When I was a new mom I had no idea how to carve out time for myself. And you know what? I didn’t really want to, either. I wanted to hold my sweet baby and stare at her for hours. I wasn’t interested in putting her down for naps, and there was NO WAY I was prepared to hand her over to babysitter so I could go to a yoga class. So I just didn’t. And that was fine… for a while. But it didn’t take long for me to REALLY miss my yoga practice. What was the solution?: Baby yoga! More specifically, Mom and Baby Yoga. Sometimes I practiced while my girl snoozed in a bouncy seat at the top of my mat (that’s is when I learned to “float” silently from Downward Facing Dog to Uttanasana—ha!). And other times I just figured out ways to incorporate her into my practice. It wasn’t the same as my pre-baby yoga practice at all, but it did give me a chance to slow down, breathe, and enjoy being in my body. The following poses also gave me a chance to interact with my baby, too, which was super important.
Check out this totally embarrassing video of me showing you some of my best yoga moves when my girl was just 6-month-old!: Baby Yoga? This Is How We Do It
Now, I lead mom and baby yoga classes and I see first-hand how magical it can be to connect with a baby in this way. There are NO excuses to give up on your yoga practice once you become a mom. Below are my very favorite yoga poses to do with your little one.
Try them out with your little one, and don’t forget to come back here me know how it went in the comment section!
Baby Yoga Poses: 8 Yoga Poses You Can Do With Your Baby or Toddler
Chaturanga Dandasana with a Smooch
Come onto hands and knees with your baby resting at the top of your mat facing you. Let your hands can be on either side of his chest. Position yourself so your shoulders are right over your wrists and spread your fingers. Then, walk your knees back slightly and drop your hips until you’re in the shape of an incline plane with your knees on the floor. Widen your collar bones and firm the muscles of your arms. Inhale here. Exhale, slowly lower yourself down by bending your elbows (hug them in toward the sides of your rib cage just like Chaturanga). If your baby hasn’t rolled away give her a quick smooch before you lift yourself back up on the next inhale. Repeat 3-5 times.
Keep the legs straight and lower into a more traditional Chaturanga.
Virabhadrasana 1 Variation (Warrior 1 Pose)
Stand up at the top of your yoga mat, holding your baby. Step your left foot back so that your right knee can bend to about a 90-degree angle. (Your back heel can be down on the ground as it would for a traditional Warrior 1 Pose or lifted.) Depending on the age of your baby, you’ll either cradle him in your arms or let him sit on you thigh facing away from you. Lift your chest, and let your shoulders soften and drop away from your ears. Take a few small bounces to help your baby get comfortable. Inhale, straighten your front leg. Exhale, bend your front leg. Repeat a couple of times, then, carefully switch sides.
Hold your baby under his arms and lift him up over your head with an inhale. Lower him back down with and exhale. (Of course, your baby should have good head control before you try this one!)
Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2 Pose)
Stand at the top of your yoga mat, holding your baby. Step your left foot back so far that your right knee can bend to about a 90-degree angle. Spin your back heel down to the floor, and open your hips so they are facing the long edge of your mat. Depending on the age of your baby, you’ll either cradle him in your arms or let him sit on you thigh facing away from you (pictured). Lift your chest, and let your shoulders soften and drop away from your ears. Take a few small bounces to help your baby get comfortable. If you feel comfortable holding your baby with one arm, reach the other arm wide, helping your chest to open (something new moms desperately need to combat the many hours they spend holding their little ones!). Stay for a few breaths. Then switch sides.
Low Lunge with a Tickle
Put your baby in front of you on his or her back. Come to your hands and knees facing your baby (your hands should be a few inches away from your child’s feet). With an inhale reach your right leg back behind you, so it’s parallel to the floor. Exhale and round your back and push the floor away as you pull your knee in toward your nose (don’t kick the baby!) and plant the foot right between your hands. Inhale and lift your torso up, so find your self in a low lunge. Lift your chest and soften your shoulders. As you exhale lower your torso toward the floor and give your baby a sweet tickle on his tummy (or wherever you can reach if your little is a roller or crawler). Inhale, lift your torso. Exhale, and tickle, tickle, tickle. Repeat 3-5 times then switch legs.
Tuck the back toes and keep the back leg straight and try the tickle from a high lunge position.
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Being the mom of a little one is all about finding balance—something that’s a lot trickier than I ever imagined it would be! Tree Pose is one of my favorite ways to remind new mamas that it IS possible to take care of their own needs and their family’s needs at the same time. Stand close to a wall (just in case) holding your baby. Root down through both feet, feeling how strong and stable your legs are beneath you. Bend one knee and bring the sole of that foot to the inside of the opposite ankle. Practice keeping the toes on the floor like a kick-stand first (this helps with balance). Brace one hand on the wall if you still feel wobbly. Practice lifting your chest and relaxing your shoulders (something that’s not easy to do when you’re holding a baby, but it IS possible). If you feel stable, consider bringing the lifted foot up higher (on the shin below the knee or to the inner thigh above the knee). If you feel comfortable holding your child with one arm, lift the other arm up and spread your fingers. Breathe. Then, switch sides.
Note: You can hold your baby on either hip when you’re practicing Tree Pose, some people prefer to hold the baby on the lifted leg side while other feel more balanced holding the baby on the opposite side. Choose what feels most comfortable, stable, and natural to you.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Lie down on the floor. Bend your knees and put your feet on the floor hip distance wide. Bring your little one to sit on your hips facing you, with her back supported by your thighs. Press your feet down as you lift your hips away from the floor. Please keep one or both hands on your baby to make sure they don’t roll off (babies can be SO wiggly!). Even though you’re holding your little one, lift your chest with every inhale and imagine your collar bones spreading. Stay her for a few breaths (or as long as your little one will allow) or let your inhales guide your hips up and your exhales help you release your hips back down to the floor.
This one is always a favorite of both moms and babies in my classes. (Note: This one requires baby to be able to lift up his head.) Start by lying on your back. Lift your feet off the floor, bend your knees to about 90 degrees and position them over your hips so your shins are parallel to the floor. Lift your baby up and put him onto your shins. Bounce your legs up and down gently to give baby a chance to feel like he’s flying.
Challenge Modification: Try pulling your knees in toward your face, lift your head and shoulders off the floor, and give baby a kiss. For extra core work, straighten your legs out at an angle, and pull them in for another quick smooch.
Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose)
Sit down facing the wall, lift your feet up, and wiggle worm your bottom closer to the wall so your legs can be fully supported. Then, pick up your baby, and sit them down on your hips. Their back will be supported by your legs and their legs will straddle you. Take a few deep breaths. Maybe even feel your little one rise and fall with your breath. Stay for as long as your little one will allow, then try to bring that calm, chill energy with you into the rest of your daily activities.
For more detailed instructions see How to Modify Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose for Pregnancy and Beyond.
**BIG thanks to my beautiful Mom and Baby Yoga students in North Charleston, SC for helping me out by posing for some amazing photos (and to the amazing photographer Jennifer Stanley from Jenee Ann Photography for taking the photos)
**And an even BIGGER thanks to my friend Mandy, who blogs at Yoga Addicted, for helping me fill in the gaps by snapping some photos of herself with sweet baby Freya (and big boy Miles) to show how some of these postures look in real life!
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