Why Swimming can do more than save our lives

 Why Swimming can do more than save lives.

As a swimming instructor, I very much believe that everyone should learn to swim, if only because it might save your life, or someone else’s, one day. There are other reasons that I am a fan of swimming too. In my experience, swimming has a whole host of physical, emotional and social benefits. Here are just a few:

 

The physical benefits of swimming

It’s good for your muscles

Because water is 12 times as dense as air, our bodies have to work harder to move through the water, although swimming is the only exercise where there is no stress on the skeletal system and you’re not restricted by the laws of gravity in the same way as you are on land.

As you have to work against the resistance of the water, swimming is more effective for muscle toning than any on-land cardio exercise. In fact, swimming is similar to using a light weight on a resistance machine at the gym but it actually gives more controlled, even resistance to a wider range of muscles.

muscle-groups1

 

 It’s good for your breathing

In order to swim properly, you also have to regulate your breathing. Amazingly, the moisture in the air at a swimming pool or in the ocean makes it easier to breath than when the atmosphere is very dry. Swimming has been shown to increase lung capacity.

In 2009, a study in Respirology showed that a group of children on asthma went through a six-week swimming programme to explore the benefits of swimming for this critical illness. The study found the children experienced significant improvements in all the clinical variables, including symptoms, hospitalisations, A& E visits, and time off school. Other benefits included a reduction in asthma severity, mouth-breathing, snoring and chest deformity, and an improvement in self-confidence. These benefits were still evident up to 12 months after the six-week programme.

It’s good for your heart

Swimming can improve the blood flow around your body, strengthening, enlarging and making the heart become more efficient. The American Heart Association has found that just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day – swimming is ideal – can reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30 to 40%. It can also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.

It is also believed that swimming helps our arteries to expand and contract, keeping them fit and healthy, and that it can help boost our HDL levels – i.e. the ‘good’ cholesterol we need to stay well.

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It’s good for your flexibility

Swimming is an excellent exercise to boost your flexibility as it uses a lot of muscles at the same time and requires a range of coordinated movements that are well supported by the water.

Each stroke has different benefits for your muscles but front crawl, in particular, uses arm and leg muscles not used by other forms of exercise. The act of stretching forward in the water can actually lengthen and stretch your muscles, improving your overall posture and suppleness.

 

It’s good for your bones

The heat from the pool can loosen your joints and muscles, and help prevent injury; in fact, research would suggest that swimming can be hugely beneficial for people with arthritis and various joint problems.

A 2003 study also showed swimming to improve bone density and strength in post-menopausal women.

It’s good for your weight

Swimming is one of the best calorie burners around. Although the amount of calories you burn when swimming will depend on your unique physiology and the intensity of your workout, it’s generally agreed that for every 10 minutes of swimming:

  • Breaststroke burns 60 calories
  • Backstroke burns 80 calories
  • Front crawl burns 100 calories
  • Butterfly burns an incredible 150 calories

 

It’s good for your life expectancy

Research by the University of South Carolina followed 40,457 men between the ages of 20 and 90 for more than four decades and found that the swimmers, regardless of their age, were 50% less likely to die during the study than walkers, runners or people who were inactive. They surmised from their research that women would experience the same benefits.

Swimming regularly can also reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 Diabetes.

 

The mental benefits of swimming

It’s good for your peace of mind soap-bubbles on nature background

“The experienced swimmer, when in the water, may be classed among the happiest of mortals in the happiest of moods, and in the most complete enjoyment of the happiest of exercises.”

So William Wilson wrote in his book entitled, The Swimming Instructor, in 1883.

Wilson was right – it would appear that swimming creates the same release of endorphins and positive feelings, known as ‘relaxation responses’, as you can expect from practising yoga. Stretching and contracting your muscles as you swim through the water can heighten this. As a result, swimming is an excellent activity to relax your mind and even to put you into a meditative state where you can unwind and focus on being present in the moment.

 

It’s good for anxiety and depression

Swimming is believed to promote ‘hippocampal neurogenesis’, which is the growth of new brain cells in the area of the brain that atrophies under chronic stress. Animal studies have shown the exercise that causes this process can be more effective for treating anxiety and depression than drugs like Prozac.

 

It’s good for your patience and persistence

Something we see when children learn to swim is that the process of attending classes over several weeks, months or even years shows the benefits of sticking with an activity until you become proficient. Being awarded certificates at different stages in their tuition shows children that their hard work is paying off and that they are making progress. This teaches an important lesson that with patience and persistence anything is possible.

