I wrote Nurturing Your Family With Yoga to show you how family yoga can play a key role in bringing peace, happiness and harmony to your home.
Parents often ask me how to get started with a family yoga practice and these are some of my top tips.
· Children are natural mimics and your own yoga practice will inspire them the most. My children love to practise with me, particularly if they can sit on top of or underneath me! Your own practice will also give you patience, perspective and a creative outlook when sharing yoga with your children.
· Make your family yoga practice light-hearted and don’t put any pressure on your children to practise at a certain time or in a specific way. It’s important to remember that you can begin with just one pose or a single breath in and out. Make it simple and know that you are planting the seeds that will hopefully grow into a lifelong love of yoga for your children.
· Children enjoy making up their own versions of yoga poses. Encourage their creativity and enjoyment as they explore what their bodies can do.
· Children love balancing poses. Tree and Dancer are fun for younger children and Crow is a great challenge for older children. See how long your children can balance in Tree while brushing their teeth. Hold hands in Dancer and notice how this helps you balance for longer than if you were on your own.
· Many of the yoga poses are named after animals or inspired by nature. Support the development of your children’s imaginations as they roar in Lion pose, croak in Frog pose, flutter in Butterfly pose or leap up high in Volcano pose. Being able to visualise and create mental imagery has been shown to reduce anxiety and resilience in children. So you will be supporting their mental health at the same time as having lots of fun.
· Sharing simple breathing exercises with your children is an incredibly effective way to help them when they are feeling overwhelmed by their feelings and emotions. You will be giving them a gift for life, as they learn how to steady their own breath and mind.
· Partner yoga is a good way for siblings to practise yoga together and it is an opportunity for you to praise your children for being kind, considerate and respectful towards each other.
· If your children are interested in sports you can explain to them that many top athletes practise yoga to increase their flexibility, to strengthen and stretch their muscles and to improve their performance both physically and mentally. Yoga is a great way for your children to warm up before playing their own sports and to cool down afterwards.
Our children grow up so quickly. We can easily get caught up in the rush of looking after them and miss the miracle of childhood as it unfolds. A family yoga practice, however simple, will give you the space to be calm and quiet together. This will strengthen the bond and mutual respect between all family members both now and in the future. It will also support good mental, physical and emotional health for you all through your lives.
Dr Kiki Morriss is the author of Nurturing Your Family With Yoga (Pinter & Martin/£16.99) – on sale now
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