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Babies, Yoga, and Exercise – Oh My!


There is a saying that you are never too old to exercise. It also might be true that you are never too young. Some fitness conscious parents have their babies take yoga class, hoping an early introduction to formalized movement will help keep the children fit.

Six-month-old Milo may have no idea what he is doing or where he is. But he comes to this place called the Boundless Yoga Studio in Washington, D.C. every Friday and practices movements such as 'Tushie Touches’ or 'Kicky Cobra'.

In the studio, babies as young as three-months-old Carson are taking sing-and-do yoga class.

Carson' mother, Patricia Talbott, believes that he enjoys doing yoga and benefits from it. "I think it also helps with his flexibility and also his motor skills and development, and to get him into different poses he might not normally get into."

Yoga instructor Moira Clarkin says that babies learn various yoga poses or movements designed to help calm and soothe them, though they need a considerable assist from an adult. She also states, "It's believed that some of the yoga poses help with digestion, sleeping -- definitely sleeping -- and then just having fun. We modify the poses based on the developmental stage of the baby in the class."

For instance, 'Hop Along Yogi' and 'Divine Drops' are meant to be soothing poses. 'Hip Circle' is for digestion. ‘Apana’ is for extension and flexion of the legs.

Itsy Bitsy Yoga classes, open to children from three weeks to two years of age, is based on a program developed by Massachusetts yoga instructor and author Helen Garabedian. She claims that a fit baby equals a fit toddler, equals a fit child, equals a fit teen, equals a fit adult.

Eric Small, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on Sports Medicine, agrees that the best time to start exercise or movement is as soon as a baby is born. Though he advises that taking a formal class could be risky, he also says, "I am concerned. I have seen several cases where the instructors move the infant's knee or shoulder and prolong stretch. And these cause the joint and knee or shoulder dislocation or the joints pop out of place."

"Any activity that one does with an infant you have to use good common sense,” he continued. “And beyond good common sense one should have a degree or knowledge or expertise in infant and childhood development."

The parents don't seem to be worried. And they find another benefit in the class.

Julie Camerata has brought Asa to class for two months now. "I think it's great for coordination and stimulation. He really likes being around other babies. So, just for socialization I think it's really great."

And they have a relaxation time at the end of the session just like adults.

Well, would the babies understand?

Moira Clarkin says, "They may not show us they understand relaxation but as they continue on and grow into toddlers, the toddlers definitely can show us they understand the relaxation as calming and quieting time and they learn that when they start as babies. Babies know a lot more than we give them credit for."

Whether these babies know what they are doing now or not, their little activities may contribute to building a foundation for a healthy lifestyle later on.

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