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Photo by: Brittni Larson - Shari Aronin and her 18-month-old daughter, Lilah Aronin, practice yoga at Mindful Body of Maitland on Dec. 9.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 9 years ago

Go gaga for yoga

Babies learn yoga
by: Brittni Larson

Lilah Aronin giggles as she bends into downward-facing dog, her little body fumbling with the tricky movement. She claps enthusiastically when she pops up from the pose, proud of her yoga success. Her mom does, too.

Everyone’s doing yoga now, even babies. And not a mommy yoga class with babies present — the little ones are doing their own down dogs and sun salutations.

Shari Aronin has been bringing 18-month-old Lilah to Tammy Bishop’s classes for about a year now, and loves that starting yoga this early will kick her daughter off to a lifetime of wellbeing.

“It’s establishing lifelong healthy habits,” the Orlando resident said.

Tiny yoga

While there are a couple of baby- and child-focused yoga classes in the area, Bishop is the only instructor who teaches the specialized “Itsy Bitsy Yoga” program pioneered by Helen Garabedian, an infant developmental movement educator.

Bishop teaches classes at Mindful Body of Maitland and the Maitland Jewish Community Center for children from almost crawling to 4 years old.

“I love the opportunity to interact with my kids in a playful, yet structured environment,” said Erika Grabish, who’s been bringing her two daughters for over a year.

Bishop said yoga can be great to create body awareness, teach following directions, soothe fussy babies, help with colic and digestion and promote bonding between parent and child. Both Aronin and Grabish said that yoga had helped their babies in those ways.

“It’s a good way to have the baby be comfortable in their own body — they’ll cry less, explore more and try new things,” Bishop said. “If you have a calm, confident, well-developed child, you’re going to be happy.”

Lead by moods

And explore Lilah did, as Bishop showed her poses, she’d follow along, stretching her arms into a half-moon, and clapped proudly after she touched her toes to her nose.

“She gets a sense of self accomplishment,” Aronin said.

And parents shouldn’t be intimidated to bring their child, Bishop said. Yoga is “gently incorporated.” Classes aren’t for adults; they’re led by the moods of the children. If the kids are standing, they’ll do standing activities and poses. If they’re sitting that’s what they’ll do.

“It’s active and fun, there’s a lot of joy in the activity,” said Grabish, who drives from Apopka for the classes.

Physical benefits

Bishop said her experience as a licensed occupational therapist makes her a great children’s yoga teacher because she has an understanding of child development, and knows what poses are good to help with the physical skills and milestones a child should be achieving.

In 2007, she was inspired by a 4-year-old she was giving therapy to who had gravitational insecurity, meaning he was afraid of movement and the feeling of his feet leaving the ground. But one thing he loved to do was yoga.

“This is a kid who doesn’t like to move,” she said. “It gave me chills.”

Grabish said yoga has helped her daughter, who had torticollis, a condition that limited her range of motion. Her physical therapist said that practicing yoga helped with her treatment.

Social benefits

The moms said they love the social aspect for the children and themselves, too. Aronin said it’s a comfortable, relaxing place to be with her daughter and network with other moms. Advice and ideas are exchanged, and the time with other like-minded moms is a fun break in their day.

They also love being with Bishop, who Aronin calls a “baby magnet”.

“Tammy is full of joy, and her energy is just bright and fun, and we all look forward to spending time with her,” Grabish said.


Tammy Bishop teaches Itsy Bitsy Yoga at Mindful Body of Maitland for children ages 2 to 4 on Tuesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. for children almost crawling to 2 years old. Register by calling her at 407-542-4681 or e-mail

[email protected].

She also teaches at the Jewish Community Center in Maitland on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. for babies 4 weeks to almost crawling, and from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. for children almost crawling to 2 years old. To register through the Center, call 407-645-0923.

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