestive system, relieving gas and constipation

 

 

SOLE TO SOLE & ROLY ROUND

 

Suitable for 8 weeks onwards

Sole to sole

  • Support baby’s ankles in each hand
  • Bring the soles of the feet together
  • Hold both the feet together
  • Gently push the feet towards the tummy and then ease off
  • Keep hold of the feet with the soles together

Suitable for 8 weeks onwards Roly Round

  • Support baby’s ankles in each hand and bring the soles of the feet together
  • Push the feet towards the tummy and gently move the legs in a circular movement around each other, one way then the other

Tips

  • Work with the baby’s flexibility, stop if there is any resistance
  • It is advisable to avoid this exercise if the baby shows any signs of hip displacement. If in any doubt please check with a medical practitioner before practicing this exercise

Benefits

  • Promotes flexibility and suppleness of baby’s hips
  • Relaxes the tummy muscles and gently stretches the muscles of the lower back and buttocks.

 

 

LOTUS

 

** CAUTION NEVER FORCE THIS MOVEMENT STOP IF YOU FEEL ANY RESISTANCE **

Suitable for 8 weeks

  • Gently take the baby’s left leg
  • Gently move the left foot to the right inner thigh
  • Hold the pose gently
  • Then repeat on the other leg

Tips

  • Work with the baby’s flexibility, stop if there is any resistance
  • It is advisable to avoid this exercise if the baby shows any signs of hip displacement. If in any doubt please check with a medical practitioner before practicing this exercise

Benefits

  • Promotes flexibility and suppleness
  • Tones the muscles in the abdomen and back including the deeper muscles at the base of the spine
  • Creates a natural balance throughout the mind, body and spirit
  • Enhances relaxation

 

 

LEG RAISE & RELEASE

 

Suitable for 8 weeks onwards

  • Support baby’s buttocks with both hands
  • Gently stroke down the back of the legs to the ankles
  • Lift the legs slightly
  • Gently stretch the legs, whilst supporting the ankles
  • Take the hands away
  • Let the legs drop to the mat gently

Tips

  • Take care not to stretch the baby’s legs too vigorously
  • Try not to lift your baby’s hips off the floor (this is demonstrated later in the course)
  • If you have a really relaxed baby you may need to catch their legs when you say “relax”

Benefits

  • Gently stretches the muscles in the legs
  • Gently stretches the muscles of the lower back and buttocks.

 

 

SUN STRETCH

 

Suitable for 8 Weeks onwards

  • Gently hold the babies wrists
  • Slowly bring them up over their face
  • Open them out in a wide circle
  • Repeat

Adaptations

  • If the baby can support their own head and back this exercise can be done whilst the baby is in the sitting position, supported by the parents tummy

Tips

  • For many of the exercises that involve both the baby’s hands, they may prefer to keep their hands near their mouths which may prove difficult. If they cannot be encouraged to join in, move on to the next exercise and come back to this another day.

Benefits

  • Stretches the back and the muscles between the shoulder blades
  • Maintains flexibility in the shoulder joints and expands the chest

 

 

REACH & RELAX

 

Suitable for 8 Weeks onwards

  • Gently hold the babies wrists
  • Slowly and gently stretch the baby’s arms out to the side
  • Bring both arms up to the baby’s ears
  • Bring the arms back down to their sides

Adaptations

  • If the baby can support their own head and back this exercise can be done whilst the baby is in the sitting position, supported by the parents tummy

Tips

  • Work with the baby’s flexibility. Do not force beyond the point of resistance
  • Try to keep the arms reasonable straight

Benefits

  • Stretching and relaxing
  • Expands the chest for improved breathing
  • Maintains flexibility in the shoulder joints

 

 

LOVE HUG

 

Suitable for 6 Weeks onwards

  • Gently hold the babies wrists
  • Slowly stretch their arms out to the sides
  • Bring the arms back to the chest
  • Cross Baby’s arms over each other (as if they were hugging)
  • Gently stretch the arms out to the sides again
  • Repeat alternating which hand is on top each time

Adaptations

  • If the baby can support their own head and back this exercise can be done whilst the baby is in the sitting position, supported by the parents tummy
  • Depending on the baby’s mood this exercise can be done slowly or swiftly

Tips

  • For many of the exercises that involve both the baby’s hands, they may prefer to keep their hands near or in their mouths which may prove difficult. If they cannot be encouraged to join in, simply move on to the next exercise and come back to this another day.

