‘Don’t you miss that ‘sleep’ at the end of class!?’ Vicky was asking the other mums about Yoga Nidra at the end of the Pregnancy Yoga session when she arrived for her first Baby Massage and Yoga session with young Oliver. She soon realised that indulging in such deep relaxation quickly and easily would rarely be achieved with a baby on board.
Anyone who has practised authentic Yoga Nidra in traditional Shavasana or Corpse pose will undoubtedly commend the experience. The decrease in blood flow to the analytical activity centres in the brain coupled with increased dopamine flow plus the subtle changes in brain waves, the resulting benefits include reducing psychological stress, modulating the immune function, and successfully treating PTSD.
It is a beautiful yet rare occasion when a mother can enjoy Yoga Nidra in Shavasana with her baby. But adapted postures alongside baby are equally valuable: side-lying, sitting, or standing and swaying are the most common positions for practising relaxation for the pair, while Birthlight circles create the environment for calm connections. And those who care for babies will find that they can more readily transfer the skill of releasing tension ‘off the mat’ if they attend a Birthlight class regularly. Whether waiting at the checkout with a hungry baby or dealing with a tired toddler in the cereal aisle, the Yoga-based tools from the Birthlight repertoire can be a lifesaver for remaining calm and dealing with everyday stressful situations.
Even the most experienced Yoga Teacher can find it a challenge to deliver the relaxation session to parents with children from birth to 3 years. Nurturing Baby Massage, Baby Yoga and Toddler Yoga teachers who have entered the discipline from the child development route often enjoy the advantage of understanding how to calm the infant. Whatever the prior experience of the Birthlight teacher, it will help to have a creative approach and a range of tools up your sleeve. Birthlight teachers are well aware of the symbiotic nature of the dyadic relationship. We know that whether baby-led or parent-led, it is the dyadic relationship, the united internal rhythms of the pair, that will reap the rewards.
The challenges of parenthood:
lack of sleep, financial stress, the turning upside down of your life when your adorable new-born arrives – nothing prepares you. (Let’s not forget the joy and wonderment that underpins everything.) Now there is the additional impact of ‘lockdown’ and social isolation. Birthlight has a range of simple techniques to produce the relaxation or ‘rest and repose’ effect, ranging from instant muscle relaxation to instant techniques to calm the vagus nerve. These practices reduce tension and anxiety and alleviate stress for both parent and baby.
In 1977 my life changed when a Yoga Nidra experience sparked a connection deep within me. Over 40 years later the science is still catching up to the secrets of Yoga relaxation practices. Whether we follow the popular Polyvagal Theory and how it parallels the Gunas, or read research on electroencephalography (EEG) which measures the changing brain waves, we now have an insight into the physiology of what’s happening when we apply simple practices. Scientifically they can be referred to as top-down or bottom-up, but as teachers we can label them as making a wish, setting an intention or humming the beehive or a sonic massage version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. We teach and it works!
If you’d like to be signposted to the evidence-based theories, share parent-baby calming techniques and equip yourself with some easy ways to give your families the relaxation experience, please sign up to our CPD on Relaxation. Check it out!