Mother As First Guru ( By Swami Gurupremananda Saraswati
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   Babies who sleep alone and in stationary cots, have been shown to have an increased tendency to fitful breathing, rather than the constant rhythm which adults demonstrate. It was therefore postulated that some SIDS cases may occur when the baby simply forgets to breathe, due to the distance from their maternal "clock".
   From a yogic point of view, since the sense of touch is the action for Anahata Chakra, and this chakra is responsible for cardio-respiratory function, such a hypothesis is very feasible.
   I have mentioned previously, the issue of initial handling following the baby's birth. Beyond that, it is still important how often, in what way, by whom, and what for, a baby is touched.
   As well as the usual touching events of feeding, nappy changing and daily bathing, parents can beneficially stimulate the baby's skin, muscles and nervous system with massage. For a new born infant this does not need to exceed 5 minutes a day and can be incorporated at the end of bath washing or can be a separate time at the other end of the day. This activity works on many levels. It helps develop the loving bond between the mother and baby, it is a time when a mother can examine her baby for any odd looking marks, it will give the baby much sensual pleasure and help establish self assurance in the mother. More than just letting the baby "have a bit of a kick", massage and simple guided movements will help to straighten out those curly arms and legs from their 9 months of being folded up. Massage of the chest, the tummy, the spine and the limbs will help with good blood circulation, good lung development, prevent constipation, just as it does for adults.
    Along with a baby receiving your touch all over his body, what sort of things will he first begin to hold in his hands? He will first touch things like his blankets, your breast when feeding, clench your little finger in his tiny hand, grab your clothing when feeding (and long hair - ouch!). He will feel water when you bathe him. These things are all warm and soft. As he grows he will reach out for anything he sees, some of which will feel comfortable to his touch and some of which will surprise him. Think about the sorts of things he is given to hold early in life so that he learns to feel a wide range of sensations more than just plastic toys and metal spoons.
   Of course, anything which can be handled will also be taste tested! This is a baby's way of working out the connection between sight, feel, smell and taste. Because their primary need is food, and the first thing which goes in their mouth is the nipple, perhaps they assume that anything they are given must be edible. Therefore it is better to only let them have


things which you would want them to put in their mouth rather than constant admonition or removal of things from them because they instinctively keep chewing on them.
   Adults sometimes seem surprised by the idea that babies and children are sensual beings, and that they derive pleasure from many of the same things we do. The child who adopts a favourite blanket is a case in point. I have seen babies intently and addictively fondling the satin trim on a blanket, rubbing it against their face and body with greatest of pleasure! Just as with toys and food, children need to be exposed to a range of tactile sensations. Activities such as water play, mud play, sand play, play dough, fabric play (behind curtains, with scarfs, under sheets), soft stroking, hair brushing, rough and tumble games, touching animals, feeling their food, are all developing their mind / body connections.

Sense of Sound and Speech
   Consider the range of sounds a baby has been listening to during its gestation in the womb. The perpetual sound of the mother's heartbeat, the odd gurgling noises from your digestive system and the vibration of your own voice transferred internally from the vocal cords. These sounds were always with him. More distant and infrequent sounds would all have been softly muffled by the fluid bath and fleshy cabin in which he nested. Then suddenly, one day, all the noises of the outside world hit. The ear muffs were off!
   A baby's sense of hearing must be extremely sensitive in the first few months. Although he may not immediately react to every noise in a way we perceive, he will surely be hearing it and trying to make sense of it. It is therefore best if he is exposed only to those sounds which he needs and which will not shock him in any way. Trips in the car through the noise of city life, nearby vacuum cleaning, loud television shows, explosive noises, sudden changes in music volume will all unsettle his composure and confuse his evolving interpretation of the world. The constant drone of modern noise can only serve to dull his sensitivity to the subtleties of natural sounds and may cause the situation many people have of not being able to handle or enjoy the state of total silence.
   It is also important that the baby learns to clearly interpret any sounds he does hear. To properly understand any new sound, a person needs to see and experience closely the thing which makes that sound. Strange and unseen noises can induce irrational fears in someone of any age. Certain frequencies

   
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The complete ‘Mother As First Guru’ Set also contains Book 2 + 2 audio cds. Book 2 relating to comprehensive Yoga Practices as well as the Audio Instructional practices (2 cd set) are only available with your purchase and is NOT available on the Reading Room.

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