 

The social benefits of swimming

It’s fun

One of the benefits of swimming that we promote, particularly in our baby and toddler classes, is having fun together. This is something that can continue as your child grows up and you go swimming as a family, on holiday, or with a friend.

baby_and_toddler_swimming_lesson_5

Swimming can be a hugely sociable form of exercise where you chat, splash about, float, and generally enjoy some carefree time with your friends or family.

 

It’s good for bonding

Whether you come along to a swimming exercise class as an adult and find yourself chatting to other people in the pool, or you’re looking for an activity to do with your child, swimming is incredibly good for creating bonds and a sense of fellowship.

My lovely girls!

My lovely girls!

Have we missed anything out? What do you love about swimming? What do you see as the benefits? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below.

 

Singing while you swim – nursery rhymes for water confidence

These days, nursery rhymes are a big part of baby and toddler swimming lessons. There are lots of reasons for this.

Music is a wonderful  tool for helping children overcome their fears. Your little one is probably already familiar with many popular nursery rhymes and may find them comforting. Even young babies tend to find the repetitive words and melodies of nursery rhymes soothing (especially as they get to listen to your much loved voice, even if you can’t sing a note in tune!). As such, nursery rhymes tend to be reassuring, familiar and provide a welcome distraction for little ones who have some anxiety about going in the water.

Some swimming classes even use the beat and rhythm of nursery rhymes to help young children understand how to count their strokes and breathe while swimming.

In our experience, singing also promotes lots of eye contact and smiles, which is great for relaxing mums and dads in the water too. If you are calm and confident, your little one will be more likely to take their cue from you and feel the same.

Singing in the water doesn’t have to be reserved for swimming lessons. If you take your baby or toddler to the pool at other times – perhaps for a family fun session with an older child – why not sing some nursery rhymes to help build your little one’s water confidence?

Not sure what to sing? We’ve got some suggestions for you (plus some tips about what actions to try):

Entering the pool

For little ones who are cautious about entering the pool, try sitting on the steps or poolside and dipping their toes in the water:

 There’s a worm at the bottom of the garden

There’s a worm at the bottom of the garden (Action: Hold your little one on the side of the pool facing you)

And his name is Wiggly Woo ingworth 04 cr

There’s a worm at the bottom of the garden

And all that he can do

Is wiggle all day and wiggle all night

The neighbours say it’s a terrible fright.

There’s a worm at the bottom of the garden

And his name is Wiggly Woo (Action: Swivel your little one so they turn and enter the pool safely with you holding them initially, the aim is always to enable the child to do as much for themselves as possible).

Floating

These songs help encourage children to lie back and relax so that they can float with you supporting them. This helps them to get used to having the water lines near their ears and looking up at the ceiling while they’re on their back:

everything 039

 Rock-a-bye baby (with boats not trees!)

Rock-a-bye baby in your small boat (Action: Cradle your baby in your arms and glide them gently through the water from side to side )

When the wind blows, your small boat will rock

When the wind falls, your small boat will float

Safely to shore, baby and all

 

Water sprinkling

Young children are often worried about getting their face wet when they are in the bath or swimming pool. Gentle songs and games where you sprinkle water can help with this anxiety. If your child is reluctant, you could always get them to sprinkle you instead so that they can see that you’re fine and still having fun:

 London’s burning

London’s burning, London’s burning.

Fetch the engines, fetch the engines.

Fire, fire! Fire, fire!

Pour on water, pour on water (Action: Pour or sprinkle water over your child’s head)

London’s burning.

 

I’m a little teapot  feb24 053

I’m a little teapot,

Short and stout.

Here’s my handle,

Here’s my spout.

When I get all steamed up

Hear me shout

Tip me up and pour me out! (Action: Pour or sprinkle water over your child’s head)

 

Moving through the water

There are some brilliant nursery rhymes to help get your baby or toddler used to the sensation of moving through the water:

 Five little ducks

Five little ducks went swimming one day,

Over the hill and far away

Mother Duck said, ‘Quack, quack, quack, quack’

And only four little ducks came back (Action: Hold your child on their tummy to your side with their face out of the water and walk across the pool, then walk back again – repeat with verses four, three, two and one)

 Zoom, zoom, zoom

Toddler_swimming_with_dad_1

Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon (Action: Stand against the side of the pool and get your little one to lay forward with their head above the water and their feet against the pool wall)

Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going very soon

Five, four, three, two, one – blast off! (Action: Push and glide away from the pool wall, – this can also be lots of fun with the aid a woggle – the woggle is placed around both you and your child, your child in facing forwards in front of you and your arms latched over the woggle – dads tend to like this one)

 Bouncing and submersion

If you feel confident with submerging your child briefly under the water, then you’ll love these songs (you might want to try submersion in an organised baby swimming class the first time). Alternatively, these are good songs for getting toddlers to put their face in the water:

Ring-a-ring-a-rosesjude2

Ring-a-ring-a-roses

A pocketful of poses

Atishoo

Atishoo

We all fall down (Action: Submerge for your little one or get them to dunk their head under the water)

Fishes in the water (Action: After your child has lifted their head out of the water, carry on singing)

Fishes in the sea

We all jump up with a 1, 2, 3! (Action: Lift them out of the water and back down again for a lovely splash!)

 The Grand Old Duke of York

The Grand Old Duke of York

He had ten thousand men.

He marched them up to the top of the hill (Action: Lift your baby up out of the water)

And he marched them down again (Action: Lower baby back into the water)

And when they were up, they were up (Action: Lift again)

And when they were down, they were down (Action: Lower again)

And when they were only half way up,

They were neither up (Action: Lift baby) nor down (Action: Lower baby)

He marched them to the left (Action: Move baby through the water to the left)

He marched them to the right (Action: Move baby through the water to the right)

He marched them all round and round (Action: Turn in a circle with your little one)

He marched them out of sight (Action: Submerge)

Blowing bubbles

Children love blowing bubbles. Encourage them to put their mouth below the water line and breathe out to make lots of bubbles on the surface of the water:

 Puffer trains  feb24 059

Down at the station, early in the morning

See the little puffer trains all in a row

See the engine driver start up the engine

Puff, puff, peep, peep and off we go! (Action: Both blow bubbles in the water and them move across the pool)

Jumping In 

I’m a little Penguin

I’m a little penguin – black and white       splishsplash

Short and fluffy – what a sight

I can’t fly – but I love to swim

So I waddle to the edge and jump right in (action – depending on how confident your child is, they either sit or stand on the pool edge – if sitting you assist them into the water by leaning them into the pool – if standing , ensure toes are on the edge of the pool and you assist them into the water)

Remember to repeat a nursery rhyme and the actions in the water several times in succession. This will help your child learn the words and also to understand what comes next. The more familiar they become with being splashed or blowing bubbles in the water, the more you will see their water confidence bloom.

If you feel self-conscious about singing to your baby in the pool, just remember that they will love this chance to bond with you and have lots of fun. You can always come along to an organised baby swimming lesson so that you’re not the only adult singing as you swim!

What nursery rhymes does your little one love? Do you sing when you’re in the water together? Do nursery rhymes make bath time easier? Which nursery rhymes does your child love? We’d love to hear from you in the Comments section below or over on our Funky Fish Swim School Facebook page.

 

Introducing your baby to water (swimming classes)

Introducing your baby to water    birthlight

 

Here at Funky Fish Swim School, we offer swimming lessons for little ones from six weeks onwards. Parent and baby swimming sessions are great for bonding, water confidence and having fun. If this will be the first time you’ve taken your little one swimming, you might be a bit nervous about what to expect. To help you feel as confident and positive as possible, we’ve put together some of our best hints and tips for introducing your baby to water:

       1. Start them young

We believe that the sooner children are introduced to the water, the better. Once you and your baby have had your six-week check, you are free to join a baby swim class. There’s no need to wait until your little one has had their vaccinations.  everything 039

Build upon your child’s confidence, make bath times at home as fun as possible. You could even have a regular bath with your baby to get them used to you both being in the water together.  This is also a great bonding exercise for you and your little one.  You can try lying as flat as you can in the water and let you little one rest on their back on top of you, just relaxing in the water.  Helps to promote relaxation and freedom of movement in water     

2.Plan ahead.

Bringing a baby to the swimming pool (especially getting both of you changed) can feel like an experience better suited to someone with four pairs of hands, possibly an octopus!

