Baby yoga? Maybe if you’re Lena Fokina

Jan 21, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. ET

A bizarre video of a Russian woman literally swinging a baby in ways that would rock most mamas’ minds began making the rounds online a few weeks ago. Now, Lena Fokina’s “baby yoga” video has become quite popular…but not for a good reason.

baby holding feet

I usually advocate refraining from judgment when it comes to other mom's parenting choices as well as accepting cultural differences, but in the case of Lena Fokina and her baby yoga moves, judgment is the word of the day. And if it's not judgment, it is concern for sure.

What's the buzz all about?

The buzz is about a video of a woman, Lena Fokina, who is literally swinging a baby around her body, up and down, and back and forth -- in ways that I wouldn't swing my Marc Jacobs handbags. Gawker reports that the translation of the text on the video is, "Baby Yoga with Lena Fokina."

If that's "baby yoga," then most of us moms who have witnessed or participated in a baby yoga class with our wee ones are owed a refund.

Baby yoga or crazy?

I think it's fair to say that most mothers would never dream of doing anything similar to what Lena Fokina does with the infant in her baby yoga video. Most brand new moms are exceptionally careful with their young babies, and even as we become more comfortable over time, we're well aware of concerns such as shaken baby syndrome and those little body parts called joints. Babies are soft and flexible, but most of us aren't willing to find out exactly how soft and flexible.

And while infants who are injured or killed as a result of shaken baby syndrome aren't swung around, but rather shaken, it's safe to say that most moms are too cautious -- or not crazy enough -- to risk it.

Is this form of "baby yoga" safe?

Michele Borboa, M.S., SheKnows Health Editor, notes, "I don't recommend hanging infants upside down for any extended periods of time and especially not while swinging them; swinging by itself runs the risk of dropping an infant on its head and causing long-term brain damage." Basically, common sense should dictate that it's not smart or safe to swing an infant.

If that's not enough, Borboa offers very detailed reasons not to swing your baby to and fro: "Hanging upside down for long periods of time can cause pooling of blood in the lungs, which can lead to pulmonary edema, and the head, which can lead to death -- gravity helps pull blood down to our feet when we are upright but it also pulls blood into the head when the body is upside down, and there are no muscles in the head to help pump the blood upward towards the heart. Another problem is high blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke. Any long-term alteration of the circulatory system can have negative, if not dangerous, long-term effects."

Forget safe. How about respectful?

Just because a baby is a baby doesn't mean his parents -- or other adults -- should use him for their own…I'm not even sure what to call it. Hobby? Agenda? Sport? Babies rely on their parents and other adults who care for them for protection.

Swinging a real, live baby around -- and calling it baby yoga -- in the same manner that my two-year-old daughter swings her dolls when she's being silly is hardly my idea of respecting an infant. Trite as might sound, babies are people and they deserve respect.

And yes, this is real

When I first saw the video, I watched it a handful of times, trying to determine whether it was real. I wasn't the only one. The Internet was buzzing with speculation over whether the Russian baby swinging (or baby yoga) videos were real.

Well, the answer is yes, the baby yoga videos are real. Lena Fokina granted DadWagon an exclusive interview -- her first American interview about baby swinging or baby yoga. The baby yoga video is real and the baby being swung around by Lena Fokina was a two-week old infant that she reports is healthy and advanced now.

When asked whether Americans should try baby yoga at home, Fokina responded, "Americans should be able to do a lot of this themselves, in order to pass something on to their children. An immobile American loses their naturally given reflexes (swimming, reaching, stepping—they have machines that do this for them). That's why, in parallel with their children, the parents learn to do these things: dive, swim, run, jump, bend and much more. Our workshop is called 'family active lifestyle.'"

Do you want my two cents? Don't try this at home.

>>Watch the baby yoga/baby swinging video and then weigh in. Do you think Lena Fokina's form of baby yoga is acceptable?

Read more about real yoga for kids