No, it’s not a joke from Stuff White People Like. Baby yoga is a real phenomenon, and it isn’t the drop-your-kids-off-while-you-do-real-yoga stuff of yuppie parenting. Instead, the practice of flipping and swinging newborns around by their limbs has gained traction in Russia and elsewhere. The goal? Creating more physically courageous and adept children.
Recently, a baby yoga video by guru Lena Fokina went viral on the Web. Given the extreme nature of Fokina’s baby-swingin’, many viewers were convinced it was a hoax. So DadWagon’s Nathan Thornburgh scored an exclusive interview with Fokina, who lives in Dahab, Egypt, where she teaches yoga and other “extreme” physical pursuits to children and adults. (More on Time.com: 5 Ways to Stop Stressing)
Read the full, and fascinating, Q&A at DadWagon here.
As for parents’ motivation for baby-swinging, Thornburgh writes:
“[B]aby yoga,” and its corollary, dunking-a-newborn-in-the-ocean, is not just another act of toughening. The more I looked into it, the more I realized that in a certain milieu of alterna-Russians, the parents who do this are sort of like Slavic Tiger Mothers: hyperinvolved parents who want to give their child a leg up in life. “I wanted the best for my daughter,” says my friend Ivan, who baby-swung his firstborn after hearing about it in a Moscow birthing class. “So we started when she was five days old.” Seven years later, he says, she’s not only healthy, she’s fearless and advanced beyond her peers: “She started walking early, swimming early. I really think it worked.”
(More on Time.com: See photos of baby dictators)
You can watch the original “Baby Yoga with Lena Fokina” below: