There are many types of yoga. Not only are there different styles, there are different flavours. You can find classes that pair your favourite tastes with yoga (think chocolate yoga, yoga in the vineyard), and you can find classes geared towards specific groups (think yoga for runners or bro-yoga). Many classes test the boundaries of a traditional yoga practice, but there is one style that has come up in the news again lately that, in my opinion, should not have any association with yoga whatsoever. Yet it’s been coined, “baby yoga,” by the woman who originally made headlines with her bizarre baby-movement rituals.
You may have seen the video when it first sparked outrage a couple of years ago. It is truly disturbing. It has recently resurfaced because there is a new wave of petitions against her version of “baby yoga,” especially since she is training others to teach this practice.
When I hear the term “baby yoga,” my thoughts naturally turn to my own yoga teacher training over the past 15 years, and the many mom and baby classes I have taught in that time. I think of a series of gentle stretches that can help a baby with digestion (aptly named the gas series), and movements that connect the mom and baby in a gentle physical way. I cannot imagine how swinging an infant around by her wrists or ankles, or throwing him vigorously into the air so much so that he cries or vomits, is considered a form of yoga in any way, shape or form.
Family doctor Kim Foster of YMC's Wicked Health blog agrees. She says “The 'baby yoga' depicted in this video not only has nothing to do with yoga, it is dangerous, physically abusive, and potentially fatal. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to swing or manipulate a baby or child in this way."
With regards to the many other yoga styles and subsets out there, I am nonplussed. You want to do yoga while heli-skiing? Knock yourself out. You want to do partner yoga in the nude, while applying body paint? Go crazy. But all of these types of yoga involve adults making their own informed decisions about their physical safety. When you take an innocent baby, perform a series of potentially hazardous movements on them, and then call it yoga? That’s where I draw the line. No way. Petition signed.
My granny had the best posture. She carried herself with grace and ease—even into her eighties—so when people comment on my good posture, I give Granny a mental thumbs up. In part, my good posture comes from being a yoga and Pilates teacher and constantly being aware of my body, but I have also discovered a few tricks for better posture that don’t involve core exercises.
So, if you’re desk-bound most days and need a little help to stay upright and smiling, try these easy tips:
Pull The String
Imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head that is being pulled gently upwards. As the string draws upwards, visualize your neck and spine lengthening. Then mentally envision attaching the string to the ceiling so that your head and torso are supported in an upright position with the string. This simple imaginary act allows us to feel taller and reinforces a sense of good posture in our bodies.
Bring your awareness to your breath, and be conscious of taking deep inhalations and exhalations. When we slouch we inhibit our breath capacity, but when we breathe deeply the body responds by creating space for the intake of air. We tend to sit up straighter as a natural result of making room for our breaths.
Plant Your Feet
Sit at the forward edge of your chair (your back should not touch the back of the chair). Make sure your feet are firmly planted hip-distance apart on the floor and that your weight is evenly distributed between your two legs and your sitting bones. Ideally, you want to create a 90-degree angle between your thighs and calves. (Read: do not sit with one leg crossed over the other!) When we create a strong and balanced foundation for the body, we are less likely to slump forward towards the desk or sink back into the chair.
Walk It Out
Break up the day at your desk by getting up to walk for a couple of minutes every hour. If we are in a fixed seated position for long periods of time, our hip and back muscles can get tight. Often the body responds to this by slouching or shifting our weight in an unbalanced way. By changing position and getting up to walk around, we can remind ourselves of the length and space in our bodies from head to toe. When we sit down again, we are more likely to maintain the upright stance we naturally assume while walking.
If you spend a lot of time sitting, you might like to read about how you don’t have to sit still to meditate. Or if you are looking to begin your daily routine in a positive way, here are three yoga tips to start your day off right.