We often talk about self-care and why it is important to practice it, but we fail to mention that it is beneficial for the people around us, too! When it comes to yoga, it is a definite form of self-care. It allows us to take care of our physical body through movement, but it also gets us emotionally and mentally fit. The only downfall I often see? Our kids don’t see this example of self-care. They hear us say, “I am going to my yoga class now” or “I went to yoga the other day”, but they don’t see our practice regularly. And what’s more-they don’t practice it with us.
Part of modeling self-care is showing our children what that looks like. Obviously part of self-care is the ability to get away, spend some time with ourselves, and recharge. However, I encourage you to occasionally practice yoga with your child as part of your rejuvenation routine. Here are some ways to practice with your child that will leave you both/all feeling refreshed and relaxed.
1. Start with a meditation! Find a mantra together that you like and sit comfortably. Together, say the mantra or sing it. Repeat this mantra in a rhythm. You can touch each finger to your thumbs, use a beaded necklace, or hold hands and take turns saying the mantra aloud. Maybe you both have had a stressful few weeks with end of year tests or preparations with summer. Find a mantra that helps you ease these stresses away and explain that taking care of ourselves is to train our brains and hearts to repeat thoughts and ideas that will help us.
2. Move on to breathing exercises together. Put all of your worries or stress into bubbles, pretend or real! Count each other’s’ breaths. Count to two breathing in and count to four breathing out. You can put your hands on your belly or use a favorite doll while you lie down. Talk about how breathing is critical to staying alive and that we can teach our bodies to not get stressed when we can control our breath.
3. Play fun yoga games. Pretend to be animals on a farm or at the zoo. Make their noises and do the poses. Stretch your back and legs. Do the poses together, like partner boat! Explain how stretching and moving our bodies is important in keeping us happy and healthy. Ask your child how stretching feels on their body. You might get a good laugh!
4. End your practice with a deep relaxation. Cuddle up together and listen to a guided meditation. Scratch your child’s back to help them relax. You do not have to explain anything. Just let your practice move into silence. Model how to become like a soft, cooked noodle. Stay here for however long you need! Being able to relax with your child is important because you are providing them a space that is safe and you are getting moments of quiet as well so that you can bond!
Practicing yoga with your child can be wonderful exercise in self-care and is an excellent way to model how beneficial it is!