Monday, November 28, 2016

Mouse Pose - Regulating, Calming and Organising. A great pose for the pre-festive sensory overload!

By Sue Heron – Training Co-ordinator Tatty Bumpkin and Paediatric Physiotherapist

This week Tatty Bumpkin sets off to visit her friend the giant. He lives in a huge house on the other side of the Giggle Tree, but this house is maybe a little too big for mouse..

Tatty Bumpkin's Mouse Pose

Can you be a really tiny mouse?

Note to parents
– It a good idea to do mouse pose with your child so they can copy you, this is especially true if your child is younger. Recent research demonstrates that doing activities and movements together helps the bonding process between parents/carers and their child.
  • Find a comfortable space on the floor and take off socks and shoes.
  • Guide your child to sit back on their heels opposite or alongside you - make sure you have enough space.
  • Keeping your arms by your sides, curl forward and pretend to ‘kiss your knees’. It's a good idea to say this to your child so they get the idea of curling forwards into a 'ball' rather than lying on their tummy.
  • Once you are curled up in mouse pose - encourage your child to squeeze their muscles - to be a tiny mouse! As your child actively squeezes their muscles and joints they will be activating their proprioceptive sense - see below.
  • Be sleeping mice in your little houses - shut your eyes, take deep breaths and lie very still for 15-20 seconds, if you can!

Want to Make it Harder?

  • Lift up your head, make squeaking sounds, then wriggle you fingers on either side of your mouth as mousy whiskers.
  • Stretch out one leg, then the other, and wave them from side to side. You’re a magic mouse with TWO tails.
  • Finally come up onto all fours and scamper round the room to run away from the pesky cat. Can you go under a table or even a chair? Be careful not to bump your heads.

Mouse pose to Tatty Bumpkin's  Mouse Song

You can download Tatty Bumpkin Mouse song from iTunes or ask your Tatty Bumpkin teacher about the Tatty Bumpkin CD. Mouse song encourages your child to relax and be still in mouse pose and then to ‘let off steam’ as a mouse scampering away from the cat!

Tatty Bumpkin's This is the Life!

Why Mouse Pose is ‘Good For Me’

Mouse Pose can calm and organise the young nervous system. As your child curls up and squeezes their body in mouse pose they will stimulate their deep touch and proprioceptive senses.
  • Deep pressure touch is the most tolerated form of tactile input and tends to be calming and soothing for the nervous system.
  • Any push, pull, stretch or ...squeeze on a muscle or joint will stimulate the proprioceptive sense. Therapists love the proprioceptive sense, often calling it the 'safe sense', as its activation can help to organise the nervous system helping a child feel more grounded.
The beauty of mouse pose is that it provides your child with a healthy dose of both deep pressure and proprioceptive sensory input ... in a fun way. 
So, when Christmas preparations become just a little too exiting - remember Clement Clarke's Moore's poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' and be a christmas mouse!

'Twas the night before Christmas..'

The Tatty Bumpkin Adventure This Week

In this session your child will have a rainbow of opportunities. They will be:

1. Developing their body awareness as they stretch out wide to be giants and curl up small to be mice.

2. Coming up with their own ideas to suggest places for a mouse house!

3. Using gestures or words to express their thoughts i.e. Feeling
  • ‘A bit worried’ as they creep into the giant’s house
  • ‘Sad’ as a 'mouse without a house'
  • ‘Confident’ to go exploring round the giant’s house
  • ‘Excited’ at finding the perfect home for mouse
4. Refining their sense of rhythm as they curl up, then scamper to Tatty Bumpkin Mouse song.

5. Calming themselves, and becoming aware of their breath in mouse pose.

6. Developing fine motor skills as they twitch their mouse whiskers and help mouse build his own little house.

7. Having fun with their friends as they:
  • Curl up and scamper round the room as little mice.
  • Stomp as huge giants.
  • Work together to make the perfect little house for mouse.
Find your local Tatty Bumpkin class at

Love Tatty Bumpkin xx

Tatty Bumpkin Makes Movement Fun, Creative and Educational

  • We use unique storylines and music to make our classes meaningful and fun for young children.
  • Sessions are multi-sensory to promote regulation skills and spark imaginations. They involve:
    • Adapted yoga poses and activities which stimulate and calm the body senses.
    • Dedicated songs and rhythms, relevant to the stories.
    • Fun, often natural textured props.
  • We have carefully linked Tatty Bumpkin to the English Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence frameworks.

