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- Children's Growth & Development
Yoga So Simple Even Your Child, Or Husband, Can Join In
Enjoy the Benefits of Thousands of Years of Wisdom
Yoga has been around for thousands of years - it is tried, tested and true. Few tools are more useful, I find, for dealing with life -- including parenting, marriage, family, other relationships, career, health, and emotions and stressors of all kinds. In addition, yoga is a pathway to greater humor, spirituality, and joy.
My toddler participates with me in simple yoga poses on a single mat, including Push-Pull Pose.
To do this easy pose, sit on the floor and face your child. Both of you stretch your legs out in a V-shape and clasp hands. Keep your backs straight as you gently take turns pulling each other forward and back. This gives a great stretch in your back and legs. Don’t worry if your kid’s attention wanders -- you are setting up the benefits of a more patient yoga mind that will develop over time and help your child throughout his or her life.
Include Your Husband or Partner...
My husband sees that I am calmer, more fit, and more joyful thanks to practicing yoga. He approves of sharing yoga with our son so that he will enjoy the benefits as well. My husband even feels that yoga might spare kids like our son from being diagnosed with common issues like A.D.D. and A.D.H.D.
I had been enjoying the bonding, laughter, and physical process of yoga so much with my child that I began to think, “hey, if my toddler can do this...I wonder if my husband could?”
...But Start Simple!
Start simple and small in practicing yoga with child and husband alike, attempting just a few poses in a session.
Persevere and Keep a Sense of Humor
You can imagine parallels between attempting yoga with your child and attempting yoga with your husband. At first, both may be distracted and not particularly convinced that yoga is useful. They might be impatient to catch CNN or Dora (The Explorer).
But both might find that after doing the physical action of the yoga poses, their minds follow their bodies to a quieter, more centered state they grow to crave and rely upon.
My weight lifter, Mixed Martial Arts-practicing husband has come to enjoy how yoga improves his concentration and flexibility. My kid likes making animal poses. Or was it the other way around?
Deep Breathing Through the Nose: Pranayama Breath
Here is a useful beginner exercise. It involves a concept that remains crucial throughout a lifetime of practicing yoga.
Sit cross-legged with your partner and rest your hands on your knees. Breathe through the nose slowly and deeply.
This is a deceptively simple exercise that cuts to the most important part of yoga practice. Breathing through the nose is critical because the nose filters out pathogens. Breathing deeply for a few minutes is helpful because it teaches you to take in more oxygen. Most people’s breathing is too shallow, and the limited amount of oxygen adversely affects health and well-being. Your toddler may only be able to sit still for a few breaths, but his or her patience may improve over time.
Continue practicing breathing through the nose as you explore different yoga poses, and keep a playful attitude!
Half Hand-Stand and Downward Facing Dog Pose
This pose can be practiced with adults and with children above toddler size. Start with both people on all fours, facing opposite directions and touching feet. Both of you push up, straightening legs and arms, into Downward Dog. Have your partner raise one leg at a time so that the tops of his or her feet are on your bottom. Hold this pose for a few moments. Then you can switch positions. Keep backs and legs straight to strengthen your stomach muscles and arms.
Back to Back Bend Pose
This pose is a good chest-opener and improves posture for your child or hubby, and it is an excellent lengthener for your lower back. Kneel down and stretch your arms forward to the ground, pressing your chest to your thighs. Have your partner lie on his or her back on top of your back, waist-to-waist. If you are practicing with your child, your child’s arms can dangle freely, as can his or her feet (you can use your arms to hold your child in place if necessary).
Benefits of Yoga for Children and Everyone
*Yoga is non-competitive and allows children and adults to progress at their own pace towards their personal best.
*Yoga promotes lifelong benefits such as improved concentration, relaxation, balance, focus, vitality, energy, health and even confidence.
*Yoga can be infinitely modified to suit any body at any age or health condition.
*Yoga is even used to treat issues ranging from depression to A.D.D. and autism.
Yoga Practice is Lifelong
Remember, never become impatient with your yoga practice. Yoga is a lifelong practice which we never perfect. Be playful and just enjoy yourself as you explore the poses. You may find, as I did, that practicing yoga with your loved ones is fun, funny, spiritual, and satisfying.
Enjoy a few laughs as you bond with your beloveds!
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