Benefits

  • Stretches the muscles between the shoulder blades
  • Maintains flexibility in the shoulder joints
  • Expands the chest for improved breathing

 

 

CRISS CROSS

 

Suitable for 8 weeks onwards

  • Gently hold the babies left ankle and the right wrist
  • Slowly bring their hand and foot together
  • Open and stretch them out again
  • Repeat
  • Change over and hold the baby’s other ankle and wrist
  • Repeat as before

Tips

  • This exercise integrates the leg, hips and back exercises with the arms, chest and back exercises
  • Work with the baby’s own flexibility, do not force the limbs past the point of resistance
  • At first you can open without the stretch to get them accustomed to the movement

Benefits

  • Promotes brain development (when crossing the midline of the body – this is a cross lateral movement)
  • Stretches the muscles in the arms and legs
  • Maintains flexibility in the hip and shoulder joints

 

 

SPIRALS

 

Suitable for 6 weeks onwards

  • Gently hold the babies left ankle and the right wrist
  • Open them out slightly
  • Circle them both inwards 5 times
  • Circle them both outwards 5 times
  • Circle them both in opposite directions 5 times

Tips

  • Start with smaller circles so they can become accustomed to the exercise
  • Work with the baby’s own flexibility, do not force the limbs past the point of resistance
  • It may take a few attempts to get a smooth sequence

Benefits

  • These exercises develop the brain's neural pathways the way nature does – through movement
  • Stretches the muscles in the arms and legs and tones the back muscles
  • Maintains flexibility in the hip and shoulder joints and promotes co-ordination
  • Tests the parents co-ordination and increases concentration for both parent and baby

 

 

BABY BOBBING

 

Suitable for 8 weeks onwards

  • Position for Parents
  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you
  • Your back should be straight and upright (sit against a wall if this helps)
  • Keep your legs and feet together with big toes touching
  • Lay baby across your thighs with their arms above their head
  • Support the baby by holding their ankles with one hand and place the other on their upper back
  • Gently lift your leg under the baby’s lower body so that the baby’s head is lower than their feet
  • Gently lower this leg and raise the other leg so that the baby’s chest is higher than their bottom
  • Make a see-saw action

Tips

  • It is important to ensure the baby’s back is supported by keeping the legs together
  • Be careful not to twist the baby’s arms as you invert them
  • For smaller babies ensure their neck is supported

Benefits

  • Helps strengthen the baby’s back muscles
  • Prepares the baby for crawling and climbing
  • Helps to stimulate the digestive system and develop breathing
  • Gives the baby another dimension to their world
  • Gently turning a baby helps develop their vestibular system
  • Helps tone the parents stomach muscles and legs
  • Inversion pose that provides additional blood flow to the head

 

 

SEE SAW

 

Suitable for 3 months onwards

Position for parents

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you
  • Your back should be straight and upright
  • Keep your legs and feet together with big toes touching
  • Sit baby on the thigh facing outwards
  • Support the baby with one hand on their back and the other on their front

See Saw to Standing

  • When the baby tips forward allow their feet to make contact with the floor
  • If the baby is keen to stand up they will do – make sure you support them well with your hands
  • The hand on the chest should be taking most of the support
  • Repeat more often if the baby enjoys it

Tips

  • Introduce this exercise when the baby is comfortable taking the weight on their legs
  • Take extra care not to jolt the baby’s neck
  • Do not let the baby stand for a prolonged period

Benefits

  • Helps strengthen the baby’s leg and back muscles in preparation for crawling, sitting and standing

 

 

BOUNCING BRIDGE

 

Suitable for 6 weeks onwards

  • Hold the baby securely around the middle
  • Pull your tummy muscles in slightly
  • Keep the collarbone broad and draw the shoulder blades together
  • Press the feet into the mat to lift the hips
  • You then roll your pelvis hips and spine slowly up to the ceiling
  • Lower the hips to the floor again
  • Repeat so the baby resembles a horse rider

Tips

  • This exercise requires reasonable abdominal and pelvic floor muscle tone, so stop immediately if it feels too uncomfortable
  • When in resting pose, take care not to arch the back

Benefits

  • Fun time for baby whilst their parent exercises

 

 

FLYING HIGH

 

Suitable for 8 weeks onwards

  • Lay on your back with your knees folded into your chest
  • Cradle the baby close to your chest
  • Roll onto your back
  • Holding the baby gently under the arms lift them onto your bent knees supporting their body on your shins.
  • Pull your tummy muscles in slightly
  • Hold the baby’s sides, shoulders, hands or wrists
  • Tuck your chin into your chest and raise your head slightly as you breathe out
  • Gently swing your legs up and down to give the baby the feeling of “Flying”
  • Remember to breathe

Tips

  • This exercise requires reasonable abdominal and pelvic floor muscle tone, so stop immediately if it feels too uncomfortable
  • Take care not to overstretch your neck muscles

Benefits

  • Fun time for baby whilst their parent exercises
  • The baby acts as a counterweight and enjoys the sensation of flying.
  • Based on a Pilates exercise that is excellent for helping tone the pelvic floor muscles, particularly after birth
  • It may help to strengthen the parents stomach muscles and tone their legs

 

 

BOUNCE & BUMP

 

