Picture this: you and your young child mooing like a cow in a back strengthening yoga pose, hissing like a snake in cobra pose, and roaring like a lion in the pursuit of greater health and wellness. Together. You and your child improving your physical, mental and emotional well being and having fun doing it. Or perhaps it’s you and your teenager connecting in partner poses and reaching an inner calm employing breath awareness techniques. Together.
One of the best gifts a child can receive is a gift of your time. The Christmas rush and our busy lives, not to mention the draw of screen time, makes finding that time difficult. Then comes January with new year resolutions for better health, coupled with cabin fever for everyone. What’s a family to do? Family yoga provides the perfect answer for excess energy, stress reduction and need for connection.
Perhaps sitting quietly omming with your rambunctious children (who you could swear were born in a barn and raised by wolves) isn’t a picture you can wrap your head around. No worries. Family yoga is different. It is child-centred, yet you will learn new skills and be challenged as well. In family yoga, connecting and enjoying the practice together is more important than perfect form.
Like any yoga class, a family yoga class encompasses a variety of ages, sizes and experiences. Mom and dad require a bit more warming up, stretching, and longer holds, while children need fun and games to keep their attention. Teens require recognition that they are growing up, facing challenges that can cause anxiety yet they still have a playful side. Family yoga addresses these needs with lively and creative practices to meet them.
Family yoga provides the perfect answer for excess energy, stress reduction and need for connection.
For example, after practicing tree pose, the children may be the wind that flows through the trees while parents and teens hold the pose. Or, after doing their own down dog, children might crawl through a down dog tunnel made by the adults in the class. An all-time favorite in family yoga classes is Lizard on a Rock, a partner pose where the parent and the child take turns being the lizard sunning themself on a rock. Their partner is the rock. Of course, poses are modified to fit the obvious differences in size so there will be no rock crushing by a giant daddy lizard. The beauty of partner poses is that it encourages physical connection and cooperation within the family. Active games, another part of family yoga, release excess energy, reducing stress and cultivating the playfulness and joy of yoga and being together.
Family yoga, like all yoga, promotes body awareness, strength, balance and better posture. From a mental health perspective, yoga improves self-confidence, self- regulation, and focus, while lessening anxiety. Breath awareness and meditation plant the seed for a stronger more resilient individual. Aside from the physical and mental health benefits, the time spent together sends the message to your children that they are important and spending time with them is important to you. What could be a better gift than that?
D.L. Murphy is a certified adult/children’s yoga instructor (200RYT/95 RCYT) and has a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Fine Arts from Vanderbilt University. Murphy is the author and co-illustrator of the children’s book and Royal Dragonfly Award Winner, The Warrior Princess, a yogi’s tale about facing and overcoming obstacles. Home is a farm in Franklin, Tennessee where she resides with her husband, family and a variety of rascally farm animals.