I had to laugh out loud when I saw a picture of the newest trend in the wonderful world of yoga: the newborn baby yoga mat. Yes, it looks well made. It’s cute. It’s pinteresting. It will conveniently fit in a large diaper bag. But it’s for babies. Not toddlers or young children, but straight-out-of-the-womb newborns. I have to ask, “is a product like this truly necessary? Or just a byproduct of the consumerist/capitalist world we live in?” First, let me say that I know this sounds a little bit hypocritical... I’m writing this blog for a website that sells yoga equipment and accessories. I know, I know … I’m just posing a question/thought to my fellow yogis and the yoga community as a whole. I work with yoga mats all day, and have seen my fair share of silly/ridiculous mats that can best be described as semi-desperate marketing ploys.
But I digress; back to the baby mats: this one is 16 inches wide and 30 inches long. To give you a visual, that’s the same as two average-sized shoe boxes next to each other. It’s made for babies under 9 months old. Babies that can’t even sit up much less stand up, walk, or do any kind of yoga whatsoever. If you are lucky, your tiny baby will lay there on his or her back and fall asleep, which I guess is cute if you do a lot of yoga at home and want your baby to “do” yoga with you. But then you run the risk of falling on your newborn child and following this thought, it all goes downhill from here. There’s a company called Birthlight that runs a series of “yoga for babies” classes and videos of these classes are on their Youtube channel. These shocking videos are horrifying. There’s no way to sugar-coat it, really. Dangerous and horrifying. Babies are good. Yoga is good. But babies plus yoga is a terrible idea, and BAD NEWS.
If you are a new mommy and daddy works all day, leaving you home with a newborn and no one to talk to for months on end. I can see how you might start to feel kind of crazy after a few long, sleepless weeks. Baby yoga mats are silly, newborns can not and should not do yoga, and please beware of dangerous marketing ploys in cute packaging. If you need to get out of the house and hit the studio, get a sitter. If you need to do some safe, postnatal yoga to get back in shape, I feel you. There’s nothing wrong with placing for sleeping tot in a safe crib in your living room while grooving to a postnatal DVD. There are better ways to bond with a child than jostling your child around in unnatural motions or giving them a shake because a yoga teacher tells you that it’s safe. It’s not safe. ‘Mommy and Me’ instructors say that you can start doing yoga with your baby anytime from the time that they are born to 18 months. That sounds like a pretty large range of time. I have done a little bit of research and have found very little scientific-based evidence pointing to a “safe” age in which you can safely practice yoga on the same mat as your mini-me. I would suppose that at least, your child should be able to sit up and maybe even stand up on it’s own before even thinking about ‘Mommy and Me’ yoga.
One safe yoga-based practice you CAN do with your child that has a soothing effect on your child and might stop him/her from crying is to hold your child close to your chest while practicing Ujjayi breath. Postnatal yoga is a whole different ballgame. It does not involve doing yoga with a newborn child, but rather will help your body adapt to any new changes that may have recently occurred as a side effect of childbirth. Postnatal yoga DVDs are available for home practice, because getting out of the house is hard with a newborn child. Postnatal yoga sequences are designed to tone and firm the body in areas that might need it the most: torso, core, and abs as well as the pelvic floor. Certain asanas can be done to target problem areas or health issues you may be experiencing, such as fatigue, upset stomach, loss of endurance, and more.