Suitable for 8 weeks onwards

  • Whilst standing up, use the Safety Hold
  • Have their back against your chest, so that they are facing outwards
  • Slowly bend the knees and gently lower the baby towards the floor as if squatting
  • Then straighten legs and lift the baby up towards the chest again
  • Repeat

Suitable for 3 months onwards

  • Repeat as above but more vigorously, if the baby is happy for this

Benefits

  • Allows the baby to experience different movements and dimensions of their world
  • Performing repetitive movements with a baby strengthens the neural pathways between the brain and the body
  • This is a secure hold that can be useful when the baby needs help to calm, if they are disorganised or fractious

 

 

SWING HIGH SWING LOW

 

Suitable for 3 months onwards

  • Whilst standing up, support the baby by laying them along the strongest arm, facing downwards
  • This arm should support the baby’s weight, whilst the hand is holding the top of the outer arm firmly
  • The other arm should go through the legs under the tummy for additional support
  • Gently swing the baby to and fro
  • Slowly swing more vigorously if the baby is happy for this
  • Slightly invert the baby as you swing them
  • Repeat

Tips

  • Start rocking the baby to and fro
  • As the baby becomes accustomed to this position and exercise swing higher and faster
  • Use suitable songs and rhymes

Benefits

  • Inversion pose that provides additional blood flow to the head
  • The ability to take greater control and to encourage the development of postural reflexes (needed for balance and co-ordination) comes through movement

 

 

SONIC MASSAGE

 

  • Parent should be on their hands and knees with the baby beneath them on their back
  • Ensure that the hands are directly beneath the shoulders and knees are in line with the hips
  • Relax the shoulders, stomach and jaw
  • Close your eyes
  • Inhale through the nose gently filling the lungs to capacity
  • Open the mouth slightly, in preparation to exhale
  • Position your head next to babies stomach
  • Begin a slow, prolonged exhale through the mouth, whilst creating the RAM sound
  • Position your head next to baby’s heart
  • Begin a slow, prolonged exhale through the mouth, whilst creating the YAM sound
  • Position your head next to baby’s neck
  • Begin a slow, prolonged exhale through the mouth, whilst creating the HAM sound
  • Position your head next to the baby’s head
  • Begin a slow, prolonged exhale through the mouth, whilst creating the OM sound

 

 

SONGS, RHYMES & SEQUENCES FOR YOGA

 

Good Morning

Good morning everybody how are you
Good morning everybody how are you
Oh we’re happy every day and we’re going to stay that way
Good morning everybody how are you

Play this Song


Mr Sun

Mr Sun, sun, Mr Golden Sun
Won’t you shine down on me
Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun
Hiding behind a tree (BOO!)
These little babies are asking you
Please come out so we can play with you
Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun
Won’t you shine down on me

Play this Song


Tall Shops

Tall shops in the town
Lifts going up and down
Doors going round and round
And people going in and out

Play this Song


Stretch…

Stretch, stretch this a-away
Stretch, stretch that a-away
Stretch, stretch this a-away
Then RELAX!

Play this Song

 

Open shut them

Open, shut them, open, shut them
Don’t get in a muddle
Open, shut them, open, shut them
Give yourself a cuddle
Open, shut them, open, shut them
Give a little clap clap clap
Open, shut them, open, shut them
Lay them in your lap lap lap

Play this Song

See Saw

See saw Marjorie daw
Johnny shall have a new master
He shall have but a penny a day
Because he can’t work any faster

Play this Song

 

Wind The Bobbin up

Wind the bobbin up, Wind the bobbin up
Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap
Wind it back again, Wind it back again
Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap
Point to the ceiling
Point to the floor
Point to the window
Point to the door
Clap your feet/hands together 1, 2, 3,
Lay them gently on your knee

Play this Song

 

Zoom Zoom

Zoom zoom zoom
We’re going to the moon
Zoom zoom zoom
We’ll be there very soon
5, 4, 3, 2, 1
ZOOOOOOOM!
The more we get together
The more we get together, together, together
The more we get together the happier we’ll be
For your friends are my friends, and my friends are your friends
The more we get together the happier we’ll be
Suggested Songs & Sequences

Play this Song

 

 


These are just a suggestion of what movements can be put together in a sequence and used with songs.

Song

Sequence

   
Good morning everybody how are you Tuck to Tummy, Tummy & Twist
Wind the Bobbin Up Roly Round, Leg Raise & Release, Sole to Sole, Toes to Nose, Straight leg side twist, Half Lotus
Mr Sun Sun Stretch, Flutter, peek a boo
Tall Shops in the Town Reach & Relax, Sun Stretch, Love Hug
You are my Sunshine Baby Bobbing
Horsey Horsey Bouncing Bridge
Zoom, zoom, zoom Straight bounce, turning bounce, knee to knee bounce
The more we get together Warrior pose for parent, Tummy Hold for baby, Swing High Swing Low