Mommy and me workout: 10 yoga poses to do with your baby or toddler
One thing I have struggled with since becoming a mom is finding time for myself again. Being a yoga instructor, I had a very strong yoga practice before becoming a mom. When my daughter was a newborn I felt lucky just to get a hot shower let alone find time for yoga. However as I returned to work I managed to find a schedule that worked for me where I could squeeze in a little gym time. What I really miss the most is going to yoga classes. I honestly just can’t get to them right now with my schedule and the fact that I refuse to go to a class in the evening because that is my precious time with my babe. So I have found creative ways to still practice yoga every day and most of the time this involves my baby. I must say, it was so much easier doing mommy and me workouts when she was 3 months old and unable to move around! However I can usually bribe her to practice yoga with me with some kisses and cheerios! Here I have put together some of my favorite yoga poses that you can do with your baby or toddler. All you need is a yoga mat and your little one. I can’t promise your baby will cooperate but I can tell you that Piper and I always have fun trying!
10 yoga poses you can try with your baby or toddler at home!
- Yoga Pose: High lunge variation: Start by standing at the top of your yoga mat, holding your baby. Step your left foot back so that your right knee bends to a 90 degree angle ( making sure your knee does not extend over your toes). Start with you left leg straight and heel lifted. Keep your abs engaged, chest lifted and shoulders down away from your ears. Inhale and smile at your baby, exhale as you bend the left knee into a lower lunge. Perform this 10x and then switch sides. My little one loves the bouncing movement and is usually laughing the whole time. Of course she is not laughing in this picture!
- Yoga Pose: Warrior 2 variation: Stand at the top of your yoga mat holding your baby. Step your right foot back so that your left knee bends to a 90 degree angle ( making sure your knee does not extend over your toes). Keep your right leg straight and turn your back foot out to about a 90 degree angle, opening up your hips so they are facing the long edge of your mat. Keep your abs engaged, chest lifted and shoulders down away from your ears. Hold your baby and interact with her as you hold this for 5 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
- Yoga pose: Tree pose: For this pose, you can stand next to a wall if you feel unsteady or need a little help with balance! Standing on your mat holding your baby: engage your abs by drawing your navel in towards your spine. Bend one knee and bring the sole of that foot to the inner thigh of the standing leg. If this is too much for you, you can bring your foot to the shin or even to your ankle as you work on improving your balance. If you feel really stable, you can interact with your baby. If you a need a little more help with balance try to find a steady object in front of you that you can focus your eyes on.Hold for 5 deep breaths and then repeat on the opposite side.
- Yoga Pose: Downward facing dog: Begin on hands and knees with your baby in front of you on your yoga mat. Drawing your navel in towards your spine, lift your knees off the ground as you press back into downward facing dog as shown here. Try lifting your hips, squeezing your thighs and then pressing back through your heels to lengthen your spine and the hamstrings. Make sure to engage your shoulders by keeping them down away from your ears. Here you can interact with your baby. Hold for 5-10 breaths. I thought it would be fun to show you all the difference between doing this pose with a 5 month old versus a 1 year old… so much harder…but it can be done!
- Yoga Pose: Chatturanga Dandasana: Begin in a plank position as shown with your baby at the front of your mat so you can interact with her. Make sure you have good alignment: your back should be nice and straight, abs engaged and shoulders down away from your ears. You can always modify this pose by dropping to your knees! Take a nice deep inhale. Exhale and slowly lower yourself (like a tricep push up) by bending your elbows; keeping your elbows glued to the sides of your rib cage. If your baby is still right in front you…give her a quick kiss and return to plank position. Repeat 5x.
- Yoga Pose: Spinx pose with a kiss: My baby loves to lay on her tummy and crawl to give kisses so this one is always fun for us. Start by laying on your stomach. Bring your elbows underneath your shoulders and gently press up to extend your spine. Keep your shoulders down away from your ears and think about squeezing your shoulder blades towards each other. Give you baby a kiss as shown! Hopefully your baby will cooperate.. Piper did for this photo shoot but trust me she doesn’t always! Hold for 5 breaths.
- Yoga Pose: Half bow pose in quadruped. This is one of my favorite yoga poses for working on core stability while opening up the hip flexors and spine. Start on hands and knees with your wrists lined up under your shoulders and knees under your hips. When piper was really little ( as shown here) I would just smile and play with her. Now I do have to bribe her with some snacks in order for her to stay in this pose with me! Keeping your spine straight and abs engaged, bend your left knee as you reach behind you with your right hand and grab ahold of your left ankle as shown. Inhale as your lift your leg up towards the sky: you should feel a nice stretch your hip flexors ( the front of your left thigh). Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
- Yoga Pose: Boat pose: Begin in a seated position on your mat holding your baby in front of you. Draw your navel in towards your spine lean back slightly onto your SITS bones. Extend your legs out in front of you and play with your baby as your work that core as shown. You can modify this pose by keeping your knees bent. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
- Yoga Pose Bridge pose: Lie on you back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor; holding your baby on your lap. Keep your back straight, abs engaged as your lift your hips up off the floor into a bridge position. Play with your baby as you hold this pose for 5 breaths.
- Yoga Pose: Wide legged forward fold: This is one of my favorite yoga poses for opening up the hips and lengthening the hamstrings; plus it just feels really good. Stand on your yoga mat with your legs extended out to the sides ( as far as you can comfortably go), toes slightly turned in, with your baby in front of you. In my case, she did not want to sit still so she is hanging out on the side of me! Inhale here. Exhale and start to fold forward from the waist as you lower yourself down to your mat until you feel a stretch in your hips. I like to bring myself onto my elbows but if this is too much for you, you can always place a yoga block or a few books in front of you and place your hands here instead. Squeeze your inner thighs toward each other and keep your abs engaged to protect your spine. Hold for 10 breaths.
So there you have it! These are honestly the yoga poses that I find actually doable with a baby, well I should say 1 year old. It’s certainly not as easy to get her to sit still as it used to be, but she finds it fun as long as mommy is giving her lots of kisses!
Exercise should be fun and enjoyable. It’s not the yoga practice that I was used to prior to baby, however my entire life if not what it was before baby. And you know what? I am completely okay with that. I will get my practice in whenever I can, however I can. I hope you enjoy this routine!
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Dr. Allie Flowers, PT, DPT, RYT