Music and movement go together beautiful, and yoga is a wonderful early introduction to this for babies and children. It teaches mindfulness, allowing us to think about the moment we are in, putting aside any worries that we have. It teaches us to breathe with our whole body, and to move in a way that feels great. And it teaches us to listen – both to the tempo of music accompanying our movements, and to our bodies as we stretch them. I have explored both antenatal yoga, and postnatal yoga, and both have so much to offer.
From my 12th week of pregnancy, I attended a yoga class with Charlotte Holloway at Mind, Body and Birth. This was such a lovely class! Each 2 hour class began with some relaxation and deep breathing. Charlotte taught us to shut out the rest of world, and concentrate on filling our lungs with air. She taught us the different breaths we would need when in labour, and played some relaxing music which we learnt to associate with a feeling of calmness.
This was followed by 30 minutes of yoga. These were very gentle exercises aimed at keeping us mobile, and stretching our muscles out. There were also some balance exercises, to keep our core strong and intact for as long as possible. Charlotte then showed us a series of simple ‘belly-dancing’ moves – she advocates it as a brilliant way to exercise your pelvic floor muscles! We danced to a 3-4 minutes top-40 track, which was much more fun and effective than boring kegel exercises. Playing a modern track was very clever – it acted as a prompt throughout the week, to practise our dancing each time we heard it on the radio.
To finish the class, Charlotte spoke us through a 20 minute hypnobirthing exercise, to help us to visualise the birth that we wanted. She played the same music each week for this – each time I heard it I sank more quickly and more deeply into complete relaxation. It was wonderfully invigorating, leaving me with loads of energy and positivity afterwards. I am sure that yoga, and the exercises practised within the class, contributed to my very fast and efficient labour. It also helped me to recognise the power of the music I used during my pregnancy to relax me. Click here to read more about these choices.
I have spent the past few months looking for an exercises class suitable for J and I. There are quite a few options for mums to work out, while a babysitter minds the babies. However, I was seeking something that we could do together. I found a local NCT class, which combines yoga for both babies and mums. Each session begins with some mobility exercises for the little ones. This are done whilst singing to them, to captivate their attention, and to make the moves more memorable for us.
This is followed by a series of progressively more difficult exercises for the mums. The babies are placed beneath us, while we work through a routine, strengthening all of our muscles, and working our core. To round off the class, we pick the children up for a group of strengthening exercises. We sing songs such as ‘The Hokey Cokey’, and ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’, whilst throwing the babies around as vigorously as we can! These get harder each week, as our kids get heavier and heavier. They are great fun, and always get lots of laughs – from mums and babies. It is these in particular that we practise regularly at home. The catchy songs act as a trigger, and they are always a sure way to calm a restless baby!
These is a brilliant way to introduce movement and music to babies, before they are old enough to dance. The association of songs and their actions helps with their language development, and teaches them to move their bodies rhythmically.