Baby Om: Yoga for Moms & Babies

Breathing
As in all yoga practices, an important basic to be aware of during your Baby Om sessions is your breathing. This is a fundamental aspect of yoga, and we'll return to it again and again in the classes. Try to use the first moments of each class to establish an awareness of your breath -- the difficulty is sustaining the awareness, especially when you have a baby to contend with. However, breathing can be the best tool you have for discovering your natural rhythms, deepening your practice, and shedding anxiety.

Paying attention to the quality of your breathing will make everything you do more effortless and deepen the effects of your practice. To do this, you will need to learn to become aware of your breath, which isn't as easy as it sounds. Standard yogic breathing involves inhaling and exhaling only through your nose. This may sound like what we do all our lives, but most people actually breathe through their mouths much of the time.

One goal in the basic breathing exercise is to slow and deepen your breaths, making your inhalation exactly even (in count) with your exhalation. If your breath is shallow and fast, you are probably tightening your throat and abdominal area and not filling your full chest cavity. You may notice that you are breathing more in your "front body" and may need to focus your breath toward your "back body." A goal of breath awareness is to become more sensitive to your breathing patterns, and if this is experienced, it's a huge accomplishment.

Chanting
At the beginning and end of each class we usually chant Om from one to three times, but this isn't mandatory. We do it because it marks the beginning and end of our practice, because it affects the body with the resonance of sound, and because the babies love it. To chant Om, let the sound rise up from your abdomen and release it through a relaxed and open throat. Give the same value to both the o and the m. Experiment with pitch and tone; some days your tone may be high, other days it might be low. We don't always hit the same note and the length is not always the same; regardless, the babies still perk up and take notice, and the feeling in the room changes as our energies become more unified.

Baby Exercises
The most important basic regarding the baby exercises is flexibility. Once you get a feel for these exercises, do as much or as little as you and your baby want, and select whatever mood feels right at the time, from stimulating play to soothing movement. Some days you may feel more focused on your child, others more on yourself: improvise and follow your instinct. Since each practice is a new experience for both of you -- sometimes yielding unpredictable responses -- we have found that the less of an agenda you set, the better. Never force your baby to do anything, but please note that a little fussing, especially when the baby is on her stomach (tummy play), is very common. Try to stay calm if your baby cries. Remember, a little frustration is considered beneficial for their future abilities in problem solving!

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