As a yoga practitioner and instructor, I see some pretty wild things. Once while I was in India studying yoga, I witnessed a Westerner who consumed nothing but beets. Beets and yoga were his life and, yes, he did have a reddish hue to him.
It’s one thing to impart some extreme behavior onto yourself, but it’s a whole other issue to do it to someone else. So when I saw this baby yoga video of a yoga instructor who tosses, turns, and twists a two-week old baby in a series of yoga poses, I actually had to turn away.
According to CBS.com, the woman is Lena Fokina, a 50-year-old Russian who lives in Egypt teaching yoga, free-diving and dynamic gymnastics. The video was actually shot about two years ago and the child in the segment is still intact, says CBS News.
Fokina claims that introducing yoga to an infant promotes the child’s mobility, freedom and independence. No studies have been done to support or refute this claim, but like most yoga devotees will tell you, yoga’s benefits can be experienced by anyone, regardless of how old or young they may be.
I’m not arguing with Fokina’s assertions. In fact, the scores of mommy and baby yoga classes popping up all over the country is just one example of yoga’s growing appeal. Ever since my daughter was a few weeks old, my husband and I have gently and safely put her in yoga postures that are appropriate to her physical strength, balance and coordination. As parents, or doting aunts, uncles and cousins, there is no denying the fun that can be felt from playing with a baby. From bouncing with them on your knee to lifting them way up in the air, playing with a baby is one of life’s purest joys. But anyone who has done this, also knows just how fragile and weak an infant is.
What upset me most about this baby yoga video was Fokina’s gross underestimation of the strength of the infant’s back and shoulder muscles. You can actually see the young bones of the thoracic spine protrude each time this child is forced to support its own upper body weight. The spinning and twisting was so jarring to the eye, that I had to triple-check to make sure that the baby in the video was in fact real, and not just a doll that had an uncanny human resemblance. To be honest, I was upset that the video came from a reputable news source, like CBS, and that the writer for the article did his due diligence to ensure the authenticity of the video.
Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts, ideas and behaviors when it comes to parenting. And it’s pretty safe to say that parents and adults would not put their children or someone else’s children in an unsafe situation. But there is a line, albeit a fine one, and in my opinion, Ms. Fokina crosses it.
January 26th, 2011