My sweet baby is crawling all. over. the. place. She’s on the move and into everything, which means if I want to practice yoga WITH her I’m going to have to basically strap her to me or she’s going to crawl off and find something gross on my floor to put in that little mouth of hers. (Seriously, I know she’s learning about the world around here, but babies this age do the grossest things.) It’s not particularly zen to stop my flow every 5 seconds to say, “No! Don’t lick the floor!,” so these days I’ve been spending a lot more time doing babywearing yoga.
Babywearing yoga is a great solution for older babies who can’t sit still as well as for teensy tiny babies who want to be close to mom all the time. But babywearing yoga does have a few limitations—you can’t do Down Dogs or Up Dogs while babywearing for obvious reasons. But don’t let that stop you! You can still have a good stretch and flow synchronized with your breath. Babywearing yoga is also a fun way to bond with your little one whether she’s crawling and into everything or a newborn who just wants more mama time.
NOTE: You’re even more limited if your little is like mine and is opposed any kind of carrier that’s not this fancy Tula ring sling you see pictured. (I love my ring sling, but I recommend a structured carrier if your little one is more cooperative than mine is. With a structured carrier you have a wider range of motion in both of your shoulders.
Babywearing Yoga: Best Yoga Poses for Babywearing Mamas
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Find your feet. Firm your thighs. Inhale, lift your arms up and over head. Exhale, bring your hands together in front of your heart in Anjali Mudra.
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Lower your seat toward the floor as if you were going to sit down into a chair and reach your arms up toward the sky and spread your fingers. Shift your weight into your heels so you can lift your toes toward the ceiling. Then, shift your weight into your toes and lift your heels. Repeat.
Standing Pigeon Pose
From Utkatasana, lift your right foot and place it on your left knee. Keep your right foot flexed. Sit deeper and maybe even start to gently guide your right knee downward just a tad to increase the stretch in the hip. Stay here for a few breaths then switch sides.
Stand up, shake out your legs, and do a happy dance before you move on to the next pose.
High Lunge with Heart Opener
Step your right foot back… back… back… until your left knee is close to a 90-degree angle. Interlace your hands behind your back and lift your chest upward. Notice that your baby lifts slightly, too. Make sure baby is completely supported. Only go as far as you need to to feel a slight stretch through your chest and shoulders.
From your lunge, bring your hands to your baby to give her extra support (watch her head!). Inhale as you lengthen your spine and reach through your back heel. Exhale as you fold forward and to the inside of the left knee. If your baby seems to enjoy the ride, repeat a few times moving from your High Lunge to your Humble Warrior.
Make your way back to your High Lunge to prepare for the next pose.
Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana 3 Pose)
Ready for a challenge that will be fun for you and baby? Make sure you’re supporting your baby with your arms, as you hinge at the hips carefully step your back foot forward a few inches. Then, with an inhale, lift your back leg so it’s parallel with the floor. Stay here, or move with your breath and flow between High Lunge and Warrior 3 a couple times.
Then, come back to Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and repeat High Lunge, Humble Warrior, and Warrior 3 on your other side.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana Pose)
From Mountain Pose, feel your feet press into the ground as you lift your chest and the crown of your head upward. Spread your toes. Lift your right foot and place it firmly to your opposite ankle, shin, or upper thigh. (You’ll want to avoid placing that foot on the inside of the opposite knee.) Bring your hands together in prayer in front of your baby or stretch one or both hands up toward the sky.
Stay for a few breaths, then do the other side.
Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2 Pose)
Step one foot back and set your feet up for Warrior 2 Pose (your hips should be facing the long edge of your mat). Bend your front knee toward 90 degrees and point that knee toward the pinky-toe side of your front foot. Reach your arms, spread your fingers, and turn your gaze forward toward your front hand. Relax your shoulders, jaw, and eyes.
Want to take baby for a ride? Inhale as you straighten the front leg, exhale as you bend it again. Then move right into the next pose and complete the sequence before you practice Warrior 2 on your second side.
Straighten your legs and turn to face the long edge of your yoga mat. Point your toes toward the corners of your mat and bend your knees outward. Lower your seat until your thighs are close to parallel to the floor. Stay here for a few breaths, or until your thighs begin to shake. Then, practice straightening and bending your legs with your breath.
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend)
If baby is older and you’re feeling playful, turn your toes forward (even slightly pigeon toed), hold baby with your arms, and forward fold into Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Legged Forward Bend).
When you’re done practice Warrior 2 on your second side.
Boat Pose (Navasana)
If you are far enough past postpartum that you know your abdominal muscles have come back together (in other words you DON’T have Diastasis Recti) it can be fun to use baby to do a little core work. Come into Boat Pose by sitting down on your mat, bending your knees, and bringing your toes to the floor. You can then decide if you’re feeling strong enough to balance on your sitting bones and lift the toes away from the floor. Lift one foot at a time and don’t forget to lift the heart, too! If that feels mild, you can play with straightening the legs. Stay here for long enough to sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat. You must entertain the baby or she’ll try to squirm out… Ask me how I know! Ha!
Cobbler’s Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Bring your feet back to the floor, soles touching, knees out to the sides for Cobbler’s Pose. Inhale as you lift your chest. Exhale as you fold forward. To make it extra challenging for you (and extra fun for baby!) support baby’s head and flow back and forth between Boat Pose and Cobbler’s Pose.
I know, I know. This isn’t going to last long, and that’s OK. It’s still worth taking just 5 full, deep breaths to finish out your practice. Promise me you’ll take a real Savasana when that sweet baby goes down for a nap, OK?
Do’s and Don’ts of Babywearing Yoga
DO make sure your baby is secure in the carrier.
DON’T practice poses where you are inverted (including Downward Facing Dog) as there is a risk of baby falling out of the carrier. (Duh!)
DO check to make sure the baby’s airway is clear before you begin moving and every time you switch poses if you can’t tell.
DON’T force any baby yoga practice when baby isn’t in the mood. Take a break and try again later.
DO practice standing balance poses close to a wall when you’re having an “off” balance day. (Falling with a baby is no beuno.)
DO take every opportunity to gaze down sweetly at your little one and synchronize your breath with your baby’s breath.