Ground Families That Flow Together Grow Together Whether a few rounds of Cat-Cow (with animal noises!), or a full-on kid-friendly class, family yoga makes us stronger in body and mind—together. By Deven Sisler Photo by Neil Gandhi If the purpose of yoga is to become awake in the present moment, then children are inherently yogis in training. With the correct encouragement and focus they are easily fully engaged, no matter their age. We can harness their intrinsic desire to move and curious imaginations to use yoga postures as an opportunity for a fun game of “make believe,” and also to move in ways that are beneficial for the body and mind. Yoga can help alleviate growing pains, build self-trust, self-awareness, ability to focus, balancing skills, confidence, and release anxiety, so that we can support the next generation to be holistically balanced adults. Attending adult yoga classes with qualified teachers, in addition to getting a babysitter, can be financially inaccessible for many families. Yoga classes for the whole family, however, offer the opportunity for children and parents alike to relax, strengthen, have fun, and get fit together, and can be done at home or a local studio. Parents who are new to yoga have the powerful opportunity to model learning and play. Committing to five minutes of yoga with your family each day will help you feel better in your body and teach your child to prioritize fitness. The positive results of yoga can be exponential when families practice together. Begin with the breath. Yoga is the union of the breath with movement, so beginning with a mindful breathing technique is the perfect place to start and can help calm the nervous system when you get upset, or are getting ready for bed. Make believe you have a big straw, slurp up some air through the imaginary straw, then blow it out slowly. Repeat three times, then let your hands rest over your own heart. Close your eyes and notice how you feel. Yoga is about moving the body, but it is just as much about positive, compassionate thinking. Repeat this phrase, call-and-response-style, with your child: “May all beings everywhere be happy and peaceful. May I be happy and peaceful.” Ask your child what they think this phrase means to him or her. Put it into practice. These simple movements can be practiced one at a time, or strung together with breath or sound. Cat-Cow Stretch Start on hands and knees. Let your belly drop down into Cow. Inhale, then round your spine towards the sky into Cat. Exhale, arch back into Cow. Inhale. Then send your hips back to your heels towards Child’s Pose, aka Little Mouse. Exhale, inhale, then slither forward onto your belly and arch up into a Snake. Exhale, inhale. Place your hands underneath your shoulders and lift your hips to the sky for Downward Dog. Let your dog wiggle. Exhale, inhale. Repeat this sequence 2–3 times and allow younger children to watch. Make the animal sounds to encourage their sense of play. Half Sun Salutation Mountain Pose (inhale) Forward Fold (exhale) Half Lift (inhale) Forward Fold (exhale) Mountain Pose (inhale) To entertain and engage younger children, try singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” while you flow through the poses. Try these partner yoga poses with your child: Curious for more? Learn about becoming a teacher of children’s yoga and AcroYoga for families, visit YamiYogi.com. — A senior certified AcroYoga teacher Deven is known for her joyful, playful approach to partnership and collaboration, and her articulate teaching. An E-RYT 200 and CRYT yoga teacher, she has trained with international master teachers for the past 12 years in yoga, thai massage, and acrobatics. An outdoor enthusiast, she weaves her experience and on and off the mat into creative, relaxing and inspiring classes for adults, children and families. Her perspective through the lens of yoga and acrobatics heightens kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness; it cultivates trust, communication and community building. She offers a holistic approach to exploring biomechanics and the subtle body through movement, sound and her training in Body-Mind Centering.