I’ll admit it. I had not heard of Baby Yoga before I had Jack and the image it conjures up is quite cute and funny – little baby all zen and calm in the lotus pose. I was sceptical.
My cousin recommended it to me and I was nervous. I was nervous about how my tiny boy would cope trying to do it with, at the time, oxygen tubes and sats probes still attached. I was also nervous because it would be my first venture to any type of Mum and Baby Group and I was very conscious of germs and illness that might come along with meeting other babies.
Baby Yoga, for those that don’t know, is a group where the parent and baby can have “playful interaction” and it enhances communication and development. It involves massage to promote healthy digestion and sleep, and also helping your baby into certain positions (along to fun songs and rhymes) which will progress their mobility. There are little stretches and massage for tiny babies in one class and more active exercises for those that have started to roll and crawl. Then, if we can manage (baby permitting), a little 5 minute calm time for meditation and relaxing.
As you may know, Jack has been having Physiotherapy for months since he was discharged from the NICU to aid his physical development. Because he spent the first 3 months of his life encouraged to be still (to avoid spending energy otherwise needed to heal his fragile lungs), he is slightly delayed. We try to help him develop at his adjusted age, AKA the age he should have been had he been born full term. He has physic every few weeks and we get given exercises and moves to help him learn to be more independent. It strengthens his weaker muscles and promotes balance and coordination.
Oh, am I glad we went to Baby Yoga! Firstly, it has turned out to be a lovely experience for me and Jack to continue bonding. It’s difficult being in the NICU with cuddles being limited and feeling like you aren’t your baby’s primary carer but this class was wonderful. We had our hour once a week to interact one on one and learn new holds and massage techniques as well as stretches and nursery rhymes.
As the months went by, I started to realise that our Baby Yoga sessions were like little Physio top-ups between hospital visits. The exercises given in Physio were then practised regularly in a fun way through the yoga group. Physio can often be hard work, for anyone, because you are using weaker muscles in specific ways and holding them sometimes for uncomfortable amounts of time. Jack was often extremely tired and a little moody after physic from holding poses he finds new and different. Don’t get me wrong, it is enjoyable with fun toys and immensely helpful. He can now sit unaided, which has been the holy grail for months and months! Baby Yoga helps him into gentle versions of these poses without him realising that he’s working.
There were certain things we didn’t do at first due to lack of head control/presence of oxygen tubes but now he can try everything! He even goes upside down!
We had our last session of Baby Yoga last week and I will miss it loads. He’s getting a bit big and heavy for certain moves and as a group our babies have all grown so much. It’s time to make some space in the class for the littler ones to move up and progress.
I would recommend Baby Yoga to everyone, term or prem, as it’s a lovely class but I really value how helpful and complimentary it has been to Jack’s Physiotherapy. Definitely give it a go!
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