Most swimming pools try to make things as easy for you as possible, providing playpens, changing tables or seats for your little one to sit in while you get changed. It’s worth checking with the pool in question before you arrive. Many parents opt to bring their own travel changing mat to guarantee their baby has somewhere dry to lie in the changing room.

You might want to bring your little ones car seat into the changing room so that your baby can sit in that while you’re getting ready.

Think about changing into your swimming costume before you leave home. It will make getting changed much quicker and let you concentrate on getting your little one ready.

Some parents like to bring a spare towel for their little one, in case of accidents; a hooded towel is great. Another mum told us she likes to wear a towelling robe so that her towel isn’t constantly falling off as she’s trying to get her baby changed.

3. Double up those swim nappies

Unfortunately, babies don’t poo to a schedule. To prevent ‘accidents’,most pools will ask that you double up on your little one’s nappies while they’re in the water. Many parents put their babies in disposable swim nappies with a Splashabout Happy Nappy or Konfidence Swim Nappy over the top.

Check out our selection of swimwear at Funky Fish Swim School.

http://funkyfishswimschool.co.uk/product happy nappy

4.    Check the temperature of the pool

Babies tend to feel the cold quite quickly in water, which is why baby swimming lessons are usually no more than 20 to 30 minutes long.

Many swimming pools have a dedicated small or ‘learner’ pool, which is a couple of degrees warmer than its main pool. The ideal water temperature for babies who are younger than 12 weeks’ old or who weigh less than 12lbs is 32 degrees. The water can be slightly cooler at 30 degrees for older and bigger babies.   All our Funky Fish Swim School classes are taught in water that is at least 30 degrees. If you ever feel that your baby is getting cold, no-one will mind if you leave the water before the class ends.

  1. 5     Give lots of reassuring eye contact

Your baby takes their cues from you. If you feel anxious about taking them into the water, they’ll pick up on those feelings. During your swim classes, we’ll encourage you to smile, sing and talk to your little one. They’ll also love it if you give them lots of reassuring eye contact.  At Funky Fish Swim School, we will also guide you every step of the way.  It is our intention that you and your little one  both an instructional but enjoyable lesson.

6. Prepare for a hungry, tired baby

After a swimming lesson, you can expect your little one to be hungry and tired. Although it’s best to feed your baby about an hour before you get in the water, it’s fine to feed them as soon as the class is over. Most babies are ravenous after swimming. It’s not uncommon for them to have a marathon nap after the class too.

Introducing your baby to the water is such a special experience. Planning ahead helps to minimise any unnecessary stress so that you can concentrate on having fun and seeing your baby blossom and grow in confidence in the weeks and months ahead until they become a true water baby.

Click here to find out more about our baby and parent swim classes.

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Guest Blog – Mark Enright – Swimming safety, hypothermia and wetsuit protection: A guide

Swimming in a pool means constant temperatures, lifeguards on duty and known depths. None of these apply to open water swimming. Open water contains new hazards that can be unnerving for the first time swimmer.

Currents and tides can be powerful and can switch suddenly in an unpredictable manner. Water depth can change quickly. Hazards may lie underneath the surface, imperceptible from above.

Here are some common problems experienced by beginners and some tips to ensure that your swimming is safe and trouble free.

 Swimming Safetyblog1

 

The first thing a beginner will experience will be just how much colder open water is than the average indoor pool. This difference can be shocking and can take a toll on both physical and mental ability. Because of this, acclimatization is important. Acclimating your body to cold is in no way a fun process. Taking cold baths will help your body to get used to the cold. Always bear in mind that deeper water is generally colder than shallow water.

 Make sure to research the body of water you will be swimming in beforehand. Talk to fellow swimmers and local people. Knowing where currents are strongest and the times that tides change will help make sure that you don’t get into difficulty.

 Don’t swim unsupervised. If you get into difficulty it is important to have someone there to help you. Someone on the shore, or in a boat next to you, will be able to warn you of hazards or changes in circumstance.

 Don’t be tempted to jump into water without checking the depth first. Not only will your body not be acclimatized to the temperature of the water, but there could be objects submerged beneath the surface.

 Know where you are getting out. Check the place you will be swimming to. After swimming a long distance you will be tired. The last thing you want is to find out that your exit point is unsuitable because you didn’t do your research. Making a plan and sticking to it will help keep you safe and build your confidence

Hypothermia

The cold is the biggest problem facing any open water swimmer. Hypothermia happens when the body drops two degrees below its usual temperature of 37°C.

