With the birth of a child, a woman’s life changes dramatically. Changes begin to occur during pregnancy at the level of body, mind and emotions. When the child is born, so many new worries are coming up that many mothers don’t know how to cope with them most effectively. Yoga can come to the rescue! But is it possible to do yoga with an infant? What are the benefits of these activities? What type of yoga is most effective from the very first days of a child’s life and how to apply it in practice? Let’s try to figure it out.
Yoga is an ancient, kind and pretty logical system of self-knowledge. Thanks to yoga, we begin to know ourselves: to become more aware of our body, thoughts and control our emotions. As a result, we expand our knowledge about ourselves. We begin to understand the reasons for our behavior, learn to manage our reactions and build our life and relationships with people around us more harmoniously.
At what age can yoga be practiced?
Self-knowledge issues are relevant at any age. We begin to study ourselves and the world around us from birth to the end of life. At the same time, it is important to develop harmoniously in all directions without exception: physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. Yoga provides various tools for this, proven over the centuries, accurate and effective. For each age they are different, depending on our development priorities in one direction or another. The construction of activities for a little baby is aimed primarily at working with the physical level, encouraging the baby to explore their body and capabilities. Therefore, yoga can be practiced from the first days of life.
Why is it important to have classes from the first days of life?
If a child becomes accustomed from birth to various exciting manipulations, it will be comfortable with massage, gymnastics, and yoga in the future. Without regular practice, the child will be cautious and hesitant to any activities and it can even lead to rejection. However, the opposite scenario is also quite possible, when the child will enthusiastically perceive something new. It all depends on the nature of the child. Therefore, the approach to classes should be individual for each child and the practice should be built harmoniously and without violence. To avoid possible negative reactions from the child in the future it is recommended to start practicing as early as possible. Thus, the child develops a good habit to attend
How can a mother tune in to classes with a child?
There are plenty of tips everywhere about what an ideal mother and ideal child should be like, and what she should do for this. The increased flow of information makes a mother compare her child to others, seemingly more developed children, while her baby can hardly hold a rattle. The cycle of these thoughts, in addition to caring for the baby and the lack of adequate sleep, put a mother into a state of nervousness. Therefore, it is important to do asanas for relaxation, bringing oneself into a calm state, and finding harmony in communication with the child. Yoga helps to get a peace of mind for the mother and when the mother is calm, the baby is also calm. If the mother touches the child without internal tension and nervousness, the child immediately feels it.
What are the benefits of yoga classes with a toddler?
For a child to grow up happy and healthy, they need close contact with the mother from birth. When a mother holds a baby in her arms, the baby feels safe and in a state of joy and happiness. When a mother plays with her baby, moves and strokes him, the baby gets to know his body, its boundaries and its different parts, it improves movement coordination: this is a leg, this is a nose, you can reach the nose with a leg, etc. The baby learns the capabilities of their body and yoga for a child takes place in this way. It is important for a mother to eliminate the uncertainty in handling her baby. A mother is often scared of touching her newborn. Looking at the little fingers, hands, legs and everything else, it seems to her that her baby is so fragile that she can harm. She has not yet fully learned to feel her baby, which is why sometimes she may not understand what is needed to make her baby comfortable. But thanks to purposeful work with touch, through tactile sensations during classes, a mother comes into close contact with her baby, intuitively begins to feel all needs and can easily satisfy them. And when the baby is satisfied and happy, then the mother is also pleased and happy!
What kind of yoga is most preferable for a newborn baby?
There are as many types of yoga as there are manifestations of human life. The most common type of yoga is Hatha yoga, which works with the physical body. Less well known is Nyasa yoga — the yoga of touch. This type of yoga works with tactile sensations, touch. Yoga theory says that the heart center, the Anahata chakra, is responsible for tactile sensations. Through touch, we convey our love. Tactile contact is the first experience a child receives when born. The mother’s touch calms the newborn baby, gives joy and pleasure and the warmth of being together, being present. These sensations cannot be perceived by any other sensory organ. Thanks to tactile contacts with the mother, the child grows and develops in the most harmonious way. After all, the basic need for a newborn is a sense of security. If a child feels safe, they will develop a sense of trust in the world around them, which, growing up, carries through their whole life. With a lack of attention, love and affection, a feeling of alienation can arise. So, the child perceives the lack of tactile sensations as a lack of love, as a result they feel unnecessary, become withdrawn, and sometimes even aggressive.
What is the difference between Nyasa yoga and massage?
Outwardly, Nyasa yoga resembles massage, but it has important differences. If massage works with the physical body, and it uses clear, consistent techniques, Nyasa yoga is more intuitive in terms of touch. In Nyasa yoga, the impact is exerted not only at the level of the physical body, but also on more subtle structures, including emotional and mental state. It helps the baby from the first days to know themselves and the world around them harmoniously.
How should Nyasa yoga be done?
Nyasa is a two-sided action: we touch a person and feel them and at the same time they feel our touch. Thus, touch connects people through action and its feedback — perception. The body becomes both tactile and tangible at the same time. Therefore, the touch doesn’t belong to just one, but at least two. Thanks to this effect, the sense of touch gives us the ability to sense other people and gives a sense of cohesion to all living beings.
The basic principle of performing Nyasa yoga: when doing Nyasa to someone, you do it to yourself!
