Since I took my first Kidding Around Yoga Teacher Training in January of 2012, I have pretty much lived and breathed Kidding Around Yoga much of the time. As you may have read in others’ testimonies as well as my own, this training pretty much changed my life. Not just because I learned a new skill or how to run my own at-home traveling yoga business, but because it changed my mindset, my perspective, and my attitude towards so many things. Sure, I was in my 200-hr Hatha Yoga Teacher Training and that changed things too; but it was THIS training that changed me and my entire family.
My son was three years old when I took this training, and that was the age when it was still “cool” to do yoga with Mommy. He still does it some, but after two years of running to classes with me and having me always doing “yoga work”… I have to be a little bit more creative in how I get him involved. We have instituted a “family meditation time” each morning where no one is allowed into anyone else’s room (mainly Alden isn’t allowed into ours) until we have either sat for prayer and meditation time or we are all out of our rooms. It has helped with the early morning moods for sure! So, while at five-and-a-half, Alden may not understand the depths of what this practice means, but I am hopeful that the seeds for a lifelong discipline are being planted.
Plus, my firefighting, rugby playing, Army husband has even begun to dabble in and see the merits of meditation. That alone thrills my soul. Nurturing a relationship is very difficult on a normal day, and nurturing a relationship when there are differing values and practices is a REAL challenge. Thankfully, my husband has seen how a yoga practice—and specifically a Kidding Around Yoga teaching practice—has changed me for the better. He has always been completely supportive of any addition of yoga to our family home.
Many of our teachers have used the KAY methods with their own families, and some have taken the training for that reason alone. It is because they work. Children are stressed, adults are stressed, and you could put those together for one STRESSED out family! OR you can choose to teach children mindfulness, patience, how to use affirmations and meditation as a calming tool, how to stay connected to their inner child, help them not be afraid to move their bodies in new and silly (and FUN) ways, and how to really let go and relax.
Just using the words “Let Go” cued the lyrics from the movie Frozen’s song “Let it Go” and I almost cried from hearing it so much. However, teaching our children to be their true self and let go of fear is one of the most important things we can do as parents. Recently, my son was afraid of something he had coming up in his week, and he began to ask what fear was. Before I could really get out an answer (as I was mindfully considering what to say), he said the wisest thing: “Mommy, I know what fear is. Fear is that feeling that keeps people from doing what they really love. Fear keeps them from doing what they know they can or should do. I love LOVE, so why would I choose to be afraid?” I was completely silent for a moment. I could not believe the wisdom my little “baby” held at just five years old. I told him I don’t know why we let fear rule us. What does this have to do with yoga? Everything. My son knows how to slow his mind and body down enough to connect with real feelings and emotions. This is something many adults spend years in counseling trying to do. Because we have taught him to be in tune with his body, to listen, and to speak his truth, he has a connection to himself and to God that many of us try to “find” in our thirties, forties, and fifties. He recognizes at this age that praying is talking to God, and meditation is listening. Took me until age thirty to get that!
While raising a KAY Family can certainly be full of fun moments like singing “Really Stinky Feet” when one person takes off their Keen sandals after a day outdoors or breaking out “Yoga Nagila” at a family wedding, it can also add a level of spiritual, physical, and mental discipline to your family’s health that will take them through their lifetime. I have been singing the “Lokah Lullaby” to Alden since he was teeny, and before Haris even produced the song (mine isn’t nearly as good of course). I believe that mantra chose him, or he chose it, and it has brought him nightly comfort for at least three years.
One thing I suggest to try that one of our first teachers, Cassie Dixon, does is to use a Talking Stick in the car to share about your days. It keeps the interruptions to a minimum in what can be a tiring and stressful time of day. This practice also teaches listening skills and helps teach our children the practice of asteya, or non-stealing, because we are encouraging them to wait their turn rather than “steal” someone else’s spotlight. Another thing Kidding Around Yoga has done to make raising a KAY Family even easier is we’ve now produced our own DVD! You can purchase it here, and hopefully everywhere in the near future!
Just know that even if your children turn up their noses at doing yoga with you at certain ages and stages, having your own practice and weaving this into daily life will stay with them forever. They will most likely return to it one day if they stray, or at least adapt it to fit their lifestyle. I see it as slowly filling my children’s toolboxes. By the time they leave my nest, they will be fully stocked and prepared to handle, not the world necessarily, but their OWN selves in the context of this world. That’s all we can hope for—responsible, peaceful, loving children to grow into responsible, peaceful, loving adults who are aware of their own Truth.
“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”