As a first time mum, with this wonderful little bundle of joy, I was amazed and pleased at how many mother and baby classes there were available to us. Of course I tried as many as I could attend and could afford, which was positive but also I was running around trying o get to lots of different classes to give my baby the best stimulation for all different developmental areas . All baby and infant classes offer their own benefits. I found however, that after having two little bundles of joy, I realised that by attending baby massage and then yoga classes, I have not only instilled practices and developments that will continue long after the baby phases, but we were able to have specific quality time with each other which further enhanced our bonding process. This was built into these sessions, whereas not all classes have this. This is the reason why I now provide the massage and yoga classes for others, in a similar way to the way I experienced them but with my own adjustments using my past experiences.
Massage and Yoga is not something done to the baby, but with a baby. The classes are interactive, between parent and baby, with social and fun elements included such as songs, movements, practice for parents including relaxation practices.
Benefits of Massage and Yoga
Movement is fundamental to us all, and as a Physical Education teacher for many years, it has always been at the heart of everything I provide for children, even for my own family. Here are a few of the amazing benefits
Bonding: Encourages bonding and attachment through positive touch and physical sequences to enhance development.
Relaxing: Promoting wellbeing through breathing and gently yoga stretches with baby and for oneself.
Stimulating: Grows body awareness and development and supports many body systems including to name two, the digestive and vestibular systems.
Relief: Calming and soothing practices for mind and body.
Quality time: A relaxed atmosphere to dedicate time to yourself and your baby Promoting parents’ and babies’ happy interactions is an important way of contributing to the optimal development of children, enhancing and bonding relationships that are formed at this time.
Mothers, fathers and carers see a truly holistic approach to baby care and parenting from the early stages of parenthood integrating body, mind and emotions through the transformations. All classes are baby led, we watch for babies cues and meet their needs.
The classes are designed to create a friendly, interactive environment to teach and support within a group setting. The aim is to care for both the parent and baby, to teach with awareness and with respect for the individual and to build confidence and trust.
There are also opportunities for one to one sessions, and group sessions for instance like an NCT group who wish to continue their journey together.
Why Baby Massage?
The practice of infant massage is an ancient practice, particularly in Asia and Pacific Island cultures; they belief that touch is considered to be healthful to the physical. And spiritual body. The massage and movement techniques are taught in group classes, or in one-to-one sessions. The aim of these classes is to impart a feeling of well-being between the parent and baby in their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual journey. This in turn enables parent and baby to grow and learn together, creating ever-expanding spirals of joy.
Being touched and caressed, being massaged is food for the infant. Food as necessary as minerals, vitamins and proteins. Deprived of this food, the name of which is love, babies would rather die, and they often do.
The progression from Massage to Yoga
There are still some elements of massage within yoga classes. The massage will have begun the expansion of the baby’s body. The focus then is on gentle stretches.
The positive touch initiated through the massage classes progresses to playful yoga and exploration of the potential movement of the body.
Yoga is not the complicated moves we see on Instagram, it is personal to everyone and it is about self-awareness, registering how stress and other factors affects us. A parents emotions can be communicated unwittingly through our body and yoga can help us to recognise this. Yoga can give us a bank of tools to help relax a parent and therefore a baby (joint parent-baby relaxation.)
The Birthlight History
My training has been completed through Birthlight. The inspiration for the approach to baby yoga and massage came from the Peruvian Amazon native people where Françoise Freedman, the founder of Birthlight, conducted her fieldwork for Cambridge University.
She observed the wonderful ways in which the Amazonian families handled and cared for their babies and applied the ideas to her own children. Some traditional techniques used with infants in India have also been incorporated and adapted into the sequences. Years of practice and research underlie the integrated set of exercises presented in this course. (ref: https://birthlight.com/about/ )
Birthlight is a UK based charitable trust that is dedicated to promoting a sensitive approach to pregnancy, birth and infants.