Get Fit with Baby

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Bond while building your core

After the amazing and grueling experience of birth, new moms need a lot of time before their bodies make a full recovery. “Post-natal yoga was my way to gain confidence in my body after having my baby a year and a half ago,” said Isabelle Cyr, a Canadian who now teaches a class at Yoga Yard for moms and their babies. In Cyr’s classes, moms have lots of bonding time – with their babies and also with other moms. Here, Cyr demonstrates a basic workout designed for moms and their babies with 3-month-old Tyler Stokes.

Cow Facing Pose
This pose stretches and opens your hips. The first variation (1) doubles as a breastfeeding position. The second variation (1-3) stretches the upper body, especially the shoulders.

1. Cross legs and stack your right knee on top of your left, keeping each foot turned so that the little toes rest on the floor.

2. Inhale and stretch your right arm out to shoulder height. Rotate arm inward. Exhaling, sweep arm behind you, bending the elbow and walking fingers up the back; palm faces away from the body.

3. Inhale and lift your left arm to the ceiling. Reach down for the right hand; the palm faces your body. If your hands can’t quite reach, hang a strap down from your top hand to hold.

Cat and Cow with Variation
This warm-up stretches the back. You can turn the sequence into a game with your baby by blowing on his belly and tickling him with your hair.

1. Place the baby on his back in front of you.

2. Start on all fours with a flat back, hands shoulders’ width apart, knees and feet hips’ width apart.

3. Cat pose: Inhale and lift your chest and sitting bones toward the ceiling. Return to neutral position.

4. Cow pose: Exhale and round your back without shifting your shoulders or hips. Return to neutral position.

5. Repeat a number of times. Using the breath, guide the speed of the movements.

6. Return to a flat back position. Breathing in, twist your head to the right to look toward your rear, gently twisting your spine. Breathing out, return to a neutral position. Repeat on the opposite side.

In the post-natal stage, mothers should avoid intense stretches of the back. This pose provides a gentle and effective stretch for the back.

1. Place the baby on his back or belly in front of you.

2. Lie on your belly, hands flat below shoulders. Using the breath, prop yourself up on elbows. Rotate outer thighs toward the floor and stretch toes behind you. Maintain pose for three breathing cycles, then exhale to a lying-down position.

Half Boat with Variation
Your abs will grow stronger, and the many variations of this pose will keep your mind engaged. This pose also allows your baby to move with you.

1. From a seated position, press hands on the floor behind you and lean back, engaging abdominal muscles.

2. Lift legs up and bend at the knee so that lower legs are parallel to the floor. For a gentle pose, cradle baby against your thighs. For more challenge, securely balance baby (belly down) on top of your lower legs, holding him at the hips or by his hands.

3. Bring arms to the front, straight and in line with the shoulders. Hold for a few seconds, keeping the breath flowing.

4. For a variation, bring your knees toward your chest, then return to the original pose. This is a great time to play with baby.

5. Alternatively, raise your feet up, bringing baby in an angled position and raising your chest to come closer to him to blow him a kiss. Repeat.

Modified Triangle with Variation
This pose strengthens the spine and opens the hamstrings, hips, and lower back.

1. Hold baby in your arms (facing toward you if younger than 3 months). One hand supports the baby between his legs, the other across his chest.

2. Step your feet apart wider than shoulders and press them firmly into the floor. Keep your back straight and hips in a
neutral position.

3. Exhale and squat; knees should not extend beyond your feet. Feet and knees should point in the same direction. Repeat a number of times. Older babies can enjoy faster repetitions.

4. For variation, hold your baby to your chest, facing you. As you exhale, hinge at the hips, leaning your torso forward until your back is parallel to the floor. As you inhale, lift your torso to an upright position.

5. For a little more challenge, from the flat back position, continue to fold down and place baby lightly on the floor, after which you can continue the fold to provide an additional stretch to the legs and hips. Breathe in the pose a few seconds before bringing yourself and baby back up to standing.

Modified Tree
A pose that helps you regain balance while engaging lower back and abdominal muscles. Start out leaning against a wall for support. As you gain strength, seat baby on your thigh, and eventually move off the wall.

1. Hold baby in your arms (facing your chest if younger than 3 months).

2. Place feet parallel to mat, shoulders’ width apart. Spread toes on the floor, and shift weight onto left foot.

3. Lift right knee and place the sole of your foot against your left inner thigh.

4. Raise one arm overhead and stretch toward the ceiling while the other holds the baby.

Legs Up the Wall
This restorative pose keeps the baby comfortable and allows you to take a break. For support, place a folded blanket underneath your pelvis.

1. From a seated position on the floor, swing your legs up on the wall and let your upper body lie on the floor. Keep your legs firm.

2. Place baby on your lap
(facing you). Alternatively, baby can lie on your chest. Stay in this position and enjoy the feeling of your natural breath for several minutes.

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