Russian Dynamic Baby Gymnastics (also referred to as Dynastic Gymnastics or Extreme Baby Yoga) is a type of rigorous infant physical therapy, which profoundly stretches and mobilizes the limbs of the baby. It’s strongly inspired by the stretching exercises such as carried out in African style baby massages, but it goes a few steps further and takes things to the max.
It’s obvious that the exercises can be rather dangerous for the baby if they’re done without extensive experience and knowledge of the practitioner i.e. therapist. For instance, the baby is swung, tossed, and turned upside down in the air, and acrobatically moved around the practitioner while being held by the legs, hands or arms, sometimes only by one hand or foot.
It’s said to be a legal, popular, and rather widespread practice in Russia, already carried out with very young babies, which can start when they’re about three weeks old.
One of the ideas behind the practice is that babies are quite tense when they’re born and need to be “opened up” to the new, frightening, wide world. As such, by doing Baby Gymnastics the baby becomes more sociable and more relaxed, and it stimulates its overall development positively. This aspect reminds closely of the Senegalese Baby Massage Ritual, which likewise prepares and integrates the baby for the new world outside the womb.
It’s also thought that Dynamic Baby Gymnastics cures muscular and skeletal problems of babies and makes them stronger. Moreover, it’s claimed that children who have regularly done Baby Gymnastics become early readers, singers, talkers, and swimmers, often also becoming excellent athletes later in life.
Outside of Russia, there has been strong criticism on the practice, but I think it’s unfair to judge unfamiliar bodywork just because it seems extreme and we don’t really grasp it. As a whole, parents and baby’s in Russia seem to thrive, and it’s perhaps a better attitude to keep an open mind and do research together with experienced Baby Gymnastics practitioners and reap the health benefits of the practice.