I didn’t find yoga until I was in my late twenties.
I’d never imagine it would have been a game-changer if I had found it sooner.
I have two kids now and I’ve incorporated some form of “yoga” into their lives since the very beginning.
Yoga isn’t just asana, the physical practice. Yoga is about being the best version of yourself, living a life that is rooted in truthfulness and non-violence.
It is about finding yourself through your breath, your thoughts, and especially your actions.
A question that people often ask is, how do I incorporate these practices into my parenting and gift them to my children if I’m not a yogi, yoga teacher, or anything within that realm?
The good news is that you don’t need to be a master meditator or a yogi to teach your children about mindfulness, breathing, non-violence, and movement. Kids don’t do as we say, they do as we do.
I chose to parent a little differently than many. We don’t use punishments. This felt like the first step in living a life of nonviolence.
They are allowed the freedom to mess up, but to also make amends. They are given the choice to make decisions based on empathy and considering how someone else might feel, as opposed to making decisions based on a fear of consequences.
This way of life might not be for everyone, but there are so many other ways to introduce your children to yoga.
Utilize the resources available to you, many of which are free.
When I first started doing yoga, I had no idea how to teach this practice to my children when I had no idea what I was doing myself.
So we turned to other resources. We love Cosmic Kids Yoga videos on YouTube that have animations and a wonderful British woman narrating. We have some yoga flash cards that are designed for children.
And we check out books from the library that are focused on poses that let kids act like animals and get silly. Utilize the resources available to you, many of which are free.
We hold space for big emotions
For me, yoga is about creating space within ourselves and for others. When my children are having meltdowns or are upset from hurt feelings, I hold space for their experience.
Allowing our children to experience that full range of emotions without labeling certain ones as “bad” or “unacceptable” will give them freedom to acknowledge grief and pain as they grow older, rather than stuffing it down. Isn’t that what showing up on our yoga mat is all about?
Allowing ourselves to come just as we are, regardless of how messy that might be.
No, you don’t have to light incense and sit on the ground for extended amounts of time to meditate with your children (or by yourself).
Meditation is about quieting the mind and being present. It’s about noticing, noticing your body and breath, but also noticing life around you in a meaningful way.
Although we do meditate with incense or sage on occasion, we also meditate by taking a quiet walk through the forest.
We listen for life, from the sounds of buzzing and crawling by our feet, to the rustle of leaves in the wind, to the songs that the birds are singing that day.
Introducing your children to yoga can be as simple as those three things:
1) practicing mindful movements together
2) holding space for big emotions
3) finding stillness in our lives and in our mind.
If you have really young kids, make it fun and keep things simple. You don’t have to say the words right, or do certain physical poses.
All we have to do is be our authentic selves and show up. Our kids will learn and grow because they’ll see us learning and growing.