Sample from the Spring 2004 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine
An Interview with Jyothi Larson
According to Jyothi Larson, “Practicing Yoga with your baby is a wonderful way to add joy to your first year together.” This popular Yoga teacher talks about the specially adapted Yoga poses she has taught hundreds of moms and their “Buddha babies”-her term for the happy and calm babies in her classes.
Integral Yoga Magazine: What led you to teach postnatal Yoga?
Jyothi Larson: About 10 years ago, I started teaching a postnatal class at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York City. I had been teaching the prenatal class already and I felt that I was letting the moms down by having the program stop after they had given birth. I think that women especially need it after the birth. I wanted to start a class that women could comfortably come to with their babies.
New moms are tired a lot. And, as the baby gets heavier, mom’s posture suffers. So, Yoga really helps. I think that the babies really benefit from it too because they are with mothers who have a community where they can share their concerns.
After my daughter was born, I realized the importance of a community for new mothers. The class just grew and grew. Now there can be up to 25 moms and babies. It started as a class for babies six weeks old to crawling. Now there is another class for babies from crawling to about 18 months.
IYM: What do you do in your classes?
JL: I never know what we are going to do on a particular day because I don’t know what age group will show up, or the mood of the babies. So, I just go with what is going on with the babies. We usually do about half the class with games, exercises, and asanas for the babies. And, the rest is pranayama and asanas for the mothers. I stress the importance of continuing to do Kegel exercises and the importance of breathing and posture.
IYM: How often is the class?
JL: The class for the younger babies is once a week at the NYIYI. The class for the older children (crawling to 18-months) is twice a week. Because the babies are crawling and walking around, we limit the class to 12 people. What I really love is that the moms often form groups outside of class. And, I really hope that what they pick up in class they will take home and use.
A lot of the class is just fun things to do with the baby. If your baby is getting a bit cranky or fussy, you can always put them up on your shins and do “flying babies.” If you hold your child with ease and comfort and let them feel safe, it makes them feel so good. If your kids are throwing major tantrums when they are two-years-old, you can sometimes just pick them up and breathe that deep deergha swaasam breath with them and it can really mellow them out.
IYM: How do you adapt the class to the younger babies?
JL: I adapt it by playing games with them. We’ll do something with their arms that we call “open, shut them.” It is basically, [Jyothi demonstrates while singing] “Open, shut them; Open, shut them; Open, shut them; Put them in your lap, lap, lap!” The moms are doing the motions for the babies and the babies are getting the stretches.
Babies are such natural yogis. They do the cobra pose on their own. It is very exciting when they start pushing up and lifting up their head. Downward dog is a natural for children. They like to crawl underneath their mothers as they are doing their Yoga. You can do the pigeon pose with your baby right in front of you while you’re singing a little song to him or her.
I look at it more as a way of bonding with your child, so that you can still get your Yoga practice. Because when you are a new mother, you may have been used to rolling out your mat every day at a certain time. You don’t get to do that any more. This gives you a chance to still do your Yoga while being with your baby…
Read the rest of this article in the Spring 2004 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine.