Master yoga instructor, wellness advisor, and owner of Ritual Care, Kelly Newsome Georges, and her 6-month old daughter, Sage, designed this simple flow of baby-friendly yoga poses that you can integrate with your everyday activities. The key to keeping it simple is to stop looking for uninterrupted time in your schedule and get creative with the time that you do have. Kelly, who left a career in corporate law in 2009 to help busy women breathe easier, calls this "you-don't-even-know-you're-doing-it" yoga for moms.
The poses range from mild to moderate intensity; you can do them individually, or follow the suggested sequence below, which alternates among strength, stretch, rigor, and rest. The operative word is "suggested." Feel free to move the order around until you feel comfortable in your practice. Kelly recommends starting with a few deep breaths for 5 to 10 counts with each pose. "When you're ready, feel free to increase to 1 to 3 minutes for each pose, using your deep breathing for strength and serenity," she adds. Never feel pressured or rushed. This is your practice, on your terms. The beauty of yoga is its transformative ability to meet you where you are and take you only where you need to go.
The name says it all. You can do this anywhere, from your living room floor to your favorite park. It's a great pose to start with if you're building a sequence. You'll love the wave of calm that starts to permeate through your body, and your baby will love taking in the beauty of the world around her. Begin by sitting up straight and crossing your legs. Next, place your baby on your lap, facing outward. Close your eyes and stay mindful of your posture and breaths as you get centered and find your happy place.
Goddess pose is great for opening your hips and strengthening your thighs. You can do it while you're grooving to your favorite song or even stacking the dishwasher.
Start by putting your baby in a carrier facing forward, or, if you want a good arm workout, you can hold him or her in your arms. If you opt for the latter, put one hand across her belly and put the other hand around one of her thighs to keep a good grip while you're moving. Next, spread your legs apart into a wide squat position with your feet pointing slightly outward. Your shins should be perpendicular to the floor and your feet and ankles should be aligned with your knees.
Think about the soft spot on the crown of your baby's head and imagine that you have a line that's pulling you from the same spot on your own head to lengthen your spine. Take a deep breath in, then lower your body to knee level as you exhale. Inhale as you straighten your legs and repeat. Your baby will love the up and down motion and you'll get a serious workout too (warning: your thighs will definitely feel the heat)!
Forward Fold Pose
Every time you bend over to pick up your baby from the floor, linger there for a bit. It's great for releasing your shoulders (you can feel the tension melting away) and lengthening your spine after the hunchback posture that plagues so many moms with babies.
Start by placing your baby on the floor in front of you, sitting or lying comfortably. Then, from a standing position, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly, lower your head and bring your belly in toward your thighs. Keep your back straight. Hold on to opposite elbows or the back of your ankles with your hands. Let your head hang and your baby explore freely as you breathe into back of your heart. "Imagine that you're letting out a big 'ahhhhh,'" says Kelly.
Half-Boat pose is great for strengthening your thighs, core, back, and chest while your baby gets a little tummy time too. If possible, try doing this pose near a place where your ankles can rest on a ledge (as shown), a stack of books or other similar structure for support, especially if you're new to yoga.
Start in a seated position with your legs stretched out and your baby on your lap facing outward. Or, if she seems uncomfortable, try placing her on her back facing you. Sit up straight and lift the front of your chest outward.
Next, while holding your baby, bend your knees at a 45-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. Then, keeping your knees together, slowly lift your feet until your heels reach the ledge. If you're not using the ledge, lift your feet until your shins are parallel to the floor. As you lean back, focus on keeping your back straight.
When I'm in a yoga class, this feels like a tall glass of ice water on a hot day after I've willed my way through a difficult pose. It always comes at exactly the right time and I always feel instant relief once I'm resting comfortably. The great thing about having Child's Pose in your mommy yoga routine is that you can stop and do it whenever you need to take a break and restore your energy. Use it like an instant reset button by itself or save it for dessert at the end of a sequence.
Start by letting your baby lie comfortably on her back in front of you. To get in position, sit on your heels and lower your torso between your thighs until your head reaches your baby's belly. Turn to the side and let your head rest there without putting your weight on the baby and release your shoulders toward the floor. Put your arms behind you (palms up) or extend them in front of you (palms down) to frame the baby as you relax in the fetal position. How's that for role reversal?