Parent and Me Yoga with Babies and Toddlers
Written by Maia, a full-time Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher at Prodeo Academy in Minneapolis, MN and the founder of Kumarah Yoga
Postpartum can be a stressful time for new mothers (and all mothers and parents, really!). You have so much to do and worry about, little time for yourself, and you just want to sit and stare at your lovely little baby. Self-care may go straight out the window.
Even as your child grows and is able to do more, you still may find yourself putting off care for yourself. As your baby starts to move and be active, and eventually becomes a little toddler with high activity, do you move and stay active as well to keep up with them?
If you are at home with your baby or toddler as well, it may be especially hard to find time to work out, get some exercise or go to a class.
But the good news is you don’t need to physically go to a class to get some yoga practice in, especially these days with so many online class options for yoga and movement.
Yoga at home is a great way to get some movement, restore your strength, and especially reduce some stress. Here’s a list of some awesome online yoga classes, many of which are family yoga and yoga for toddlers or mommy and me.
Why Do Yoga with your Baby or Toddler?
Aside from another way to get some exercise and get moving, doing yoga with your baby and toddler has many benefits.
- Releases endorphins with new and challenging movements
- Utilizes balance and strength which engages the core
- Helps your baby move in new ways, develop core muscles, balance, and coordination
- Stimulates your baby with different movements, rhythms, and repetitions
- Provides a time to breathe and slow down, which is good for stress relief
- Strengthens your bond and connection by spending quality, calming time together
Babies are natural yogis! There are many poses that they are doing on their own, naturally.
From tummy time and pressing up with their hands into cobra, to hands and knees in cow and cat. Most babies move through a little down dog as they are starting to stand as well.
You can help encourage these movements, and even give them a little assistance.
Start with your baby on their back, and just give some nice gentle massages up and down the arms. Then work your way down their sides and to their legs. You can smile and sing or talk to keep them engaged while you gently massage. Circular belly massages are great too!
You can bring their knees into the belly and then stretch their legs out a little, being gentle and just giving them a little more range of movement. Bringing knees into the tummy is really good for gas, so do this a few times gently and make small circles.
Moving to tummy time, you can do a lot here as well to strengthen your baby’s core, back, and neck. It also helps develop the natural curve in your baby’s spine.
Tummy time can be with your baby on your chest while you are doing Warrior 1 or Boat Pose.
You can also let your baby rest on your shins while you are doing Boat Pose or laying on your back with your knees over your hips.
If you are letting your baby do tummy time on the floor, you can also come into Cobra Pose in front of them and encourage them to look up a little more with nice soothing hissing sounds just slightly above them.
It’s a good idea to do a little leg stretching and massaging while they are on the floor here as well, it helps them be distracted enough to stay in the position a little longer.
Mommy or Daddy and Me Yoga
There are lots of poses that you can do just like you would in an adult class, but you include your baby in the pose and interact with him or her, or hold them in your arms.
Down Dog with your baby on their back underneath you, so you can talk and sing to them.
Plank Pose to Down Dog, or side to side in Side Plank with your baby beneath you gives your baby a fun watching and perspective challenge.
Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Tree Pose, Star, Chair, and Goddess can all be done holding your baby. You’ll get an extra arm work out if you lift them up or twist with them side to side.
Boat Pose and Seated Forward Fold can be done with your baby either sitting up on your shins or laying on their tummy. Roll onto your back and lift your baby up while holding onto their hands or arms.
Add in some bounces in Goddess or Chair Pose to really feel the strength of your legs.
Make sure to end any session with a calming rest in Savasana, maybe letting your baby lay tummy down on your chest.
Yoga with Toddlers
Once your baby is standing and moving, you can start to encourage them to do more of the yoga poses with you.
Getting them interested enough to stay in one spot may be the trickiest part.
Or just get good at adding in a little yoga by copying them when you see them do a pose, and then encouraging them to copy you! This mirroring skill is SO good for their brains.
If they like books, use them to your advantage. Bring a few animal-themed books over to your yoga mat (or Yoga Books!) and read one page at a time. After each page, do a yoga pose that matches the animal you read about.
Here is a list of some awesome library books, and the animal-themed ones that are especially great for toddlers.
The best yoga poses for toddlers are on their tummy, hands and knees, and standing. There are some favorites below and you can find more here.
Hopefully these tips and ideas on how to do yoga at home with your young children were helpful. Babies and toddlers do really well with yoga and it will help them learn the importance of movement and wellness from a young age.
For more tips on how to do yoga with kids at home (of all ages!) and how to add games as well, check out KumarahYoga.com
Maia is a full-time Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher at Prodeo Academy in Minneapolis, MN. She has been teaching yoga, mindfulness, and movement full-time to kids for over 8 years and has trained with KAY, YogaEd, YogaCalm, and Mindful Schools. Maia is also the founder of Kumarah Yoga, an online resource for kids yoga and mindfulness teachers in studios and public schools around the world. She writes articles and kid’s yoga lesson plans, plus designs mindfulness resources and free materials with many available in her Free Resources Library.