Getting Mindful with Yoga
Life at home is usually hectic, I am not going to lie. There is a beautiful chaos that envelops my home every single day, especially around 4 pm it seems like all hell breaks loose. Kids have so much energy and becoming a more mindful family can be affected when there is high stress and you are just starting out. One thing that I have found to be helpful is trying get mindful with Yoga as a family. We know that personal yoga practice has many benefits for the individual, but did you know that practicing yoga as a family has its very own benefits?
Possible benefits of Family Yoga
- Brings parents and children closer together,
- Adds further benefits of greater calm,
- Sense of spiritual connectivity, and
- healthy movement and fun added to the daily routine.
How to transform your beloved yoga practice into a kid-friendly activity your entire family can enjoy:
1. Lead by Example
First things first: the worst thing you can do is make yoga yet another activity that gets squeezed onto the to-do list. If your children offer any resistance to practicing with you, or if you are working with toddlers who have a shorter attention span, try not to force them into participating.
Instead, lead by example, and let your kids see you practicing with or without them. When children see their role models engaging in something that has tangible positive benefits (“Mom is so much calmer after her yoga.”), their interest is likely to be ignited, and they are more likely to willingly jump in. Otherwise, if forced into the activity, your kids will more than likely react negatively (“I don’t wanna do this!”). Let them experience the benefits of yoga over time by being patient and allowing them to come into it naturally.
2. Establish Routine
Kids (and adults) thrive on ritual and routine. For this reason, establish a predictable yoga practice, while remaining flexible about where and when it happens. Attach the activity to an event I particularly like getting the kids to practice before bed because it calms them down, adding this to a daily even like when you wake up or before bed, will allow your children to gain an appreciation of the sacred ritual and find comfort in the fulfilled expectations. Be sure everyone in the family has their own yoga mat (including the little ones), and incorporate the setting up of the mats and the cleaning up of the space as part of the mindfulness practice.
Routine is also highly valued with regard to the practice itself, so do the same poses in the same order every day. Perhaps you take turns leading the sequence from day to day or pose to pose, on some days adding a posture here or there. Overall, however, it’s helpful to stay consistent in your sequencing so everyone gains a sense of accomplishment, familiarity, and pride as the practice takes shape over time.
3. Be Lighthearted and Have Fun
Drop any expectations of what a yoga practice looks like when you involve your family and children. Family yoga often (and should) include laughter, verbal and physical interaction, and creative play. Children love making the sounds of the animals after which some poses are named (like Horse, Cobra, Dog, Cow). Tell stories that link the poses together (“The Cobra slithered up the Tree, and then an Eagle flew out!”).
Even on the days when your children don’t participate with you, allow your body to become a jungle gym, and invite them to climb under, around, or even on you as you practice. Play allows for more positive emotions, and the more positivity you enjoy together, the closer your relationships become.
4. Gather Some Resources
There are some great books out there from which you can draw inspiration. The colorful and creative books, Good Morning Yoga and Good Night Yoga, are perfect practice-along storybooks, and can easily become part of your wake-up and bedtime rituals.
The deck of cards Yoga Pretzels, is also a rich resource, as it contains drawings and descriptions of many yoga poses, as well as stories and ideas for games and activities that include multiple children or larger groups. Depending on the attention span(s) you’re working with, the length of one children’s book might be just perfect. Again, strive for consistency of practice over time, as opposed to the length of practice or depth of exploration.
5. A Family-Friendly Yoga Flow
If you are already familiar with yoga poses, try this sample family yoga sequence and start a new tradition:
- Mountain Pose
- 1 to 3 Sun Salutations (including Upward- and Downward-Facing Dog)
- Cat and Cow
- Child’s Pose
- Tree Pose
- Warrior II
- Triangle Pose
- Handstand against the wall
- Waterfall (Viparita Karani)
LET US KNOW
Do you wonder how much easier life would have been if you had learned mindfulness skills as a child? Using these techniques with your child is changing their lives in the best way, by teaching them mindfulness and compassion, you are setting them up for success no matter what crosses their path. What do you think about using mindfulness techniques with your children? What do you think of the techniques we shared today? Let us know in the comments. Are you attempting mindfulness with your kids? Snap a photo and Tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram use the hashtag- #mindfulnessmonday
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