Babies and yoga share an affinity — so much so that some yoga poses are reminiscent of the postures an infant naturally assumes (e.g, the "happy baby" pose and the "child's" pose). Maybe that's why, during a morning postnatal class at Wild Lotus Yoga (4842 Perrier St., 899-0047; www.wildlotusyoga.com), the babies are placid as chubby little Buddhas.
Postnatal yoga provides a way for new mothers to stretch and strengthen their bodies while bonding with their babies, says Jennifer Teague, a pre- and postnatal certified, registered yoga teacher at Wild Lotus. "The exercises are about strengthening and re-engaging the core muscles and thigh muscles," says Teague, who has taught yoga for eight years. "Breath is an important component, as it helps us cope with life." Mothers also learn to ease infant gas pain by performing stretches on their babies. In some poses, they use the babies' weight to add extra resistance.
The navasana, or boat pose, demonstrated by Cassie Seiple and her son Benton Seiple, strengthens the lower back, hips and abdominal muscles. "During pregnancy, [abdominal muscles] are so overstretched, so it is really important to restrengthen them after giving birth," Teague says. "Strong abdominal muscles help support the lower back, so this is a great way to prevent lower back pain."
Women should get clearance from their health care provider before undertaking this exercise. The pose can be performed at home on a mat in an uncluttered space with your baby.
1. Sit on the floor and put your baby on his back against your thighs, allowing them to support his head.
2.Bring shins parallel to the floor, balancing on the sitting bones so as to keep abdominal muscles engaged. Keep the neck and shoulders relaxed. Hold for five breaths (a breath is an inhale and an exhale).
Once the baby is bigger, you can extend your legs and stretch out arms to the sides or overhead, which makes the pose more challenging.