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Yoga for Baby, Kids and Parents



By Elizabeth Bonet

“Baby yoga! Baby yoga!” This is my daughter’s chant any time she reaches over to place her hands in front of her toes, in essence doing the toddler version of downward facing dog. I fantasized about doing yoga with my children before becoming pregnant, but I never pictured it like this.

I started doing yoga with Mia when I was pregnant with her. Chanting “om” everyday at the end of my yoga practice translated to a very easy way to calm her down when she was a newborn. During those early months when she would be awake at four in the morning and a walk was not an option, baby yoga seemed to be a nice, quiet activity. As she has grown older, my yoga practices have gotten shorter and shorter but definitely more fun as Mia joins in.

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Their own way of doing things
I used to teach a mom’s yoga class in which they could bring their babies and toddlers. The kids had five minutes devoted just to them, but most of them joined in with their mothers at some time or another during the class. Then they would run off to play a little more. These children all did yoga naturally. They loved to go upside down, balance on one leg and crawl around on all fours like cats, mewing all the while.

A child’s face will shine as they reach up high to the sky and then go way down to touch their toes. They will be very serious pretending to be a snake and almost calm as they bend into child’s pose, called “turtle” in my class.

A healthy diet
Yoga poses help to boost the immune system and build healthy bodies. But yoga needs a healthy diet to really do its best work. A healthy diet inside allows children to be active on the outside, enjoying their bodies as they move their hands and feet and limbs into positions that feel good.

The connection between yoga and vegetarianism goes back for thousands of years. One of yoga’s eight limbs is ahimsa, or non-violence, including non-violence towards animals, fish and crustaceans. The eighth limb of yoga also includes respect for all life-giving energy, including that of plants.

For most serious students, yoga eventually translates into adopting vegetarian diets. Imagine if you can give your child a head start on both yoga and spiritual evolution by practicing ahimsa. Yoga for your child that includes vegetarianism will boost their immune systems, their spiritual development and their self-esteem, allowing them to be able to truly play with their own bodies while also feeling happiness move inside them.

Bring yoga home to play
If you would like to expose your child to more yoga, do your yoga at home. You don’t have to be perfect in a pose for your child to get the picture. The more playful you are, the more both of you will enjoy it. My daughter usually ends up crawling all over me, but we always end up laughing together. Remember to be safe in your poses, since sometimes having 25 pounds or more riding on your back in poses a real challenge.

Resources for home
If you’re looking for books and videos, there are a multitude on the market. A good video to try at home is the YogaKids™ video. The children move into different animal poses while fun music plays in the background. The books vary depending on the age of your child. A good one for babies and moms is Baby Yoga by Francoise Barbira Freedman.

A fun book for toddlers and older is Babar’s Yoga for Elephants by Laurent De Brunhoff. The toddlers in my class loved to see the different poses that Babar gets himself into, and they always tried to copy him. The book includes a poster with Babar in yoga poses.

A story book for a slightly older child is Yoga for Children by Swati Chanchani and Rajiv Chancahni. The book has beautiful illustrations that could be colored in with pencil and includes a manual for parents and teachers. The instructions are clear and easy for both older children and adults.

To see a beautiful spirit come out in a child, do yoga with them. Many times my daughter tells me, “Sit like this!” as she does a tiny butterfly pose. Then we inevitably end up with laughter, hugs and kisses as we see each other sitting alike. I hope yoga becomes as much a part of her life as it is mine, but for now we’ll just enjoy it together.

© Elizabeth Bonet

Elizabeth Bonet, Ph.D., is a freelance writer and prenatal yoga instructor who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with her daughter and husband. See more about her classes and who she is at www.yogafairy.com or www.elizabethbonet.com.

2 Responses to “Yoga for Baby, Kids and Parents”

1 Jennifer says:

As a mother of a 2 year old little girl and being 8 1/2 months pregnant, I understand the difficulty of maintaining sanity. I have been a yoga instructor for years and my daughter really loves to practice with me, 10 minute segments of course. It has been wonderful to share my prenatal practice with her and really great for my body & mind.

2 renee says:

I am WAHM to 3 mos DD. Would LOVE to learn to teach baby yoga! Any words of wisdom for me? We are also in FTL. :-) synchronistically enough

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