The Baby Way

When someone asks me what I do for a living now, I get to give the best response ever, the one I always dreamed of: I get to tell people that I get paid to have fun, to follow my bliss, that my job is to play. Finding and feeling joy is what Living Lumin is all about. This is true regardless of our clients’ age, but it’s especially evident in our experiences with the young people we are immersed with daily—in our own children at home and with those we serve in the community. 

One of our favorite community partners is the 128-year-old Crittenton Center, a 501(c)3 located in Sioux City devoted to strengthening children and families. Through the Crittenton Center, we get the opportunity to engage with some of the most underserved and underrepresented youth in our community. What an honor it is to share space with some of the most vulnerable and at-risk and to be a part of their journey to wholeness and wellness. One of its most impactful programs we get the joy to operate is the West High School Infant Center, serving children ages 0-23 months.  

Some of the real fun in being with these kiddos is remembering what it was like when our kids were this age. Now dealing with the frenzy of sports practices, games, concerts, and recitals, it’s nice to recall a time when things moved at a little slower pace—when games of peek-a-boo and bubble-blowing could stretch on for what seemed like hours. When there was always time for just one more book. So, of course, we are there for the babies, but in reality, these babies are here for us, too. It’s a beautiful, emotional rehearsal, this dance we do each week at West High: we move, we play, and we laugh (a lot), and in doing so, we learn. All of us. Providers learn strategies that build confidence in handling and caring for the babies; they develop awareness and expertise in helping to treat the more typical infant pathologies; and they practice breathing exercises and relaxation techniques for self-regulation that combat compassion fatigue. vicarious traumatization, and personal and professional burnout. And the babies and infants feel the inside and out biopsychosocial benefits too. 


Internal HomeostasisGross & Fine Motor DevelopmentSocial-Emotional Co-Regulation
Promotes longer and deeper sleep by regulating the breathing Improves muscle development and tonePromotes bonding, trust, and social interaction
Increases the levels of oxygen in the bloodstream and improves blood flowMaintains flexibility in the spine and jointsStimulates oxytocin release
Aids respiration and digestion and assists in detoxification and circulation around the lymph systemDevelops spatial awareness and physical balanceFacilitates physical, mental, and emotional healing
Stimulates the brain, and nervous systemAids the growth of postural reflexesStrengthens ability to understand non-verbal cues

In Meghan’s role as a physical therapist, she’s worked with many young infants with torticollis, plagiocephaly and a variety of other conditions over the years. Torticollis is a common condition in infants where there is tightness along one side of the neck, favoring a rotation of the neck to the opposite side. This condition can result in plagiocephaly, where the side that rests on the floor most flattens due to prolonged time spent on the back and turned toward that preferred side. 

Medical professionals all agree that to promote healthy spine and skull development, babies need tummy time. So, Meghan works to explain to the staff how these kiddos need to be fed from their non-favored side and how they can position cribs, seating devices, toys, mirrors or play items to promote rotation of the neck towards the opposite of the favored rotation. These kiddos are just used to looking one direction, which creates muscle imbalance throughout the neck and the flat spot off the back side of head. 

Time and again, what we always go back to when guiding yoga sessions for infants and toddlers goes way back to Meghan’s very first official yoga training, Yoga for the Special Child, with Sonia Sumar. This was our guide when we began doing yoga with our daughter, Sawyer, when she was just three weeks old. What shocked us back then, and what continues to amaze us to this day, is just how much the potential for positivity, love, light, balance, strength, courage, and wisdom comes each time we connect to another, when we listen and observe each other’s needs, and assist one another in meeting them. 

Everyone wins when we’re together. In most of our sessions, we corral the kids into a circle with several providers, and guide us all through a practice of connecting, breathing, stretching arms and legs, laughing, having fun, and then tummy time and quiet time. That’s the method to what may look like a lot of madness. 

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is to still experience life as a child—the beginner’s mind—fresh, non-proportionate, all-encompassing, first-time for everything life. There’s a reason Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Being with these babies leaves no doubt—we are made from love, with love, for love, to love. There can be no other explanation. This is how we’re going to save the world, my friends: with love—one baby, one breath at a time. What fun!


Supine Knee Bends (Single Knee to Chest)Supine Spinal Twist (Lower Trunk Rotation)Cobra(Tummy Time)
Increases elasticity in knees and hips and relieves tension in low backTones the entire spinal column for a healthy and mobile spineElongates the body’s anterior muscles and releases tension from the low back
Strengthens tendons, nerves and musculature of legsStretches spinal musculature and tendons, stimulates nerves throughout the bodyExpands the ribcage, tones heart, lungs, and cranial nerves
Stimulates internal organs of the abdomenMassages and tones internal organs and glands including the liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and adrenalsTones cranial nerves, strengthens upper back and neck muscles
Helps to relieve gas, colic, and constipationRelieves muscular tension in the back, waist, and hipsHelps to relieve constipation and gas

By Ryan Allen & Meghan Nelson

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