Change the world with family yoga
Quality Time in Family Yoga
In a world where parents and children are so busy, family yoga provides a wonderful place to spend healthy and happy, quality time together.
In family yoga practice without the distraction of mobile phones, iPads, TV and other duties. Its just you and your children. You might be surprised that this doesn’t happen often in this day and age.
Family is so important, time and care are needed to nurture it and make it work. Yoga is perfect for this! Children, parents, guardians and grandparents can enjoy practicing yoga together to strengthen their bonds whilst supporting each other and having fun.
There are very few activities for parents and children to do together. I many children’s extra curricular activities, the parents drop their children off and come back after an hour, or sit and watch. There is no parent/ child interaction.
Family yoga is different!
The Importance of Play
Parents are in a constant struggle to juggle responsibilities, with numerous things they need to do to care for their children; making sure that they eat, sleep, get to school and their other activities on time, organising their social schedule, watching that their children don’t hurt each other.
Being so busy with telling children what to do and what not to do, many parents have become way too serious. This is my favourite thing about family yoga, it teaches parents how to play!
The most common response we hear from parents after a family yoga class is that things are different at home now, and everything is more playful and fun!
Bridging The Gap
Family yoga is very special; it’s a rare opportunity for both parents and children to observe and learn from each other and a great way to bridge the huge age difference.
While playing yoga together as a family, we exchange rolls a lot. For example, while doing downward dog pose, parents, who are usually the leaders, get to be led on a dog walk by their children. Children, who are usually the receivers, get to give to their parents when they massage them whilst in relaxation.
Parents get to see how their children learn and how they interact with other children and adults. And children get to see their parents as learners, something that doesn’t happen very often, setting a great example for their children.
Until a certain age children think that their parents are superhuman; that they never get tired, never run out of time or money, and that there is nothing that they can’t do. It’s good for children to realise that their parents are not perfect.
There are many poses that the children can do and the parents can’t, and some activities that the children can do better than the parents. This humanises the parent and eases the pressure that their children’s expectations can create.
In addition to all of the other great benefits of yoga, all of these gestures help to relieve tension in the parent/child relationship.
When Teaching Family Yoga we Emphasise Bringing People Together
To feel alive and nurtured, to feel that we have found our place in this world, we need to feel connected. Sometimes we are so far apart even when we are seated next to each other; have you seen family dinners where everyone is on their mobile phone, disconnected from each other.
We need family yoga to help us reclaim our closeness. That’s the mission, to connect people. Group and partner poses are all about creating connection.
During family yoga we do as many group and partner poses as we can. The time parents and children have together is precious. We don’t waste this time doing individual poses. We make sure that they physically touch and connect in every pose. It’s transformative and always more fun to do yoga together.
You can find ways to connect in all poses; facing each other, one behind the other, back to back, side by side, one on top of the other and holding hands. In most poses it is easy to adjust the size difference between parents and children. Some poses where we are one on top of the other might only work with children on top.
Most poses can be done in little groups or parents can partner with their children. It doesn’t matter if there is an odd number there is always a way in family yoga.
We bring these loving gestures into family yoga time
- Looking into each other’s eyes
- Coordinating the breath
- Physical contact
- Holding hands
- Massaging each other
- Sharing experiences
- Positive feedback
- Teaching each other
- Supporting each other in balancing poses
- Helping each other stretch
- Laughter and smiles
- During the final relaxation, the children can lie down side by side with their parents, holding hands, or even on top of their parents
- Waking each other from relaxations with hugs and kisses
- Whispering beautiful things in each other ears
The communication skills and loving connections we develop during the safe and relaxed atmosphere of the family yoga class will go a long way in serving the family during stressful times. Family yoga is a great gift to the world.
Parents Aren’t Neglected in Family Yoga
Parents are people too, they want to be appreciated and recognised as individuals. Make sure to cherish them and value them, they deserve it very much. Parents work so hard and rarely get the recognition they deserve. Praise them, it will be a breath of fresh air for them in a world where they often criticised.
During family yoga we care for parents by
- Calling them by their own name, never by their child’s name: Amanda and not Zoe’s mom.
- Tell them how beautiful they are progressing in their yoga, and how awesome they are for coming to family yoga with their children. Parents don’t usually get enough positive feedback from anyone. They will be all yours if you keep telling them that they are doing a great job.
- Show them ways to help and support their children in the poses.
- Give them variations in the poses to make it more comfortable or challenging to fit their abilities.
- Tell them a lot about the benefits of the yoga poses so that they’ll know how great it is for them and for their children.
- Help the parents to be calm and playful; this will go a long way in facilitating the same feelings in their children. It’s fun to be silly, and it provides a great release for serious adults just as much as it does for children.
- Focus a lot on the interaction between parents and their children, complimenting the parents about how wonderful it is to see the family so close together.
Becoming a mum and dad can be an isolating experience. Sometimes it involves moving to a new place, having a new job or no job, everyone around you is busy and you are double busy now with children. Family yoga is an opportunity to meet other parents and create a new community of like minded people.
Parents come to family yoga not just for the yoga but also for the social element. Investing time and effort in connecting people in class is worth the investment.
Teaching Tips for Building Community and Creating Friendships in Family Yoga Classes
- Come before the class and stay after. Create the space and time for people to connect on a personal level
- Connect the parents through social media or by email, with permission
- Encourage conversation and discussion between parents in your class about parenthood, sharing ideas and helping each other out
Help make this world a better place with family yoga in your community.
Gopala Amir Yaffa
Founder of Rainbow Yoga & The Rainbow Centre