Yoga Lessons From Babies

What can we learn from babies? Apparently a lot, especially in movement education. The Breathing Project’s co-director Amy Matthews has created a safe and friendly environment for the youngest among us, along with their caregivers, to explore the time of life when reaching out to explore is the most natural thing in world.

Every Friday in her Babies! class, Amy is on her stomach, down on the mat (in this case, a colorful interlocking play mat) interacting one-on-one with New York City’s littlest yogis. Holding and massaging tiny fists and feet, Amy (a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator through the School for Body-Mind Centering) and her assistants immerse themselves with these new world explorers, observing their movement patterns and sharing notes with supportive parents hovering close by.

I recently sat on the sidelines to see what these innovative sessions are all about. Moms and dads, singly or together, shared the mat with their little ones, setting them free to interact with their surroundings--early learning toys, activity tables, stuffed animals--and each other.

At first I was transfixed; could I ever get past the cuteness factor? Noticing the age range--newborn through toddler--I wondered what would happen in the next hour. Then I settled back to take in the youngest generation doing what they do best: navigating their world, fueled by curiosity and desire, and reaching outward.

One thirteen month-old girl occupied a corner of the mat in a perfect hero’s pose, her blue eyes big and wide as she took in the activity all around her. Then she rose and pointed toward her sippy cup several feet away, while, I kid you not, in a Warrior 2 stance. After some refreshment, she began to make the rounds on the mat.

Babies being babies, there was a lot of wanting: stuff to put in mouths, places to go, people to see. The mat was filled with smiles and laughter, and constant movement.