(From Our Special Section on Yoga and Children-Growing Yogis)
Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby
An Interview with Jyothi Larson
According to Jyothi Larson, "Practicing Yoga
with your baby is a wonderful way to add joy to your first year
together." This popular Yoga teacher talks about the specially adapted
Yoga poses she has taught hundreds of moms and their "Buddha babies"-her
term for the happy and calm babies in her classes.
Integral Yoga Magazine: What led you to teach postnatal Yoga?
Jyothi Larson: About 10 years ago, I started teaching a
postnatal class at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York City. I had been
teaching the prenatal class already and I felt that I was letting the moms
down by having the program stop after they had given birth. I think that
women especially need it after the birth. I wanted to start a class that
women could comfortably come to with their babies.
New moms are tired a lot. And, as the baby gets heavier, mom's posture
suffers. So, Yoga really helps. I think that the babies really benefit
from it too because they are with mothers who have a community where they
can share their concerns.
After my daughter was born, I realized the importance of a community for new
mothers. The class just grew and grew. Now there can be up to 25 moms and
babies. It started as a class for babies six weeks old to crawling. Now
there is another class for babies from crawling to about 18 months.
IYM: What do you do in your classes?
JL: I never know what we are going
to do on a particular day because I don't know what age group will show up,
or the mood of the babies. So, I just go with what is going on with the
babies. We usually do about half the class with games, exercises, and
asanas for the babies. And, the rest is pranayama and asanas for the mothers.
I stress the importance of continuing to do Kegel exercises and the importance
of breathing and posture.
IYM: How often is the class?
JL: The class for the younger babies is
once a week at the NYIYI. The class for the older children (crawling to
18-months) is twice a week. Because the babies are crawling and walking around,
we limit the class to 12 people. What I really love is that the moms often form
groups outside of class. And, I really hope that what they pick up in class
they will take home and use.
A lot of the class is just fun things to do
with the baby. If your baby is getting a bit cranky or fussy, you can always
put them up on your shins and do "flying babies." If you hold your child with
ease and comfort and let them feel safe, it makes them feel so good.
If your kids are throwing major tantrums when they are two-years-old, you can
sometimes just pick them up and breathe that deep deergha swaasam breath with
them and it can really mellow them out.
IYM: How do you adapt the class to the younger babies?
JL: I adapt it by playing games with
them. We'll do something with their arms that we call "open, shut them."
It is basically, [Jyothi demonstrates while singing] "Open, shut them; Open,
shut them; Open, shut them; Put them in your lap, lap, lap!" The moms are
doing the motions for the babies and the babies are getting the stretches.
Babies are such natural yogis. They do the cobra pose on their own. It is very
exciting when they start pushing up and lifting up their head. Downward dog is
a natural for children. They like to crawl underneath their mothers as they are
doing their Yoga. You can do the pigeon pose with your baby right in front of
you while you're singing a little song to him or her.
I look at it more as a way of bonding with your child, so that you can still
get your Yoga practice. Because when you are a new mother, you may have been
used to rolling out your mat every day at a certain time. You don't get to do
that any more. This gives you a chance to still do your Yoga while being with
|read the full article, along with photos, in the
Spring 2004 issue
order the Spring 2004 issue now!