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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

child's pose - what my baby has taught me about yoga

In honor of my daughter's first birthday, I wanted to share some of the ways that having a baby has taught me more about yoga.

Child's pose (balasana)

Babies do yoga without even thinking about it: in her wonderful book of yoga for babies, Itsy Bitsy Yoga, Helen Garabedian lists the top five reasons why babies are natural yogis:

1. Like yogis, babies prefer to breathe through the nose
2. Like yogis, babies are only concerned with the present moment.
3. Like yogis, babies love unconditionally.
4. Like yogis, babies practice nonviolence.
5. Like yogis, babies practice yoga postures naturally as part of development.

Cobra (bhujangasana)

Seeing a baby who is just discovering how her body works get into these postures instinctively is a reminder that the yoga asanas help us to move our bodies in the ways they are supposed to move. Watching a baby learn to move and inhabit her body also reminds us of the importance of taking things in stages... in order to walk, you first have to learn to raise your head, sit up, crawl and pull up... there is no jumping to the end point! When we practice yoga, we reconnect to some of the natural movements of childhood and stay young.

Pigeon (kapotasana)

Living with a natural born yogi has given me lots of opportunities to learn and relearn some of the principles of yoga for myself. Here's my list of how living with a baby yogi has made me a better mama yogi:

1. Having a baby has awakened a new awareness of my body. (ok, having a baby has made me much more aware of EVERYTHING - including little things lying around on the floor, mysterious ingredients in packaged foods, the temperature of the air and the bathwater, and the baby-friendliness of anything and everything within 1 meter of the floor)

2. Having a baby has taught me to listen to myself and rest when I need to (and am able to :) )

3. Having a baby has helped me learn to breathe differently. Have you ever noticed that when we sing (a lullaby for example, or when we soothe with a sound of shhhhhh) it is virtually impossible to get worked up or stressed out? Singing naturally slows down and evens out the breath and lengthens our exhales, which has a calming effect.

4. Having a baby has taught me (and continues to teach me, and will continue to for the rest of my life) Patience, Focus, and Commitment, especially in the face of challenging situations. And, on the flip side, having a baby has taught me to laugh and lighten up and to be flexible when things seem REALLY challenging.

5. And finally, having baby has shown me that life really is nothing but change. As I have watched my baby grow from a tiny newborn to a nearly-walking toddler, I am amazed (and slightly nostalgic) by the incredible change that we have lived in the last year. And I am thankful to have and to have had the opportunity to live all of these fleeting moments fully.

Simple lying twist

Happy birthday my sweet little yogini.

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