“Mama, can we go do some yoga?”
This little phrase is now a regular utterance at my house. But that wasn’t always the case. There was a time when I couldn’t get my love of yoga to rub off on my kids – no matter how much I requested or pushed.
It made no sense to me. How could they not love this practice that I found so fun? How could they see me practicing yoga ALL THE TIME, and not want to join in?
And then one day, I watched my children playing outside. As they moved from one shape to the next, all without premeditation or consideration, it hit me:
Kids don’t need to practice yoga. Their entire day is yoga.
Movement and mindfulness are a child’s normal way of being. For adults, not so much. At some point along the way, we lose our connection to self and the present moment. We have to “practice” finding it on our yoga mats.
Now, instead of inviting my children into my yoga practice, I step into theirs.
I don’t set yoga apart as a special, separate part of the day. I roll out a mat while we are playing and start moving. I let go of expectations and let them join as they like and leave as they like.
The result? They love yoga. They get excited when I roll out my mat because I’m going to be on the floor, connecting with them. Don’t believe me?
For those of you that would like to invite yoga into your days, here are 5 tips for doing yoga with kids.
1. Connection over Perfection.
Don’t waste a single moment correcting your child’s form or trying to teach them the right way to do a pose. This is your chance to have fun and foster a love of movement and yoga in your child. Don’t let the notion of “right” and “wrong” stand in the way of connection.
2. Keep it short!
Things go downhill after 10 minutes or so. If you hope to get your own full yoga practice in, think again.
3. Play With Advanced Poses.
Children’s bodies are incredibly strong and flexible. My daughter can pop up into a headstand and throw herself into a wheel pose without thinking. And she thinks they are FUN, not SCARY. Play with these poses with your child. She’ll be more engaged in the experience. You’ll learn to approach them with more levity.
4. Be Flexible.
There will be days when your kid is SO NOT INTO yoga. That’s ok. Cut it short if it isn’t working. End on a positive note (like a cuddly savasana together).
5. Practice Breath.
Take a few deep breaths together at some point in the practice. You’ll give your child a tool they can come back to again and again when they need to relax and manage stress.
What are you waiting for? Go roll out that mat!