A Thought for 2017 - A New Start with Tatty Bumpkin?

Maybe, you are thinking of a new career which gives you:
  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family
Find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at:

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Row, row, row your boat - Strengthen core muscles, play with others and have a sensory workout!

By Sue Heron – Training Co-ordinator Tatty Bumpkin and Paediatric Physiotherapist
This week most Tatty Bumpkin sessions have been, or will be doing, 'Boat' pose as part of their Yoga inspired adventure. Tatty Bumpkin rows across the seas to explore an island of statues....

Boat Pose - Older Children

Row back and forth with your friend!

Boat Pose for Older Children

  • Find a clear place on a non-slip surface e.g. mat or carpet. Sit down opposite your child -or your child can do the pose with a sibling or friend.
  • Take off socks and shoes and stretch your legs out in front so you can get close to each other. 
  • Hold each other’s wrists - this is more comforting than griping hands. 
  • Rock gently backwards and forwards. Encourage your child to work with you, waiting their turn. As your child pulls you forward, give them a little resistance so they have to 'work hard' - this stimulates their proprioceptive sense (see below). You or your child might feel a tightness at the back of your legs as you stretch your hamstring muscles.
  • Keep the rhythm fairly slow and steady. You can sing 'Row, row the boat' to help you keep in time. 

Want to Make it Harder? 

As the waves get bigger ... sway side to side as well as back and forth. Talk about different boat shapes or the creatures you might see in the waves.

The waves are getting bigger!

Take a Canoe!

Older children may prefer to go 'canoeing' by themselves. 
  • Guide you child to sit up straight with their legs out in front. Encourage them to reach forward and grasp one foot with both hands. Show them how they can wrap one hand round the top of their foot and the other round their heel so the sole of their foot faces inwards. 
  • To 'row' your child needs to gently bring their foot towards their body and then move it away. It is important that they don't take their foot across their outstretched leg as this can cause unwanted strain.
Go exploring in your own canoe..

Why Boat pose is ‘Good For Me’ - Older Children

As your child does boat pose they will have the opportunity to:
  • Develop their social and communication skills - whilst they are moving and playing with their friends or you!
  • Refine their sitting posture. The rocking action of boat pose promotes sitting balance and provides your child with a gentle hamstring stretch. In addition your child’s core muscles (their abdominal, spinal, shoulder and pelvic) muscles, will be activated. 
  • Stimulate their ‘movement senses’ and manage their ‘level of alertness’ for learning. Your child's 'movement senses' - their proprioceptive and vestibular senses - will be stimulated as they rock back and forth in boat pose. Both of these senses have a significant impact on alertness levels.
    Proprioceptive 'rich' activities (pushing, pulling, lifting and squeezing) tend to help a child to feel more organised and grounded. The pulling movements of boat pose stimulate this sense.
    Movement of the head stimulates the vestibular sense. This sense directly effects ‘levels of alertness’ - it's the volume control for the body! Slow, rocking head movements tend to be soothing and organising whilst up and down and spinning head movements are intensely alerting.
    So Boat pose, if done rhythmically and fairly slowly and not for too long, can gradually raise your child’s ‘levels of alertness’, in an organising way. This makes the pose an excellent activity for your child to do as a ‘movement break’ if they need to increase their levels of concentration for a difficult, abstract task i.e. writing or maths. Remember not for too long, 1 minute is probably enough!

Description of Boat pose – Younger Children and Toddlers

Option 1
Option 1 - Find a comfortable place to sit on the floor with your toddler. Stretch your legs out in front of you and either gently sit your toddler on your thighs facing you, or invite them to sit in between your legs (see picture above). Remember to keep smiling and talking! Holding their forearms and wrists, gently rock forwards and backwards with your toddler – like a boat on the waves. After two or three rocks, if your toddler is happy, try rocking a little faster and sing the ‘Row, row your boat’ song. 

