Baby Massage and Baby Yoga
A Perfect Partnership of Baby Classes
Infant massage is nurturing touch for babies based on ancient traditions. In infant massage classes, parents learn to massage their babies confidently and develop their skills in non-verbal communication. Baby yoga is a sequence of gentle body strokes; yoga poses adapted for the baby and the postnatal mother; movements to enhance development; and joyful communication between parent and child. Baby Yoga and Infant Massage are perfect partners:
“Touch and movement are complementary” (Francoise Freedman, Birthlight Founder)
Positive nurturing touch begins with calm and gentle baby massage then progresses to more playful and stimulating baby yoga. Touch, especially skin to skin, promotes the release of oxytocin hormone which initiates the effects we associate with feelings of calm and connection. As babies grow and move through developmental stages, they are ready for more than massage alone, and baby yoga provides this opportunity to continue positive touch whilst introducing new ideas and skills.
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Both infant massage and baby yoga are practical ways for parents to communicate and interact with their baby, sharing love and affection and increasing feelings of security and wellbeing. Both are ways of expressing and experiencing authentic intimacy. The sensory effects brought about by infant massage and baby yoga combine to enhance the bond between parent and baby. Increased trust, confidence, emotional balance and self-esteem are benefits for parent and baby.
During infant massage and baby yoga a parent learns to read their baby’s cues and especially understand their enjoyment of various activities, therefore correctly choosing if a baby is ready for quiet or energetic activities. Infant massage and baby yoga are both baby led. This plays an important role in the development of the baby’s sense of self and providing baby with the skills to regulate their own levels of physical or emotional excitement, attention or interest. Through interactions such as infant massage and baby yoga, parents learn to respond appropriately to their baby’s cues as their communication becomes increasingly sophisticated.
There is a myriad of physical, complementary benefits of both infant massage and baby yoga. These benefits include improved coordination and cognitive development; reduction in the production of stress hormones; relief from digestive discomfort and colic; eases other pains such as growing pains or muscular tension; improved sleep; stimulation of growth and strength; and stimulation of all the senses. A vital part of baby yoga practice is relaxation and the encouragement of joint baby and parent relaxation. These relaxation techniques build on the relaxation through touch that baby and parent enjoyed during baby massage and prove beneficial to ease baby through the many separation and reunions from their parent that they experience as they grow and develop.
Oxytocin is a crucial hormone and has a wide range of effects including growth; positive behaviours such as curiosity; reduction of stress; and boosts the immune system. Oxytocin production also increases in the parent during infant massage or baby yoga and has positive effects such as reducing stress hormones and increasing nurturing tendencies.
Parents adept in both infant massage and baby yoga skills will find that parent and child benefit from positive touch due to an increase in calming oxytocin hormone; greater bonding is facilitated as trust and communication develop; and parents learn more about their baby’s cues and desires, and therefore more regularly respond accordingly. Infant massage and baby yoga have many complementary physical benefits for parent and baby too, ranging from pain relief to improved sleep. Infant massage and baby yoga together can change “the world, one baby at a time” (Vimala McClure, IAIM Founder).
Read my blog about my Baby Yoga Training in Belfast here