Baby won’t fall asleep? Toddler fighting naps? Try this!
By Nicholl Summers, Nicholl Summers Family Yoga
We’ve all been there; some of us more than others, but all of us at least once….so far. Maybe your baby skipped a nap. Maybe your toddler is over stimulated. Maybe baby is teething, or not feeling well. Whatever the reason, your little one is tired…so SO tired, but for some reason just will not fall asleep. Most moms have their favorite trick of the trade to get baby to sleep, but just in case you haven’t found yours yet, I would love to take this opportunity to share mine.
My favorite sleepy time trick isn’t really a trick at all, and it is nothing new either. It is actually an ancient yogic breathing technique called Ujjayi. This slow, controlled and audible breath is calming for mommy and soothing to baby. Just like anything in yoga, it takes a little practice, but with these easy steps, you can learn to use this breath to lull your little one off to sleep.
- Hold your open palm in front of your face. Imagine that it is a mirror or window. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth as if you were trying to fog up the glass in front of you. Notice the way the breath feels exiting your throat. You will use the same muscles to execute the Ujjayi breath. Try this several times, inhaling through your nose, exhaling through your open mouth. Listen to sound of the exhale.
- Once you have mastered this breathing sequence with your mouth open, you are ready to move on to the next step! Inhale deeply through your nose, and this time when you exhale, close your mouth half way through your exhale. Notice how your breath sounds before and after you allow your mouth to close. This is effectively Ujjayi breathing.
- Once you have practiced allowing the breath to resonate in your throat with the mouth closed, you can move on to practicing inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Draw your attention to the muscles in the back of the throat when you exhale, activating them to slow the release of your breath. This is what allows your baby to hear your breath work as if you were still performing this breath with your mouth open.
- Check out this video from Nicholl Summers Family Yoga to see how Ujjayi breathing should sound.
Once you have mastered this breathing technique, you can put it into practice with your little one. Simply hold your baby in a comfortable position that allows you to move. A rocking chair, glider, yoga ball, or even standing may be options to explore. My favorite is to put baby in a baby carrier or ring sling with his head against my chest. As you practice your Ujjayi breath, allow your body to rock, sway or bounce gently. Then, pat your baby’s back to the rhythm of a heartbeat. The combined motion with the sound of the Ujjayi breath and vibration of the heartbeat remind baby of being in the womb. This gives them a familiar sense of calm and relaxation, allowing them to drift off to sleep.
Practice this breathing technique and others at home or with other caregivers in a baby yoga class. This is only one way you can incorporate yoga into your home life. Yoga is an amazing tool that can be used to help bond with baby from birth.