Option 2

Option 2 - This is a fun adaptation to do with another adult or as part of a group as your toddler can look at other people.
Find a comfortable place to sit on the floor with space in front of you. Stretch your legs out in front and place your toddler on your thighs facing away from you, supporting them with your hands around their hips. Shuffle forwards on your bottom, gently rocking your toddler from side to side as you go. After you have moved forward a little way - shuffle backwards. Once again sing the ‘Row, row, row your boat’ song as you do the movements.
If your toddler is enjoying the game, make the rocking movements bigger so they are challenged to keep their balance on your lap. Your toddler will enjoy the movement of their body against gravity, but do keep checking to make sure that they are not starting to feel anxious. 

When doing either of the above poses, with your toddler remember not to do the more vigorous rocking movements for too long as this can overstimulate them and cause them anxiety.

‘Why Boat Pose is Good for Your Toddler’

As you do boat/rowing pose with your toddler you will give them a chance to:
  • Refine their ‘postural control’ in sitting - a foundation skill for sitting at a desk.From about 3 months your toddler will have been be relying less and less on their baby reflexes. Instead they will be developing their postural control mechanism- learning how to move and control their body in space.
    If your baby/toddler is about 8 months or older you may notice they are starting to consistently put their arms down to either side to ‘save’ themselves when they feel they are losing their balance in sitting. This saving action is a mature ‘postural reaction’ which we all use to keep ourselves safe throughout our lives. As you do this activity with your toddler try gently tipping them to either side to see if they are starting to put their arm out on that side to keep their balance. Remember always do this slowly and carefully-you do not want to make them anxious! (Image courtesy of
For example: Babies will put their left hand down to 'save' themselves as they tip to the left
  • Activate their tummy and spinal muscles in a coordinated way. As your toddler gently rocks back and forth with you in boat pose they will be activating and strengthening their tummy and back muscles. These muscle groups have to work together for activities such and sitting, standing, walking etc. 
  • Organise their sensations and movements. The vestibular sense tells us where our body is in relation to gravity and whether we are moving or still, the receptors for this sense are in our inner ears (see above). This sense begins to function in the womb, at about 5 months after conception, and is well developed at birth.
    As your toddler starts to toddle their vestibular sense begins to play a bigger role.
    Helping the young brain to sort out and combine the huge variety of sensations, and underpinning their early control of posture, balance and movement.
    We cannot see this sensory organisation happening - but your toddler may naturally seek out spinning or rocking experiences - spinning round and round or wanting to play on the swings over and over. These vestibular sensations help your toddler to feel happy and 'more organised'. The trick is not to let your toddler carry on for too long - as it can 'end in tears' as they become over-stimulated. 

Make it Multi-Sensory, Educational & Fun

In Tatty Bumpkin classes we use unique storylines to make activities and poses meaningful and to fire the imagination.

All our classes are multi-sensory comprising of:

  • Adapted yoga poses and activities which both stimulate and calm the body senses
  • Dedicated songs and rhythms which are relevant to the stories
  • Bespoke hand-woven props to look at and feel. Tatty Bumpkin has its own range of fairly traded animal props to back up the yoga poses and bring the stories to life. Our teachers are supported to use natural props in the classes which are great to feel as opposed to smooth plastic
We have carefully linked each weekly Tatty Bumpkin adventure to the 2014 Early Years Foundation Stage (England) and the Curriculum for Excellence (Scotland). 

So … The Adventure This Week  ..

Your child will have the opportunity to:
1. Develop their social skills as they do boat pose with their friends

2. Come up with their own ideas to help Tatty Bumpkin build a boat

3. Use gestures or words to express their feelings. Feeling:
  • ‘Excited’ as they set sail on the open seas 
  • ‘Happy’ when they meet their friend the octopus
  • Perhaps a little ‘worried’ as they set off to explore the island
  • Surprised’ and ‘curious’ as they meet the statues.
4. Develop their sense of rhythm as they wave their arms and legs to the Tatty Bumpkin Octopus song

5. Calm themselves and become more aware of their breathing as they stand ‘still as statues’

6. Develop their fine motor skills as they explore the statues

7. Have fun with their friends: rowing across the ocean, dancing with the octopus and meeting and exploring the statues.

Strange statues ....

Find your local Tatty Bumpkin class at 

A Thought for 2017 - New Start with Tatty Bumpkin?  

Maybe, you are thinking of a new career which gives you:
  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family
Find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at:

Monday, November 7, 2016

Baby Bumpkin's Cat Pose - Developing Key Physical, Social and Communication Skills

By Sue Heron Tatty Bumpkin Coordinator and Paediatric Physiotherapist 

In this blog I describe Baby Bumpkin Cat Pose and outline the key benefits for both you and your baby.  

The Baby Bumpkin Cat Pose

Before you start - Precautions
For your baby 

When you are doing cat pose with your baby, never force the movements and keep looking at them- to make sure they are comfortable. If you feel any resistance, or your baby becomes unsettled, do stop. 
For you 
If you are a new mum, it's important to get the okay from your health visitor or midwife before you roll out your yoga mat! 

Cat Pose 1 - with Younger Babies or For You!

A gentle stretch for you and fun for your baby too!

Description of Cat Pose

  • Settle your baby on a mat or towel in front of you and encourage them to look at you. 
  • Keeping good eye contact with your baby, come up onto your hands and knees over your baby - this is ‘cat’ pose
    • In cat pose you can gently stretch and mobilise your back muscles
    • Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Keep your back level, to do this you will have to tighten your tummy muscles – this is good!
    • If you are a new mum your back will be slightly less stable so do the movements slowly and carefully. Be very careful not to over arch your back in either direction.
  • In cat pose you can smile, nod and shake your head at your baby, even make funny faces and meowing sounds like a cat - just for fun! 
  • If you feel confident to do so, bend your elbows to kiss your baby on their forehead, then straighten your arms - a mini ‘press up’. This is a great way to bond and have fun with your baby and also to strengthen your arms in preparation for carrying your growing baby.
  • If you feel comfortable in cat pose, and you do not have any back problems, tuck your chin in towards your chest and gently arch your back towards the ceiling – like a cat having a stretch (see picture below). Try to breathe out and tighten your tummy muscles as you do this arching movement. Hold the position for a few seconds, breathing normally but keeping your tummy muscles tight. Then gently bring your back down to the starting position.
Gently arch your back towards the ceiling whilst breathing out.

N.BSome mums might find that it is hard to put their hands flat on the ground in cat pose because their wrists are sore, if this is the case, make a fist with your hands and balance on your knuckles. However do try to keep gently stretching your wrists so that eventually you can do cat pose with your palms flat on the floor. 

Cat Pose 2 - for Tummy-time!

Cat Pose variation 1
  • Once your baby is starting to gain control of their head, they can try cat pose across your thighs. This is a great way for your baby to experience ‘tummy time’ as they are in close contact with you for that added reassurance. 
  • Gather a few of your baby’s favourite toys or a safe baby mirror which you can use to entertain your baby with once they are in cat pose. 
  • Make yourself comfortable, sitting on a mat or cushion on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Try sitting with your back against a wall for added support. 
  • Lay your baby on their tummy either:
    • Across both of your thighs, gently tipping them upwards and backwards by lifting up the thigh which is under their shoulders (see picture below courtesy of If your baby is about 3 months they may start to push up from your thigh using their forearms - raising their head and chest up higher. As your baby lifts their head, carefully place one hand on their bottom, this will encourage them to push through their hips and will give them further support. 

    • Across one of your thighs letting their knees rest on the floor. See variation 1 at beginning of this section. This position is ideal for older babies.
Note: Whilst doing cat pose with your baby always be guided by them, be careful not to overtire them. Keep looking at your baby’s face to check they are happy and keep talking to them so they are reassured. 

Other Activities - Walking the cat! 

If your baby is older (4 – 5 mths), and they are confident in cat pose, you can add a bit of movement by alternately bending and straightening your knees under them. Remember to keep talking or singing to your baby and stroking down their backs as you do this movement. 

Why Cat Pose is Good for Both You and Your Baby

Benefits of Cat Pose 1 

1. Bonding
As you move into cat pose, over your baby, you will be making it easier for them to look at you, hence you will be building up the relationship between you both. Your baby will love to gaze up at you -  you are your baby's best play mate. 

