Creating time to connect together as a family can be tricky amidst busy schedules and responsibilities. Finding something you can do together that is not only enjoyable but can be mentally and physically beneficial for you and your family can seem even harder. Yoga can be a great solution.
Yoga has shown to lower stress, improve feelings of calmness, and naturally uplift our mood – all while introducing a healthy, relaxing element to our routines. Beneficial for all ages, finding just an hour once a week to take a class together, or a couple of 20-30 minute time slots to fit in some family yoga at home can help create opportunities to talk about how kids are feeling (physically and emotionally).
Yoga can also offer the opportunity for kids to build their confidence, as well as to see exercise as something that can still be playful. For parents who have tried yoga themselves in the past, trying it together with children can bring a whole new appreciation and help to see familiar poses in a new light.
We’ve put together three simple poses to help you introduce yoga to your family.
Want to introduce yoga to kids? Check out Yoga for kids: Simple poses (and their benefits) to get you started.
Start by laying flat on the floor on your back, with your head, neck and spine aligned. Keep your arms beside you, palms down, and press your feet and palms to the floor, lifting your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for a few breaths, then slowly lower your hips back onto the mat.
Benefit: The bridge pose can help to reduce stress and calm children. Stretching the chest, neck and back, it can also help build leg and back strength, improve balance, and help ground you.
Kneel with your knees hip-width apart and your big toes touching. Exhale, lowering your buttocks towards your heels, and rest your torso on or between your thighs. Reach your hands out in front of you, placing your forearms flat on the ground. Let your forehead rest gently on the mat.
Benefit: Child’s pose stretches your hips, ankles and thighs. It can also help relieve stress and fatigue while calming your mind.
Start on your hands and knees, hands hip-width apart, knees under your hips. Press into your palms and raise your knees off the ground, lifting your hips and back. Try to straighten your legs as much as you can while exhaling. Keep your head tucked under and lift your shoulders away from your ears, flattening your shoulder blades on your back.
Benefit: Downward-facing dog can help release stress, calm your mind, and energise your body. It also can help strengthen your arms and legs, relieve headaches, and stretch your upper and lower body.
If you decide to give yoga a try as a family, it’s worth keeping a few things in mind:
It might be boring at first
Clearing your mind can be hard and children may find it boring at first. Keep trying; not everyone will get past this feeling, but it’s almost impossible to tell if you can or not after just one (or two) tries.
It’s not a competition
Yoga is a form of self-care and a great way to look after your well-being. It might be tempting to turn it into a fun competition to try and get children to engage more by seeing who can do the hardest pose or who can stretch the furthest, but this can encourage unhealthy or unsafe behaviour. Try to frame yoga as something that can be fun and calming. While improving their own balance or flexibility can be a great outcome, it’s not the only benefit yoga can have.
There will be fart jokes
Breaking wind during yoga can be pretty common. While in most classes this is accepted as perfectly normal and is politely ignored, while trying yoga with children (or teens), don’t be surprised if they end up squeezing out a joke or two between the inevitable giggles.