Mommy and Me yoga poses are styled to suit both the experienced or green yogi. Postnatal yoga (or yoga with your baby) serves as an avenue for “getting back in shape,” but also is a compliment to your new life as a mom. You may find that your anxiety is reduced, you’re more centered, and the true harmony of it all — you’re bonding with your child (physically and spiritually).
When I teach the yoga workshop in Bubbles Academy’s Bubble Newborns class, I share and stand by this truth for moms: by taking care of yourself, you help your baby as well.
Here are ten simple asanas (poses) to try at home that are also developmentally stimulating for baby:
(1) Cat and Cow
Start on hands and knees with baby on the mat underneath you so that you’re face-to-face. Hips should be over knees, shoulders over wrists. As you inhale, tilt your tailbone up and lift your chest forward and up (cow pose). When you exhale, tilt your tailbone down, rounding your back, and look down at your baby (cat pose).
Continue moving with your breath, and feel free to make silly faces whenever you make eye contact! These poses help to stretch the spine and also help low back pain.
2) Knee Plank Push-up Kisses
This pose begins in the same position as the Cat and Cow poses, but with knees back a few inches on the mat and toes tucked. Inhale, and then exhale while bending the elbows, keeping them tucked in toward your sides, and slowly lower yourself closer to your baby until you’re close enough to kiss their nose or forehead. Inhale to press yourself back up.
Repeat 5-10 times. This pose helps develop core strength and will also work your triceps.
Holding your baby while standing, shift your weight into your left foot. Bend the right knee and place your right foot on the inside of your left thigh or calf (above or below the knee). Another option is to bend your right knee out to the right side, placing the right heel against your left ankle, with right toes still touching the ground.
You can also practice this pose against a wall to help with balance. Draw your shoulder blades down your back; keep your gaze on something still while you breathe. Don’t forget to switch sides! Number 3 of our Mommy and Me yoga poses is great for focusing the mind and opening the hips.
(4) Flying Baby
Stand with feet slightly wider than hip distance apart, holding your baby facing out. Exhale, bending your knees, and on an inhale, straighten legs and transfer your weight onto your left foot while coming to tiptoes on your right foot. Bend your knees and exhale to move back to center. Then inhale while transferring your weight onto your right foot, coming on to left tiptoes.
You can also try holding your baby around his or her mid-section and extending your arms out as you float from side to side, thus helping the babies to “fly.” Flying Baby is a fun to do with music playing in the background, and it helps build leg, arm and core strength in you.
Bonus: Infants will respond to the rhythm and tempo of the music, as well as strengthen the muscles in their head, neck, shoulders and core.
(5) Goddess (squats)
Begin with feet about 3 feet apart with toes pointing out in same direction as your knees while holding your baby. Exhale and bend your knees deeply sinking hips down to the height of your knees. Try to keep knees directly over ankles. Inhale and straighten legs.
This pose stretches your hips, strengthens core muscles and increases circulation.
Sit on the floor with your legs bent in front of you with your baby on your lap facing you. While holding your baby, slowly lift your feet until your legs are parallel to the floor. Hold here and breathe or slowly straighten your knees. If your baby is secure you can try letting go and extending your arms along side your legs.
Try holding the pose for 10-20 seconds. Great for building abdominal strength and relieving stress!
Lie down on your back with knees bent and your baby resting against your hips and thighs facing you. You can hold your baby around his or her hips. Feet should be hip distance apart. Exhale, press into your feet and lift your hips off the floor, keeping thighs parallel.
Stay in the pose for up to 30 seconds or try dynamic bridge pose and move up and in the pose with your breath. Inhale to rise, exhale to lower. This pose works the butt, back and abs, stretches the neck, chest and spine, and calms the mind. Also rejuvenates tired legs.
Bonus: Sing a happy tune like the Noble Duke of York while you move up and down — creating a game for you baby!
(8) Leg Lifts
Start sitting up with knees bent and baby against your shins. Hold onto baby and roll to your back so baby is above you face-to-face. Hold your baby’s hands or body, and play around with moving legs side to side, back and forth and moving shins up and down.
This is a fun way to practice using your pelvic floor and strengthening your core with your baby as a weight.
Bonus: a more enjoyable alternative to doing tummy time with your baby on the floor!
(9) Legs Up the Wall
This pose is exactly what it sounds like — get cozy with a wall, lie down and put your legs up. Make sure your hips are as close to the wall as possible. You can hold your baby on your chest or sit them against your hips depending on age.
Stay here for up to 5 minutes (if your baby will let you). The benefits of #9 within Mommy and Me yoga poses include: relieves tired feet, backache and anxiety, stretches legs. Calms the mind. Provides relief to insomnia, migraine, varicose veins and digestive problems.
(10) Savasana (relaxation)
For this final pose you can either lie on your back or on your side as shown. Let go of your breath, let go of your thoughts, and relax.
Ideally, stay here for up to 10 minutes.
Remember to be compassionate with your body. Be sure to support your baby’s head if needed, and to modify dynamic poses to be gentle (as needed). Don’t push yourself too hard; do what feels good. And most importantly, remember to breathe!
If you desire some hands-on instruction and have a child 0-4 months old, visit Bubble Newborns class for our upcoming session series.
- Yoga just might become you and your child’s favorite (and active) activity for years to come — check out this posing pair!
Pictured here: Many thanks to Laine Cogan (mom) and Sidney Cogan (6 mo.)
Questions on any of the Mommy and Me yoga poses or testimonial on your experience practicing postnatal yoga? We want to hear from you below or @BubblesAcademy!
- The Bright Move: This post is a part of a collection of blogs leading into Fall 2014. The thoughtful, bright moves Bubbles Academy takes in the classroom and recommends for at-home, feature explorative play & arts based activities — encouraging healthy physical, cognitive and social development for your child. Like this post? Share with the hashtag #thebrightmove
Lauren Hubert is Bubbles Academy’s After School Program Manager and a Lead Teacher in Music and Creative Movement. She is a certified yoga instructor, active songwriter and dynamic performer around Chicago and at our themed Birthday celebrations!