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Open Your Mind and Say 'Omm'

Between constant diaper changes, nonstop feedings, and too many sleepless nights, moms and babies need as much relaxation as they can get. Whether you're looking for a work-out or just want a fun activity you and your baby can do together, yoga can give you both.
baby yoga

Classes offered through local yoga studios and community centers allow babies of any age, from newborn to toddler, to hit the mat with mom. Here's the scoop on what you can expect from mom-and-baby yoga classes and how to find one in your area.

The Class
In baby-focused yoga classes, instructors show parents how to guide their babies into a series of gentle and safe asanas (poses). Some classes focus more on mom, helping her de-stress and get back into shape while incorporating the baby when possible.

The Baby
According to Helen Garabedian, yoga instructor, infant developmental movement educator and founder of Itsy Bitsy Yoga -- a program that focuses on children newborn to age 4 -- yoga can help calm a fussy baby, help her sleep better, aid her digestion, and even promote healthy development. "Now that our babies are sleeping on their backs, it's important that we put them on their tummies to play. In Itsy Bitsy Yoga, there are a lot of poses we do that make tummy time fun and entertaining," says Garabedian. It's also a great way to get to know your child. "Parents learn a lot about their baby's development," says Garabedian, adding that baby yoga provides parents a healthy, fun way to play and bond with their children.

The Mom
Yoga can be great exercise for new moms, too, offering movement that gently tones and stretches the body while relieving stress. According to Jenny Barron Fishman, director of Sweet Pea's Studio in Chicago, practicing yoga can help new moms relieve common aches and pains as well as recover from birth- or parenting-related injuries and stress.

In her Baby & Me yoga classes, which can include babies from 4 weeks up to a year, Fishman incorporates song, dance and infant massage to keep the babies engaged. When possible, moms are instructed on how to work the baby into their poses.

One of the highlights of Baby & Me is making friends and getting support and encouragement from other parents. "During every class, we also have sharing time where there is a safe space to discuss all the joys and challenges new parenting can present. I find that this is often the most valuable piece of the class," says Fishman.

Finding a Class
Since yoga for moms and babies is a quickly growing trend, chances are good you'll be able to locate a class near you. Some places to check:

  • Visit www.ItsyBitsyYoga.com for a list of instructors near you.

  • Search the Yoga Everywhere directory (www.Yogaeverywhere.com) or www.Yogafinder.com for descriptions of local classes, instructors and studios.
  • Try your local YMCA, YWCA, health club, or community center.
  • Ask the childbirth experts in your area, such as your doctor, midwife, doula, or childbirth educator. Or check with a local birth center or hospital.

Home Yoga
One of the benefits of a mom-and-baby yoga class is getting out of the house and socializing with other moms, but sometimes it's not an option for everyone. If you can't make it to a postpartum or baby yoga class, there are several books and DVDs geared toward getting moms and babies centered and strong in their own living rooms. Try one of these titles:

  • "Itsy Bitsy Yoga"
  • "Baby Om: Yoga for Mothers and Babies"

Yoga will bring some much needed balance to your life and can build a body with your baby. Just say "omm."

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