These are busy times in my household. For starters, what used to be a warm and cozy place has become a construction zone. We have evidence of home renovation everywhere: tools, supplies, tradesmen and women—we are living in and amongst the chaos.
But, to be fair, it was a little chaotic to begin with: Our two children are young, I juggle multiple projects (aside from freelance writing), my kids have little childcare (one day a week), and my husband works full-time. It’s a bit of a circus.
The upside of living through the noise that comes with gutting and renovating a home is that my 1-year-old son has become amazing at sleeping through anything and enjoys a long nap in the afternoons. This is the time of day when my daughter and I have developed the beautiful habit of practicing 15 minutes of yoga with each other. Keep in mind my daughter has just turned three. So this is a very simple practice, but it is an essential pause in our day that has helped make these hectic times seem peaceful and incredibly enjoyable.
A lot of children, including my own, like routine. So we always practice the same postures in the same order. I try and keep things simple and safe and I allow her to elaborate on the postures. She loves to add her own variations and often helps a doll or teddy do the practice with us.
When we first started together, she would lose interest quite quickly. But slowly, and with repetition, I am watching a little yogi unfold in front of me. I also had to shift my mindset from trying to go completely within—as I would in a normal practice—to finding that gentle balance of enjoying the calm and rejuvenating feeling I get from doing yoga at home, while taking great pleasure in giving my daughter the gift of yoga.
After starting with some big, calming breaths together, our basic series is as follows:
- Downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)
- Cobra pose (salabhasana)
- Tree pose (vriksasana)
- Handstand against the wall (adho mukha vrksasana)
- Childs pose (balasana)
- Corpse pose (shavasana)
I remind myself that the chores will still be there, the talking on my phone can wait, and everything can be put on hold to carve out this 15 minutes of unbelievably special time with my daughter.
But, as you know, sometimes it’s hard to stay focused and motivated with our yoga practice—even as adults. So I have six tried and true tips to share when going to the mat with your kid:
- Provide your child with his or her own mat. If this is an old mat of yours, or even if it isn’t a hand-me-down, let them make it their own by decorating it and maybe storing it in their own room or play space.
- Start very slow with little expectations. We started our daily practice by holding hands on our mats and taking big breaths together.
- Let them be creative in their postures. Alignment isn’t crucial at this age. My daughter relates every pose to an animal.
- Be consistent. Do the same poses in the same order any given day.
- Be cautious. This goes without saying, but I don’t do any postures where if I fall out, I could fall on my child (i.e. handstands or arm balances in the middle of the room). We do, however, do handstands together on the wall. Or, if no wall is available, I just spot her.
- TLC for all. Just like adult yogis, treat little yogis with care. A little snack post-yoga with water and maybe some quiet time helps seal the practice before life resumes again.
Photo courtesy Jane Emerick
Jane Emerick is a travel writing momma and yogi adventurer. From the top of the mountain to the depths of the sea and everything in between, find Jane on her snowboard, skis, surfboard, or bike any given day. A self-proclaimed “unorganized Mom,” Jane is a hippy at heart who loves to explore. She teaches yoga and has a background in marketing and writing. Follow Jane on Instagram, or her blog: jumpsuitjane.wordpress.com.