Therefore, a mother should touch a baby the way she would like to be touched herself – with love and tenderness. To do this, you need to tune in to the same wavelength with the baby, and merge into a single whole. Then the happy baby will perceive their mother as the whole Universe, which gently cradles them in her arms.
At the same time, you must always respect the personality of the child and never force them to do what they don’t like – not to force them to do yoga. Remember the main principle of yoga – nonviolence! Because every mother knows that the character and temperament of a child is formed long before birth. You should not do something forcibly, for example, pull out the handle if the child, on the contrary, presses it. The baby may be afraid of sudden movements. You need to give a lot of smiles, strokes, and jokes and you can hum your child’s favorite song during activities with them. It is necessary to create the most comfortable, trusting atmosphere and keep track of what the baby likes the most.
When should you do Nyasa yoga?
Nyasa yoga can be done during yoga classes with a toddler under the guidance of a teacher. During such classes, all exercises are built in such a way that the mother does not tear herself away from the baby, so that they feel her attention. Some of the exercises are done by the mother together with the baby, the other part is aimed at the baby, when the mother only helps to take this or that position, turn the arms, and twist the legs.
You can use this magical tool in everyday life for the development of the child and attunement with them: while bathing, changing clothes, feeding and at any other suitable moment. This can be done directly on the body, or through clothing. It is necessary that the child gets pleasure and joy from touching. If possible, it is best to look into the child’s eyes and smile. You can, touching certain parts of the child’s body, name them, praise: what wonderful legs, arms! Or just say sweet words. You can touch yourself with a child’s hand and name the parts of your body: where are mom’s eyes, mouth and cheeks? In the process of Nyasa, it is recommended to change the degree of pressure: first make it stronger, then weaker, then barely touch.
How to divide touches according to the degree of sensitivity?
Touching can be of varying degrees of intensity. For example, it is better to touch the face gently, barely noticeable, and the legs and arms can be squeezed harder. You can keep your palms close to the body without touching it at all. Thus, according to the degree of sensitivity, touch can be divided into:
- rough, when compressed, pushed through certain parts of the body with a certain effort;
- subtle, soft and gentle touch;
- the thinnest, when the palms barely touch the body or are held over the body at a short distance.
Some ways to perform Nyasa yoga
Nyasa yoga should be done intuitively, depending on the state of the baby and mother. Kids love the touch of their parents very much and always accept them with joy. If you would like to make your child happy, do Nyasa at every opportunity!
Let’s consider some possible ways of Nyasa yoga:
1. Nyasa of the back (along the spine from the base of the body to the crown of the head) in dynamics and statics:
– run your fingertips from the base of the baby’s body along the spine up to the crown of the head and back;
– run your fingertips from the crown of the head down the right and left sides along the spine;
– run your fingertips from the crown of the head and along the arms;
– keep the baby’s palms in yours for a while, gently squeeze the palms, and then release them very slowly and smoothly;
– run your fingertips from the crown of the head along the right and left sides along the spine, continuing to go down and run along the legs;
– gently squeeze the feet, then very slowly and smoothly release;
– do in static: hold one palm on the base of the body, the other slightly higher, not reaching the navel, then move the lower palm to the navel area and further, continuing to move the lower palm to the level of the heart, then to the level of the throat, to the back of the head, to the crown of the head. Keep palms on top of the head and base of the body.
2. Nyasa of legs:
– draw in the center of legs from bottom to top, top to bottom at front and back;
– knead the legs from all sides (very carefully in the knee area and under the knees);
– gently rub each toe;
– massage of feet;
– take the baby’s foot in your palms, gently squeeze, hold for a while, then very slowly and smoothly release, then repeat with the other.
3. Nyasa of the arms:
– massage the arms (very carefully in the area of the elbows and under the elbows);
– gently rub each finger;
– rub and massage the palms;
– take the baby’s palm into yours gently, squeeze, hold it for a while, then very slowly and smoothly release it, then do the same with the other.
4. Head nyasa:
– from the crown of the head, barely touching, draw fingertips to the point between the eyebrows and hold them in this area for some time.
At the same time, check that the back, neck and head of the baby are in one straight line.
5. Nyasa of the navel and heart center:
– place the fingers of one hand on the navel, and the fingers of the other in the heart area holding for some time. Also, you can press lightly, then release it gently and smoothly.
6. Nyasa with lips:
– run your lips along the spine, arms, legs, while exhaling warm air, you can pronounce sounds to yourself or barely audible: AOUM or some gentle words.
Nyasa yoga is a real gift! It helps not only to cope with the new daily routine of a young mother, to establish close contact with the baby, to feel him as herself, but also to speed up all internal processes in the body of both the baby and the mother. Gentle touches soothe your child and give them a sense of security, happiness and joy. Feeling the touch, the baby understands that he is not alone in this world, but safe, loved and that mom understands that the baby loves her.
Do yoga, give love through touch to your baby and be happy!
Article author: Eva Mey
The author of the drawings: Elena Asmita
Editor: Anna Vita, Maria Gayatri, Olga Belous, Evgeniya Agni
Editor-in-chief: Anastasia Andreichenko
Project curator: Kerigona
Translated by: Larisa Skibina, Tatiana Sugrue, Elena Lakshmi