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Rebecca Julius and her seven-month-old daughter Hannah during a during a caregiver/baby class on July 29, 2018 at Wellness In Motion. (Lauren Lee/Centre Daily Times/TNS)

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. — For Rebecca Julius, staying active and exploring the outdoors has always been a huge part of her life.

Becoming a mom didn’t stop that.

Although 7-month-old Hannah is too little to ride a bike just yet, Julius has found another way to stay active while involving her baby — taking mom and baby yoga classes.

“She loves coming here,” Julius said at a recent class at Wellness in Motion taught by Chrissy Fritton. “She’s always happy and babbling and smiling and watching the babies and smiling at Chrissy the whole time, so it’s fun to see her happy.”

Like Julius, more mothers around Centre County are bringing their babies to yoga classes, and there’s more places to take them. Local yoga studios such as Wellness in Motion and TriYoga of Central Pennsylvania are increasingly offering classes for parents and babies. Schlow Centre Region Library recently announced it will offer free classes for caregivers and their children.

Fritton, who recently started teaching baby yoga, thinks the interest in the community is relatively new.

“It’s a great place for moms, dads or caregivers and the baby to connect,” Fritton said. “And it’s a safe space where it’s OK if the baby cries, it’s OK if you need to change or feed the baby. And it’s a great bonding experience for them to explore movements with their body together.”

Located in State College, Wellness in Motion offers caregiver and baby yoga classes for newborn to pre-crawling babies. The classes usually range at an intimate size of three to four moms and their babies.

“In today’s society, people are just kind of so hurried and rushed and it’s hard to just take time to slow down,” Fritton said, “and baby yoga really gives you a chance to connect with your child without the distractions of phones or screens.”

Each class starts with warmup activities for both the mom and baby to get comfortable in the space. Then, Mom and baby do a variety of movements with the arm, legs and whole body. Fritton said she tries to keep her classes light and interactive for the baby with games and songs.

Beyond simple yoga movements and poses, Fritton said the baby can leave the class with lasting benefits.

A movement called the “corkscrew” help the babies digestion, by moving the babies legs in a circular motion.

The “chair pose” helps with the babies flexibility by the child getting used to using their legs.

“It’s a great way to set up future learning, learning body awareness, being able to see other babies to see the socialization aspect — they’re working on their fine motors skills and gross movements,” Fritton said. “For the parents, it’s also a great way to connect with other parents through a judgment free zone because there is no competition in yoga.”

Cathy Colsz brought her 5-month-old son Zachary to Fritton’s yoga class to help continue her love of doing yoga.

“Before I had children, I took yoga pretty regularly, I just felt like it would be fun to try with the baby,” Colsz said. “I believe he and I both enjoyed it very much, it was interesting to see how much he’s soaking it all in and how alert he was.”

At TriYoga Central Pennsylvania, Jill Buchanan instructs yoga classes for caregivers and babies. According to Buchanan, the class helps new moms become “more in tune with herself and returning to this body without a pregnancy and coming to the experience of reconnecting and strengthening the body gently.”

“The breath is so essential to a yoga practice,” Buchanan said. “So we do a lot of pranayama with is a lot of breath practices to help still and calm the mind.”

According to Buchanan, one of the moms in her classes said taking her baby to the yoga class made a big difference while she “reconnected with her core muscles that had been changed through the physical process of pregnancy labor and birth.”

“There was a part of her that grieves for her pre-pregnant body, but with her baby there, she could accept that grief but recognize the gain — which was this little incredible being,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan believes schools are becoming more interested in incorporating more yoga classes for their young students.

“There’s an interest for sure in children, methods of calming the mind, instilling the body, and being able to step back and watch your emotions as opposed to getting caught up in them. And that’s what yoga is,” Buchanan said.

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