How are we beating the heat here at Beth Shalom Early Learning Center? Infant Yoga. Jennifer Ferris-Glick joined our infant classes on Friday for some yoga. Below she tells us about the benefits of doing yoga with your children. (And see our gallery of images below.)
“The purpose of yoga is to unite the body, spirit, and mind. For adults this can be very complicated, as we have busy minds, expectations, and years of conditioning our bodies to work in particular ways. Yoga provides insight into each of those things and as a side benefit, it permits us more flexibility in our minds and our bodies.
Babies are natural yogis. They live only in the moment. When a child laughs, that laughter is PURE joy and radiance. Babies typically only breathe through their noses.
Yoga can help your baby by:
- allowing them to sleep better and longer
- improve digestion and ease gas pain
- promotes health and wellness
- strengthens the child/parent/caregiver bond
- encourages a mutual respect for one another
- increases neuromuscular development
- cultivates self-esteem and positive body image
- reduces stress and anxiety
- increases body awareness
- aids the natural development of movement from birth to walking*
Often times, because of the way our bodies develop, babies will naturally sit in supta baddhakonasana (i.e.,supine bound angle pose). In this posture, their feet are resting together, their knees splay out to the sides. Babies will kick their legs when they are experiencing lower abdominal gas, pulling the legs into the chest naturally relieves the pressure. Supta matsyendrasana (i.e., supine fish pose/ supine spinal twist) will also relieve gas.
Babies frequently place their hands into “mudras” (i.e., hand, foot, and eye gestures used to stimulate parts of the body). For instance, often a child who has a difficult time, who is feeling upset or anxious, will make the adhi mudra, that is, they make fists and tuck their thumbs. This mudra is purported to calm the nervous system and facilitate breathing in the lower abdomen, encouraging a deeper breath.
Babies also practice physical postures as a natural part of their development. For example, when a child is learning to walk, they will use a downward facing dog posture, hands (and sometimes head) on the floor with legs straight to press up into a standing posture, teaching not only balance, but strengthening the appropriate groups of muscles.
Next time you have a few moments…make repetitive yoga postures with your child. Encourage relaxation as well as your bond with him/her.”
* From Itsy Bitsy Yoga: Poses to help your baby sleep longer, digest better, and grow stronger by Helen Garabedian (2004).
About Jennifer Ferris-Glick
Jenn is co-owner of BYS Yoga Studio, located at 1113 East Carson Street on the South Side. She is engrossed with behavior, specifically how individuals experience, learn, and heal specifically through the lens of contemplative science. Jenn uses meditation, yoga, and therapeutic techniques to assist individuals, not only with their physical bodies, but their mental and spiritual bodies as well. She leads once monthly shabbat meditation (third shabbat of the month) at Congregation Beth Shalom.
Jenn works with individuals who are highly stressed and experiencing physical symptoms from the stress, and under-served populations including victims of trauma, domestic violence, alcoholics and addicts. Jenn’s diverse experiences and enthusiasm for learning allow her yoga and meditation practice/teaching to integrate multiple lineages of yoga with the ultimate goal of removing the ego mind and opening to deeper connections.