So, you made it. 2017 Holiday season is in the books and you’re ready for a new start! Did you make any resolutions? I know for me, one of my main goals is to be more mindful and present with my kids. I have two toddlers, aged 2, 3, and a teenager…yeah, I know. Holy Crap. I made lots of promises to myself this year regarding my parenting and incorporating Yoga daily with my kids, and most days- it just did not happen.
How do you do it? How do you stay “mindful” with your children? What does that mean, exactly? It is well known that the one thing Yoga teaches us for ALL ages is how to remain in the present and be mindful. We do this by focusing on our breath and on what is happening with our body and consciousness right in this exact moment. When we do this there is no room for any other thoughts or plans or reflections in our mind other than right now. Often times after class, we feel great. It was awesome to not have your mind race about the day before or tomorrow or next week. We feel refreshed and calmer. This same benefit is also available to your children. Kids need Yoga. Period. At this point, it’s not even a debate. Our kids are stressed out just as much as we are stressed out. School, Social Media, Socialization, Team Practice, Sports, Hobbies…the list is endless.
One way to help be mindful with your kids is by practicing Yoga TOGETHER. If they are old enough, take them to a class with you. If they are younger, like my two toddlers, do it at home together. Make a goal for 10-15 minutes everyday arrive at your mat for some Kid & Me Yoga sessions. It doesn’t have to be perfect or complicated. Small short sequences that gets the blood flowing, body moving, and some mental focus happening. I guarantee within the first five minutes you will both forget about the long day ahead if you practice in the morning or the long day tomorrow if evening time is your jam. There are some immediate benefits you will notice in your child, which are a lighter mood, and a bond that lingers long after the session has ended. Other benefits will accumulate over time with greater focus in school work, constructive response to chronic and acute stressors, and improved self esteem.
The hidden beauty of mindfulness and practicing Yoga together is that it inherently gives a person self-empowerment. It allows liberation through pranayama (breath work), and mudra (hand gestures designed to change the rhythm of neurotransmitters in the brain) as tools to combat negative thoughts and feelings. Naturally, it teaches children kindness and body awareness. By giving our kids these tools through what seemingly appears as exercise and play time, you are actually educating them about themselves on a level that is otherwise hard to reach because it is self-guided by them but encouraged by you.
In this upcoming New Year, teach your children Pranayama. Do it with them and let them see it. Instruct them that these tools can be used to calm ourselves down, and reboot. Teach short meditations and encourage they use it before tests, games, practice etc… If they have trouble sleeping due to racing thoughts or just the adrenaline dump from the day, take the mats out and do a short night time flow with a long savasana at the end. It will be incredibly beneficial to you, and to them without much effort put into it.
If you have toddlers, they dig Yoga! They are naturals at it. This age they want to be by you and do everything with you anyway, so why not make it fun? The skills taught through play will cement itself into their memories and brains and the same lessons will be taught. Kids learn through play, and Yoga is like play time because it’s FUN. As long as we are engaging them through these activities of mindfulness and pranayama they will take these tools throughout their life and call upon them whenever they need it. My girls now use deep, 3-part breathing to calm down from a tantrum or if something is making them feel fearful (ex: watching something on the YouTube rabbit hole they go down that they should not have seen). I use every trick I have learned in my Yoga training and practice in my parenting role time and time again.
So, with 2018 now here, I challenge you to be Mindful with your children and to use Yoga as one way to accomplish that goal. I challenge you to be present every time you remind yourself of it, to sit in it, and hold space for that moment. Revel in your practice and take joy in sharing that practice with your family- particularly your children.
Here’s to you, wishing you the happiest and healthiest mindful New Years!
200hr RYT certification / Kids Yoga certified / Restorative Yoga certification / Trauma Healing Yoga certified
At Ignite Yoga, we believe that yoga is for everyone–For people of all ages and all walks of life.