Baby Om: Yoga for Moms & Babies

The following is an excerpt from the book Baby Om: Yoga for Mothers and Babies by Laura Staton and Sarah Perron. Reprinted by arrangement with Henry Holt and Company. Copyright © 2002 by Baby Om, Inc. All rights reserved.

You just had a baby, and now you have two new goals: getting back in shape and enjoying close, meaningful interaction with your newborn. The Baby Om yoga workout for mom and baby can help you accomplish both goals at the same time! Baby Om teaches you a dynamic and nurturing yoga practice that you can do with your infant, anytime and anywhere.

First, when do you practice yoga? Initially, establishing a regular time will be hard -- after all, as a new parent you'll be learning to grab time wherever you can find it. Ideally, it's good to set aside a "yoga hour" at approximately the same time each day. We all know that babies thrive on routine, and sometimes so do we; we rarely find time to do the many things we put off, especially when juggling the demands of an unpredictable baby. Whether you practice in the morning -- fortifying yourself for the rest of the day -- or plan your sessions for the afternoon lull, it helps to establish consistency. For many of us, yoga works best just after the baby's nap or feeding. We found that following Baby Om time, our babies were often either ready for a nap, or willing to spend a little time on their own, freeing up some quiet periods during which we felt fresh and rested. We also found that doing the class two to three times a week was just right, transforming our bodies and our enjoyment of our babies. Even if your practice is less frequent, you can enjoy the benefits of Baby Om.

What you wear is another matter of preference. We suggest comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely. Our Baby Om standard uniform for the first year included black drawstring cotton pants, tank tops and T-shirts. You don't need any special workout gear (unless you really love that kind of thing!). The baby, of course, need follow no dress code: whatever she can wiggle in is fine. We think "onesies" are great.

Environment and Equipment
Next, where to practice. All that's really required is a space at least the length of a yoga mat (six feet or so) and the width of your arms spread out, fingers extended. The yoga mat itself, however, is almost a necessity. The mat prevents you from slipping while you are doing your poses and pads the floor slightly. Babies seem to find the spongy rubber of sticky mats endlessly fascinating. That said, a hardwood floor is also acceptable, although you will want some kind of rug or padding to soften things up for your baby. In addition, you'll need at least one pillow; we prefer couch cushions to bed pillows. You will use this pillow to prop yourself up in certain positions. Young babies also enjoy being propped up on their tummies, at the front of the mat, with extra pillows: it gives them security and develops their back extensor muscles while offering a new perspective on their stretching mom.

It is also worth finding a way to make your yoga time and space distinctive, by adding sounds, visuals or scents that you feel will calm or otherwise enhance your practice. We often place candles, even scented unlit ones, in our space (lit candles should be far out of reach, of course). Sometimes we chant; sometimes we listen to music -- any kind that adds to your relaxation will do and it doesn't even have to be officially "gentle." We've used Bach instrumentals and Schubert lieder, but also bossa nova, Janis Joplin and Primal Scream.

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