Yoga with Kids

By adhering to the following prerequisites, you too can have a complete yogic experience with your children.


image from NPR

image from NPR

  • Start by choosing your mat.  When your children see you roll out yours, they will immediately clamor for one of the remaining mats (tip: be sure to have only one of each color and one less than the number of children).
  • Place yours in an open area, free from obstacles and other people.  Your children will fill in the void.
  • Set your yoga strap at your side, easily accessible during your practice.  Your children will be able to grasp it easily as well to whip each other.
  • Don’t forget yoga blocks – in case you need extra support during a stretch.  Or a teething ring or projectile.
  • Clear your mind.  Your children will ping around like ping-pong balls no matter what venomous thoughts you entertain.
  • Lie in repose.  Ignore that fact that a toddler’s thick skull could sucker punch you in the gut at any moment.
  • Oh, and be sure to slide your sandals off before lying down, but keep them close by.  Your particularly feisty child may need a missile to launch at you for not arranging her not-right-color mat properly.
  • Range through the poses at your own pace – not that of your instructor.  You need to adjust for puppies crawling through your downward dog, snakes wriggling under your bridge, monkeys hanging onto your tree.
  • Accept your body as it is.  Don’t force the sore muscles of your shoulder or your tight hamstrings.  Your children will do that when they knock into you, sending your warrior tumbling.
  • Move your yoga practice outside for inspiration and variety.  Tell your children they may play nearby if they tire of yoga.  They will tire of yoga, but will stay right by your side, taunting and pleading for snacks and your attention.
  • Scan your body for areas of tension.  Notice the up-tick in your blood pressure as your children attempt acrobatics off the couch onto the yoga mats.
  • Do not abandon your practice before it is finished.  You came here to find inner peace and relax, dammit.


Has a massage ever brought you to tears?

Tears that spring out of nowhere at the release of tension you didn’t even know you had.

The line between physical and psychic stress often blurs.

We often operate at such a high level of continuous stress that it doesn’t even register unless we disturb the flow.

A few months ago, my father and I attended Tai Chi classes.  It was something he had wanted to try for quite some time.  I found a class offered at the community center in my town and we went.  I was used to the gentle flow of yoga, which the instructor told me is a cousin to Tai Chi, but this required an even higher level of calm and restraint.  With my high-strung, perpetually-on-a-treadmill ways, it was a stretch of a different kind.  I told myself to slow down as my cloud hands swept across the room, but it was something long since foreign to my body.

At one of the sessions, our teacher led us through a meditation we’d never done before.  I didn’t know how relaxed I could get without lying prostrate on the floor, but I dutifully took my breaths and moved my hands – and started to cry.

It was not a bad day.  I did not feel overly stressed, anxious, or upset.  And yet, once I allowed my body and mind to slow, the pressure slack, the excess overflowed.

I wanted to kiss this little old lady for releasing my five elements.

But I need to channel my own little old lady.  I cannot look outside for inner contentment.  I must make the time to stretch in the morning, to adjust my posture, to make a mental scan of my body and release the tension.

I need to be more self-aware and body-aware so that a small chink in the dam doesn’t lead to a crazy rush of water I didn’t even know was collecting.  It shouldn’t take a breach to make me notice the physical, mental, and emotional stress I’m holding.

My mental and physical health should be about maintenance, not damage control.


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