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Why You Should Do the Downward Dog with Your Baby

Kristin McGee shares 7 benefits of baby and me yoga.

Why You Should Do the Downward Dog with Your Baby

Yoga with a baby is a tricky trail to navigate, but with patience and consistency you can build a budding practice that includes your little one while also reaping the benefits now and for years to come.

After growing a little one inside of you, you're hoping to get back in shape, but you're also dealing with all kinds of newness: sleep deprivation, misaligned schedules, and a rollercoaster of emotions. Yoga is a gentle way to reconnect with your postpartum body while also strengthening your core. And if you can't imagine letting your little one out of your sight, you can create a yoga routine that includes him or her. You can start immediately postpartum with gentle stretches and build your way to a full-blown practice as you reach each physical milestone together.

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Need a little encouragement to get started with mommy and me yoga? Here are 7 benefits.

1. Practicing wherever you want. There are plenty of mommy and me classes, but one of the biggest benefits of a yoga practice is its portability. Having to be at a specific place at a specific time is no easy feat with an unpredictable toddler or infant, not how stressful it can get to fall behind on your schedule. Don’t feel let down if you can’t practice at a studio. Just roll out a mat or blanket wherever you are and do a few stretches.

2. Deepening bond for mother and child. This was certainly the biggest draw for me with all of my babies. Yoga means to unite or join. When you do yoga on your own, you're uniting your mind and body through your breath. As a new mom, you're often so scattered and that energy is contagious. If you take time to center yourself on your mat, you're doing everyone a huge favor. When you do it with your baby, you're also uniting with him or her. Even just sitting in a cross legged position and breathing together is so therapeutic and bonding.

3. Instilling healthy habits from birth. My firstborn is now four years old, and he still loves to do yoga with me. Babies are open to anything and everything. When they start doing something from such a young stage, it is with them for years to come. You're setting the tone for yourself and giving your children an incredible example to follow.

4. Being more patient. When you are sleep deprived, your fuse are likely to be super short. Practicing yoga with your baby will remind you to calm down and take a deep breath. Having to care for a newborn or even a moody toddler can be very challenging and overwhelming; but when you get on your mat, all of that anxiety and impatience will melt away.

5. Keeping baby calm. Calm breathing is contagious. When your baby is fussy, the best thing you can do is some breathing and yoga. I noticed my son and now my twins really sense that calm, smooth breath.

6. Making mommy-ing easier. Yoga makes us strong and flexible, and it releases tension in your joints. When you have more freedom in your joints, you're less stiff from nursing or pushing a stroller or carrying your baby. Yoga also strengthen your core, which will make it easier to hold your child for hours on end.

7. Being present and cherishing the moments. Babies grow so fast! I'm always told to cherish this time because it goes so quickly. It's hard not to get caught up in future planning or not to think about whether your little one will sleep through the night. Yoga teaches us to be present and truly soak up the moment. This is one of the best reasons ever to get on the mat with your little one.

So that's just a few incredible benefits you can expect when you start to practice mommy and me yoga. Start with cat/cow with your little one under you on the mat, try some downward dog tummy rubs, kiss me chaturanga push-ups and baby boat rides. In no time, your body will be back in shape and your bond with your baby even deeper.

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