Water is much more efficient at conducting heat away from the body than air is. This means that hypothermia can come on extremely quickly when swimming in colder water.

Hypothermia can be identified by its early signs: shivering, loss of feeling in extremities and loss of colour as blood is drawn to the body’s core.

The body’s responses to hypothermia take up energy and, as a result, make the condition worse over time as the body shuts down. Symptoms of advanced stage hypothermia can include violent shivering, confusion, hallucinations and unconsciousness.

A neoprene wetsuit works by allowing a thin layer of water to be trapped between the suit and the skin. This water then warms up, helping to keep the body warm in even the coldest seas, lakes or rivers.

 A wet suit’s efficacy depends on this thin layer of water being maintained and not replaced too quickly. This means that your wetsuit must be well fitted or it will not work.

 Wearing a well fitted wetsuit means that you can stay in cold water comfortably for longer. This will help you swim faster.

 Neoprene fabric is buoyant and thick. Treading water will be easier, and you will be given some protection from underwater hazards.  

 Do you know of any other information you think we’ve missed? Let us know!

 This post was written by Mark Enright, an avid swimmer and writer for <a href=”http://www.secretspot.co.uk/“>Secret Spot</a>, a retailer of high quality swimming and surfing equipment.

 

Guest Blog by Kate Davies – Trying for No 2 ?

Trying for Number 2?

When things don’t go according to plan…………….

love

A few months ago I met Julie and Simon. They are the proud parents of Joseph who is a cheeky, noisy and very cute 3 year old. Last year Julie and Simon decided that they would love nothing more than trying for another baby to complete their family and to give Joseph a little brother or sister (well, brother actually, if Joseph got his way!). After about 6 months of trying, Julie and Simon’s excitement at trying for another baby started to turn into despair. Nothing was happening but how could this be? They had no problem in conceiving Joseph, in fact it all happened rather quickly as they fell pregnant 2 months after Julie stopped the pill……..

Unfortunately Julie and Simon’s story is an all too common occurrence. Many couples find it difficult to conceive the second time around and find it difficult to understand why. The inability to conceive after having naturally conceived children before is termed Secondary Infertility. According to RESOLVE approximately 30% of all infertility is secondary infertility.

There are many reasons why a couple may be facing secondary infertility, and in many ways these are the most frustrating. Possibly the most major factor is – age. Women are born with all the eggs they have for their reproductive life and as the woman ages, so do the eggs. It could be that the second time around, the eggs are not as good quality as they were previously or the ovarian reserve is running low. Both scenarios are pretty devastating.    hand-in-hand

Another factor is that with the passage of time one partner may have developed a medical condition that is affecting his or her ability to conceive, such as an underactive thyroid, tubal damage due to infections or diabetes.

There may also be lifestyle factors that are having an influence on a couple’s fertility. Are there financial worries that are causing stress and tension within the relationship? Is being a working mum and juggling everything stressing you out? Or simply is an active toddler making it tricky for the couple to find time to be intimate or indeed to have the energy!

take-care-10Other lifestyle factors might be playing a part too. Has one partner started smoking when previously they didn’t? Does a stressful job mean that you come home from work and share a bottle of wine every evening? As a busy mum do you get the chance to eat a good diet or get the chance for that valuable ‘me time’, I suspect probably not!

One aspect that I observe in all the women I see who are suffering from secondary infertility is that they just can’t get away from it. Where previously they got so much support from toddler groups, hanging out in soft play areas while the kids play or going along to music groups; suddenly these places cause unbearable pain. Everywhere you look you see yet another pregnant woman expecting her second or third baby, your friends are full of chatter about their imminent arrival and how their toddler will take to there being a baby in the family. One of the toughest challenges these women face is the inability to insulate themselves from pregnant bumps and babies. For their toddlers benefit they need to still expose themselves to these environments.

Often, well meaning (and maybe not so well meaning) family and friends will say “when are you going to have a little brother or sister for Evie?” or “you got pregnant with Charlie, you’ll do it again”. Managing the expectations of family and friends is difficult, especially when some friends comment that you’re not a real mum until you’ve had more than one child; potty training one while being up to your eyeballs in nappies with the other – yes, I really have heard that comment!

yellowIf a couples secondary infertility leads them down the path of pursuing infertility investigations and treatments, then a high price is paid. Not just in monetary terms but in time and emotions. There are tests and treatments to be slotted in to an already busy daily schedule which takes away time you would normally spend with your toddler. This immense feeling of guilt is then compounded by further guilt at not being able to give your child a sibling.

