Practicing Yoga with Kids

I remember being pregnant and daydreaming about raising little yogis.  How lucky they'd be to experience this awesome philosophy from birth (and really, before birth via prenatal yoga!).  It would be interesting to ask Jim what he daydreamed about.  I'm guessing not yoga.   

In reality, we have done little "formal" yoga to date.  A few poses here and there, maybe peek in at Mommy during her yoga time.  But the kids didn't seem that into it, and honestly, I was not interested in taking them to toddler classes.  Now that they've grown up a bit, and I've started this blog, they seem to be more interested.  I like to think they sense a new energy bursting from my soul...(but let's not get carried away, anything Youtube grabs their attention).  

I created this Yinspired Yoga: For Kids video by request.  My best friend Jaime up in Boston wants to dip her toes into Yinspired Yoga, and also wants something she can do with her kids.  Whatever it takes to get someone started, right?  ;).  In all seriousness, I loved the idea of involving Ben, Will, and Jack in this journey, and having them be part of other family's togetherness and bonding.  It also made me reflect on how I have incorporated "yoga" into the parenting journey so far.  

Yoga in Earliest Years:  Breathing

"Yoga" for my kids during toddler years has been all about the breath, and specifically, to experience how it affects the mind.  Like my absolute favorite toddler TV character teaches: 

When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath, and count to four. 1, 2, 3, 4.”
— Daniel Tiger

Yes!  Thank you, DT & PBS!  Not explicitly "yoga" but it is laying a foundation (while also helping parents everywhere, double win!).  Try it right now:  Take a deeeeeeep breath, then slowly count to four as you exhale.  1....2....3....4....  Result:  an immediate sense of calm.  So intuitive, a toddler understands!

Another "aligned-with-yoga-but-not-yoga" resource I've cherished is the Toddler Tools book series from Free Spirit publishing.  All three of my kids loved these books, which I use as a barometer for "kid approved."  [There are many other books, toys, games that maybe 2 out of 3 enjoy, and then you know it may be hit or miss with other kids.].   I think it has something to do with the illustrations, or maybe the sing-songy words, but somehow these super-educational books were requested again and again.  I recommend all of them, and often give Manners Time, Calm Down Time, Clean Up Time and Bedtime as baby gifts.  Calm Down Time in particular is like yoga for 2 year olds.  


Reading this book to your children is like giving them yoga.  

Helps Mom & Dad relax too ;) 


Yoga in Early Elementary:  Shared Experience

For my children now (ages 6, 6, and 3), asana yoga, or postures, seems like a good fit in appropriate doses.  For us, it's an opportunity to create a space for sharing something important to me with them.  We create memories together while hopefully creating benefits short-term (by feeling better after practice) and long-term (by infusing their souls with lifetime tools and philosophies).  Is it wrong to sign up your child for kiddie yoga?  No.  Is it wrong to put on my Youtube video and sneak 15 minutes for yourself to decompress in some other way?  No.  In fact, do both those things!  It is all relative and depends on the day, right?  I personally was surprised by how much I enjoyed practicing with Ben & Will for this video, and look forward to doing more yoga with them and Jack.  Thank you, Jaime, for this great suggestion!


Insights from Practicing Yoga with My Kids

Seeing them for who they are.  Pretty great human beings.

Living in the moment, vs according to my plan.  Great things happen when you add a ninja swirl to warrior pose!

Feeling energy shifts.  Through doing postures together, we align our energies and deepen connection.

They are interested in me and being with me.  And vice versa.  

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
— James Baldwin
Heather Wininger