LaurenHajjar and Baby Since experiencing the positive impact of yoga on the mind, body, and spirit over 10 years ago, I have come to recognize the imperative role that yoga plays in my life.  It is truly my bread and butter, my heart and soul, my sanity.   It makes me a better mom, wife, daughter, and sister.  Because of this, I feel the gift of yoga is one of the greatest gifts I can pass on to my 5-month old daughter, Sarah Ann.  I truly believe yoga has helped her to adapt to a healthy sleep-wake cycle, self-soothe, and adopt good eating habits—all resulting in a more balanced infancy.

The yoga bond that began in the womb really set a strong foundation for a trusting relationship between us.  Since my pregnancy, Sarah Ann has experienced the positive effects of breath work, asanas or poses, and meditation.  From week 16 onward, I maintained a regular practice which included gentle flow yoga with an emphasis on breath work and meditation.   This not only prevented aches and pains in my body (i.e. sciatica, stress on the low back, and swollen ankles), but also allowed me to connect with the little being inside me.  Once she was born, I would often practice my ujjayi breathing while nursing or when she was in the baby bjorn:

On a day-to-day basis, my daughter and I practice yoga together—both on and off the mat.  I integrate yoga for Sarah Ann throughout the day by facilitating techniques from both Itsy Bitsy Yoga and Childlight Yoga.  I have found the Itsy Bitsy Sleep Well Series, Good Morning Series, and Happy Baby Series to be most beneficial for Sarah Ann—both in adopting healthy sleeping and eating habits as well as improved digestion.  Sarah Ann has been sleeping through the night since she was just 4 weeks old and I am confident that the calming energy conveyed through yoga has triggered her relaxation response more quickly.  Additionally, many of the Itsy Bitsy Yoga magic poses have been effective in redirecting Sarah Ann’s fussiness into happiness—we call it “shifting the energy” in our house.  During the postures and throughout the day, I often sing her songs from the Childlight Yoga CD (IGrow With Yoga), which she absolutely loves.  

Now that she is getting a little older and her patterns change here and there, I am finding that I need to adapt techniques to help her sleep better.  For example, she now understands that when I put her in her crib, I am going to leave the room so she has started to fuss a bit more before falling asleep.  Because of this, I have started doing yoga with her just before a nap so she is calm and feels safe when I leave the room. This also translates off the mat as I consciously integrate other relaxation techniques as we transition to bedtime (i.e. warm baths, massage, read a book, soft lighting, soft tones when speaking, etc.).

Perhaps most importantly, yoga calms the mind and allows my husband and me to really connect with Sarah Ann, thus better understanding and responding to her needs.  When we relax ourselves and are conscious in our handling of and interactions with her, she has a smoother transition to the crib.   The most amazing thing about yoga is that it benefits all of us- not just Sarah Ann.  It is a great way to bring us, as parents, into the present moment and unwind from our busy days. 

For more information about Lauren's mother-daughter bond, visit her blog at www.yogimomyogababy.com.

To find an Itsy Bitsy Yoga class near you, visit www.itsybitsyyoga.com.  For classes in the Seacoast area, visit www.childlightyoga.com

Lauren Hajjar is a Certified Instructor in both Kripalu and Childlight Yoga and has been practicing yoga and meditation for over 10 years.  Lauren believes that balancing the mind, body, and spirit provides for optimal achievement and creativity.  In addition to her yoga practice, Lauren is also a Ph.D. candidate at Brandeis University and focuses her research efforts on community-based programming and outcomes evaluation.