I firmly believe that couples experiencing secondary infertility are not given the support they deserve. Somehow secondary infertility is not perceived to be as devastating as primary infertility but I can see from my patients that it absolutely is.

So, the question is what can you do about secondary infertility and how can you help yourself to optimise the chances of conceiving again? Firstly, remember time may not be on your side. Go and see your GP. Ask for you both to have a general health screen to check for any underlining conditions that might be affecting your fertility. If you have been trying for a while, you may be able to have some initial investigations carried out. At least then you are on the right track if there are any problems that need ironing out. Find yourself a Fertility Practitioner that can help you to maximise your chances of conceiving. A fertility practitioner will look at all aspects such as determining that you are ovulating and other diagnostics to advising on nutrition, the impact of stress and how to avoid toxins; to name but a few.

I guess, the end goal is to eventually make peace with whatever situation you find yourself in and ultimately have a beautiful and fulfilling life with your family……whether you can fit them all into a hatch back or a people carrier!

 

By Kate Davies – Fertility Practitioner www.yourfertilityjourney.com

 

Kate has over 20 years’ experience in fertility and women’s health. She runs her own practice in the UK and consults patients either face to face or by Skype. If this blog has made you consider your fertility potential and would like to find out more, contact Kate by emailing kate@yourfertilityjourney.com or by calling 07739329785.

Launching on Monday 28th October Planning for Pregnancy Club online membership club to help you along your fertility journey. Only £1* Sign-up now.

*£1 for first month, thereafter £9.99 per month (free to cancel at any time – but you won’t want to!

Why Aqua Yoga is good for mind, body and baby

birthlight.comAqua Yoga is an ideal form of exercise for pre- and post-natal women, as well as anyone who has mobility problems, weight issues or feels less than supple on dry land.

Why is this?

Aqua Yoga adapts the principles and movements of classic yoga practices to the water, allowing you to create various levels of resistance according to what suits you, and enabling you to safely extend stretches in a way that isn’t possible on land. You should be fully immersed up to your shoulders and neck to experience the full benefits.

Water exercise of any kind is low impact, making it gentle on your joints and muscles. This is particularly important during pregnancy when all of your ligaments loosen to accommodate your growing baby.Aqua-Yoga-stretch

By releasing you from the constraints of gravity, your body is able to move more freely, while still working key muscles. Aqua yoga is proven to help build strength, improve balance and increase your range of motion, which can be very liberating in the later stages of pregnancy or simply if you live with ongoing aches and pains on a daily basis.

For older people, aqua yoga is a great way of maintaining your fitness with low impact stretching and toning, which are essential for keeping you supple.

The pre-natal benefits of aqua yoga

Aqua yoga has some benefits which are particularly important during pregnancy – it:

  • Improves your circulation

    Hip-Rolls - Aqua Ypag

    The rolling movement of the parent encourages movement in the baby.

  • Enables you to stretch and remain supple
  • Encourages breath control, which is important during labour
  • Gives you the opportunity to relax
  • Offers pain relief for pregnancy aches and pains
  • Improves your sleep
  • Helps with digestion
  • Reduces soreness and fatigue

These benefits are great for babies in utero too. Aqua yoga is proven to encourage babies to move into an ideal birth position towards the end of your third trimester. It can also help them to feel calm and relaxed because this is how you’re feeling. Plus, aqua yoga is great for bonding with your baby even before they’re born. Floating in the peace of the water, you have the opportunity to focus on your baby’s movements in a way that isn’t possible at any other time.

The post-natal benefits of aqua yoga

Postnatally, aqua yoga can help to realign your spine, strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, and tone those all-important pelvic floor muscles. It can also give you essential time out from the demands of being a new mum, a time to relax and be yourself. This means that when you go home to your baby, you’ll feel calmer, fitter and less stressed.

Do you have to be a strong swimmer to attend aqua yoga classes?

Another benefit of aqua yoga is that it’s suitable for tentative swimmers. Many of the sequences can be performed near the edge of the pool and are suitable for less confident. Strong swimmers can perform more complex sequences if they want to do so.

