Try this Parent/Child Partner Yoga Sequence to Strengthen the Ties that Bond
Parenting is a balancing act. Throw in work, conflicting schedules, and attempts at any kind of self-care, and you are spinning what feel like multiple plates, juggling multiple balls, while walking on a tightrope.
Whatever metaphor works best, finding time to really connect with your child can be a challenge. Often it feels like the time you do have together is spent on homework, rule setting, doling out appropriate consequences, making meals, or driving places. You can find yourself asking, “What happened to quality time?”
Being a single, working mother of 3 kids, who are now tweens, I often feel like we are all just passing ships, and I ask myself the same question. What I wish is for a retreat or month long vacation to just “be” with my kids, but of course reality doesn’t allow for that. What I have discovered is that carving out just a few minutes, 3-4 times a week, for a little family yoga and mindfulness, goes a long way to help us unwind, reconnect, and laugh a little, and creating some bonding time while reinforcing the tools that get us through our day when apart. Here’s how you can do it too.
Pick a time:
Any “quality” time spent with your family shouldn’t be forced and shouldn’t feel like an inconvenience. Perhaps there’s a moment you’ve noticed that might work for 10 minutes or so. Before sitting down to dinner or just before bed or right after bath time. There are moments of transition that can be stretched to fit in a little connection. Getting your kids involved in choosing a time is also really helpful. It immediately sets up some ownership and can feel more like something you are all establishing together, making it even more special.
Set the tone:
Now that you have all carved out a time. Setting the tone can make practicing together feel like fun and calm. Perhaps you begin with a moment of wiggling to get the sillies out or use a hoberman sphere for breathing or a bell to ring to help focus and calm. Especially for older children, acknowledging that this may all feel different and funny and that’s okay but your intention is to feel funny together to spend a bit of time can set a unifying tone.
Okay we’ve got time and place and atmosphere now let’s practice! Try this short sequence and feel free to have little ones sit in your lap or do things as partners, laugh, fall down, leave things out and do your own thing. This is merely a way to begin.
Start in easy pose, legs crossed comfortably sitting up nice and tall and place hands on your bellies. Imagine you are smelling your favorite thing (I like cookies out of the oven) and inhale deeply through the nose. Then exhale as if blowing out a candle. Keep this going for a few rounds, feeling the rise and fall of the belly playing with the length and strength of the exhale until you feel your mind and body relaxing.
When practicing it’s fun to be opposite one another so your child can mirror you and also check in with lots of smiles and eye contact. Come to hands and knees and practice a little cat/cow. Arch your back and look up at the sky while breathing in and then MOOOOO in cow.
Tuck your chin, round your back and look between your knees as you exhale MEOW in cat.
Warming up your body with a few rounds. Lift your hips and come into down downward facing dog. Palms flat on the ground, fingertips facing forward, arms straight and strong. Wag your tail.
From here go through a sun salutation. If you feel up to throwing on a little music Kyra Wiley’s “Dance for the Sun” is a great one or let your child pick their own mellow tune.
Stand up in mountain pose with hands by your heart nice and tall.
Reach up high grab the sun and fold over your legs.
Hold onto your shins and look up lengthening your back and then fold back over.
Step back into a plank.
Lower to the belly and push your arms into the ground arching your upper back for cobra. Hisssssss.
Come back into downward dog and then jump your feet to your hands in a squat for frog pose. Do a couple of frog jumps!
Fold back over your legs and then come on up slowly reaching your hands back into the sky. End by bringing your hands back to your heart.
End this short practice with a bit of relaxation. Lie down on your backs and relax your bodies. Place hands on bellies and breathe slowly in and out just like you did when you began. This is again a beautiful way to rest and reconnect. Calm and peaceful together. Feel free to hold hands, or let your child place his head on your belly. Sync up your breathing…snuggle.
When you are ready to bring this time to an end be sure to throw in a Namaste (meaning ”I bow to you” in Sanskrit) a thank you, or a hug, some acknowledgement of yourself and your child and what is special about you both. You have made time, you have done something wonderful for yourself, your child and your relationship. It’s short, it’s sweet and this little routine goes a long way.
Susan Verde is currently living in East Hampton, New York with her twin boys Joshua and Gabriel and her daughter Sophia where she writes children’s books and teaches kid’s yoga and mindfulness. Her children, her practice and the ocean at her doorstep keep her constantly connected and inspired. She is the author of the picture books The Museum, You and Me, I Am Yoga, The Water Princess, and the forthcoming book, “My Kicks,” (due for release in April of 2017