2. Early Communication Skills
Facial expressions, movements and sounds are your baby's first language, so as you smile and nod your head in cat pose you will be supporting their early communication skills. From about three months of age your baby may start to copy your facial expressions and gestures.  

3. Benefits of Cat Pose 1 for You 
As you move into cat pose you will be:
  • Strengthening your shoulders, arms and wrists
  • Stretching out your back muscles.  As you arch your back in cat pose you will be stretching your back muscles and gently mobilising your spine. 
  • Strengthening your tummy muscles.  Often after pregnancy it is hard to ‘feel’ your tummy muscles - cat pose will help you to become more aware of these muscles. As you arch your back up and tighten your tummy muscles you will be encouraging these muscles to become more active, this is important, as your deeper tummy muscles help to support your back. 
But always be advised by your midwife or health visitor if you have any concerns about doing cat pose. 

Benefits of Tummy time Cat Pose 2 

  • From birth your baby gradually gains control of their body, largely in a head-to-feet direction. Cat pose gives your baby the chance to refine their head and shoulder movements whilst still feeling close to you. When you do cat pose with your baby for short periods during the day you will see their developing skills i.e. 
    • If your baby is 3 months old they will be starting to lift their head straight up and may be pushing down through their forearms. You may notice that your baby is now bringing their elbows directly underneath their shoulders (younger babies position their elbows behind their shoulders). This change of elbow position, is an important milestone, it allows your baby to control their head and upper body to look around whilst lying on their tummy.
    • At about 4 months your baby is likely to be lifting their head and chest higher off your thighs in cat pose. They will feel more stable as their shoulders, hip, spine and tummy muscles become stronger.
    • When your baby is 5 -6 months they will start to be able to shift their weight onto one arm so they can reach forward with the other - another crucial skill. Your baby may also start to push up on their hands, straightening their elbows.
      These reaching and pushing movements are wonderful for the development of your baby’s shoulder and hand muscles and provide the foundation for complex fine motor skills such as writing. In addition, as your baby pushes up on their hands, they will be refining their propping skills ready for sitting.
    • At about 7 months your baby may well have a surge of activity! Whilst on their tummy they may tuck one knee under their chest and, crucially, at the same time push up with both hands so they move into the crawl position. Once on their hands and knees, they will enjoy rocking themselves forward and backwards as they stimulate their body senses.
      At this age you can try a progression of cat pose – place your baby over one of your thighs - with their hands and knees on either side (see picture below). In this position your baby can experience crawl position whilst feeling supported and close to you. 
Cat pose as a start to crawling

Our Baby Bumpkin Sessions – Nationwide

Please remember, for you and your baby to gain the full benefit of all the Baby Bumpkin Yoga and multi-sensory activities, find out about your local Baby Bumpkin class at
  • Each Baby Bumpkin adventure is carefully linked to the national curriculums: Early Years Foundation Stage (England) or Pre-birth to Three (Scotland). 
  • The sessions enhance and support your baby’s physical skills whilst developing their early communication, social and thinking skills.  
  • Our qualified Baby Bumpkin Teachers are fully trained in aspects of baby development and Baby Yoga and are kept fully up-to-date by our professional team of paediatric physiotherapists, Yoga teachers and musicians.

The Baby Bumpkin Adventure this Week

If you are taking your baby to a Baby Bumpkin class this week you will go on an adventure with Baby Bumpkin and his friend Cat to find out what people do all day! Your baby will have a chance to: 
  • Develop their physical skills as they do the cat and cycling poses with you. 
  • Progress their early communication skills and enhance their bond with you as play as sleepy, stretchy cats to the Tatty Bumpkin cat song. 

Stretch out as a stretchy cat! 
  • Progress their early visual, hand and thinking skills as they play with the building props.   
What house shall we build for cat?
  • Have fun with others and develop their social skills as you ‘splash in puddles’ together to the Tatty Bumpkin instrumental track!  
  • And finally, at the end of the session, enjoy a special moment of relaxation and bonding with you.  

Love Baby Bumpkin x

Why Not Work for Yourself? 

Maybe, you are thinking of a new career, which gives you:

  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family?
In which case - find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at

Introducing Baby Bumpkin!