Floating during aqua yoga classes gives you greater freedom of movement and relaxation. Equally, if you’re happy to put your head and face in the water, this can give you access to a further range of practices, but it’s fine if this isn’t for you. aqua-yoga-hub

We do encourage even tentative swimmers to use floating aids so that you can lie back and relax in the water.

I trained as an aqua yoga instructor with Birthlight, a friendly charity and teacher-training organisation that focuses on the holistic approach to pregnancy, birth and babyhood.

Try it and you’ll be hooked! Click here to book a place on one of our aqua yoga sessions.

Sessions currently available at the Ingworth Pool, Norwich, NR11.

Photos taken from the Birthlight website.

Bond With Your Baby Through Swimming

birthlightBaby swimming lessons are not about finding the next Olympic hopeful or rushing your child to learn to swim. Although swimming from an early age can promote water confidence and essential life-saving skills, one of the most amazing benefits of swimming with your child is the bonding experience it provides.

It’s not a race to the finish line

There’s something about modern parenting that makes most of us just that little bit competitive about our children’s progress. Whose child is walking? Who has the ‘best’mum-baby-swimming IMG_2806-200x300sleeper? Who has the most adventurous eater? Whose child has taken to swimming like a duck to water?

But, really, what are we trying to prove? Our children all get to where they’re going in their own time.

What I love about the baby and toddler swimming classes I run is that they offer 45 minutes of one-to-one time between a child and their parent. It’s a brief pocket of time in your busy week when you both get to live in the moment together, and where you have the chance to focus 100% of your attention on your child.

I sometimes feel quite emotional as I look at the faces of the parents and their children together in the water – there’s eye contact, smiles, giggles and an unspoken sense of trust that works wonders for strengthening the unseen bond between them.

Skin-to-skin contact

Skin-to-skin contact between a parent and child has loads of benefits from birth onwards. It is proven to calm and relax both the mother and baby, regulate a baby’s heart rate and breathing, stimulate the baby’s digestion, regulate their temperature, protect against infection, stimulate feeding behaviour, and stimulate the mother’s body to release hormones that support breastfeeding and nurturing instincts.

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Swimming is an incredible way to build skin-to-skin contact into your week – there is nothing more reassuring for a child in water than to feel the gentle, reassuring touch of a parent who is calm, relaxed and giving them complete attention.

Learning and experiencing new things together

Young children are hardwired to learn, with their mental and physical development taking staggering leaps every day as they learn about the world and their place in it. Their senses are heightened and they have an almost infinite curiosity. When you take your child swimming, you have the opportunity to learn and experience new things together.

The water is a natural, comfortable environment for young babies, coming as they have done from life in the womb. It is also a very sensory experience, which young children love.

Once in the water, your child is able to use their body in a way that just isn’t possible on solid ground. There’s a freedom of movement – of breaking away from the confines of gravity – that lets us use different muscles to move around. The ebb and flow of the warm pool water across the skin is also relaxing anIMG_2869-300x200d familiar to young children, and something you can easily replicate at home in the bath.

If you get your child used to being in the water from an early age, you can help to stop it ever becoming a source of fear or the unknown, and better equip your child to try new experiences.

Swimming is about fun

Although water confidence and life-saving skills such as water orientation, floating, breathing, back floating and kicking are all learnt through swimming lessons, one of the most important things that you can take away from each session is the fact that you and your child have had fun together.

We use singing, water toys and different activities to put fun centre stage, and what better way is there to bond with your child than to have fun with them? You both leave the session feeling lighter, happier and more content with one another’s company, which can be a great counterpoint to sleepless nights or toddler temper tantrums when it can be hard to remember you do have fun together sometimes!

Making swimming fun also gives your child a great message about exercise being good for them, mentally and physically. With as many as 1 in 4, 4-5 year-olds being overweight, it’s more important than ever before to create positive associations around exercise, so that children choose to be active throughout their lives.

Great for parents too

As parents we want nothing more than to do the best we can for our children, tzara-Miao give them opportunities in life and make them happy. Swimming is an activity that helps us meet these goals. Every time you help your child achieve something new in the water, whether it’s pouring water over their hair or completely submerging them, there is a sense of victory, of opening doors to new possibilities and showing your child their infinite potential. In my experience, you will find new confidence in your own ability to support and nurture, and come away with precious memories of time spent with your children that will last for a lifetime.

Do you take your children swimming? What do you enjoy most? Do you agree that swimming is great for bonding? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

www.funkyfishswimschool.co.uk

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