Birthlight is a UK based charitable trust that is dedicated to promoting a sensitive approach to pregnancy, birth and babies. We do this through innovative applications of Yoga and practical teachings from many cultures around the world.
Birthlight promotes a holistic approach to birth, integrating body, mind and emotions through the transformations of pregnancy, birth and parenting.
Promoting parents and babies happy interactions is a important way of contributing to the optimal development of children and enhancing the bonding relationships that are formed at this time.
We aim to care for both parent and baby, to teach with awareness and with respect for the individual and to build confidence and trust.
The Birthlight approach is based on the principles of Yoga, nurturing a deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationship with others. Our aim is to help both parent and baby relax in their shared enjoyment of the movements. A stable base of trust is formed and the baby can move happily into exploration and the journey to independence, forming a deep-rooted foundation for the future physical and emotional security as an adult.
Gentle birthing and parenting of our babies sets the tone for a non-violent upbringing of children and the promotion of greater peace in the world.
Cultural Origins and Inspiration
The inspiration for the approach to baby Yoga came from the Peruvian Amazon native people where Francoise 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 these classes.
The Principles & Concepts of Yoga
Yoga is an exploration into one’s depth, nature and potential as a human being. It is a personal journey to fulfillment through awareness and understanding, a way to relate to the outside world and to people around us. We only become wise through experience felt within the body and from the heart. The word “Yoga” came from the Sanskrit word Yoke meaning to join, or form a union. Yoga offers an holistic approach to health and to life. There is union of mind, body and spirit, and understanding of both the intellect and of the emotion. Spiritual and physical aspects of Yoga include the inspiring principles of awareness, respect, self-referral and balance.
The physical aspect of Yoga combines poses, breathing and relaxation to strengthen and cleanse the body.
Yoga poses stimulate the various endocrine glands according to an eastern mapping of energy centres in the human body. Most classic poses stretch and tone the skeletal muscles, which encourages symmetry in standing, sitting and walking. The entire body is then free to move without strain on the spine. Balance and good posture ensure that all the joints function well. This in turn benefits the body’s vital organs, such as the heart and the lungs as well as the digestive and nervous systems
Yoga for Babies
Babies have open hearts and minds and are ready to embrace new experiences.
They are eager for communication and interaction. Their bodies are flexible and unfolding. Yoga provides the stimulation of touch, movement and rhythm as well as the stillness of deep relaxation.
The loving handling of babies during a Yoga session and the shared enjoyment of the experience for both parent and baby promotes early bonding and creates a secure and happy foundation of well-being.
The Benefits of Birthlight Baby Yoga
The benefits of Baby Yoga include:
- Strengthening of the physical body.
- Improved digestion and relief for colicky babies.
- Balance and harmony of the body systems.
- Helps babies to move from reflex to voluntary movements.
- Stimulation of all the senses.
- Helps to settle babies and improve sleep patterns.
- Enhances communication between parent and baby.
- Tactile stimulation contributes to the development of the brain and nervous system.
- Increases babies ability to cope with future challenges.
- A celebration of the individuality of each baby.
- Bonding between mother and baby.
- Positive feelings and interaction.
- Confidence in handling the baby.
- Building trust and understanding.
- Getting to know each other.
- Security, as the baby becomes accustomed to the mother’s touch voice and smell.
- Healing for the mother after a difficult birth or when suffering post-natal depression.
- Tension release, relaxing and calming.
- Pleasure and fun!
- Stimulates the receptors in the skin.
- Increases the efficiency of the baby’s nervous system.
- Improves blood flow.
- Detoxification, movement of fluids.
- Promotes hormonal balance.
- Stimulates cell growth.
- Strengthens the muscles, keeps the spine straight and supple
- Maintains flexibility in the spine and joints.
Specific Application of Baby Yoga – Baby Yoga to Heal & Repair
Mutual enjoyment of Yoga will help the communication between parent and baby. It will become easier to identify the reasons why a baby is crying. Relaxation will help a parent to cope with the distress of frequent crying and will also calm a fretful baby.
Types of cries and what they mean:
- A loud short and intense cry caused by pain
- A continuous unhappy impatient cry caused by hunger
- Crying and irritable, rubbing eyes. The baby is tired
- Changeable, stopping and starting cry. Possibly bored
- High pitched loud cry of distress with expressive body movement
- Clenched fist loud cry and breath holding indicates rage
After removing the obvious causes of discomfort try relaxed holds and walk. The cradle hold is soothing and you can maintain eye contact. For tiredness and over stimulation use a face down position. A bored baby will enjoy lifts dips and swings. Mutual relaxation will help both parent and baby to let go of tension and reverse a downward spiral.
Many babies experience discomforts as their digestive systems develop and adapt to life in the outside world. Tensions may intensify the problem. Baby Yoga can help parent and baby to relax and to develop beneficial feeding patterns and routines. Feeding should be associated with pleasure and is an important aspect of the parent infant bond.
- Difficulties with latching on
- Slow or fast feeder
- Problem with the let down reflex
- Regurgitation and reflux
- Wind and burping
Hip sequences will help to prevent digestive problems and will relieve win and constipation. Never do Yoga sequences with a crying baby. Use relaxed holds and walks with the baby in a prone position with gentle massage to the abdominal area. A windy baby may enjoy mini drops and swings.
Deep breathing will aid the flow of milk and help mother and baby to relax and enjoy the feeding experience.
Baby Yoga will provide babies with plenty of exercise to stimulate the body and relaxation to allow then to let go of tensions and enjoy drifting off to sleep. Baby Yoga will help a baby gently move into the beneficial sleeping pattern. If babies get enough rest during the day they will experience a deeper sleep during the night. Each baby needs a different amount of sleep and it is important to recognise the signals. If the parent is stressed due to lack of sleep this will contribute to the downward spiral.
Baby Yoga will help address the balance.
Baby Yoga sequences to aid sleep:
- A gentle hip sequence in the early evening
- Contrast between activity and rest
- Energetic actions to extend play time
- Joint relaxation to help a baby to drift off to sleep