No matter your age, physical agility or spiritual background, everyone can benefit from a yoga practice. Kids learn self-regulation, how to listen to their bodies and grow in strength, confidence and flexibility. For senior citizens, yoga classes help improve balance, ease joint pain, increases oxygen intake, calms anxiety, and may provide much needed social interaction. And the best part? Grandparents (or even great grandparents) can easily practice yoga with the youngest generation. Here are some ways to get everyone in the family involved in a playful practice that includes movement, breath work and meditation:
- Do a Little Dance: Music naturally brings people together, no matter their age! We all like to shake our booties a little bit. So find a yoga song and start groovin’! One of my favorites to do with multi-generational groups is Kidding Around Yoga’s, “Yoga Nagila“. If some people aren’t very mobile, they could sit in the center and watch the other people go around, participating in all of the other movements as they are able.
- Clap Your Hands: Partner hand-clapping games have been played for generations, so sit face-to-face and learn a new tune. Go as slowly or as quickly as you want. Maybe the movements and rhythm will spark Grandma’s memory and she can teach an old favorite of her’s! Here’s a yoga-based hand clapping game called “This Little Light” sung to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”. It’s from Kidding Around Yoga, too.
- Silly Stories: Using either a list of poses, a deck of yoga cards, or slips of paper in a hat, the grandparent chooses a pose, showing it to the child. The child then performs the pose and tells a story incorporating the pose. Choose another card or slip of paper and keep the story going using that pose. Continue adding to the story as long as you’d like, making it as silly as you want. If the grandparent is able, switch roles and let the child decide on the poses and have Grandpa make up the story.
- Mirror Mirror: Practice a partner meditation together with Mirror Meditation. The child and grandparent sit or stand face-to-face. Try to keep eye contact while Grandma begins to slowly and smoothly move – maybe just her hands or upper body (facial expressions are awesome, too). Or, if able, move the whole body. The child mirrors the movements, moving just as slowly and smoothly. Continue for a bit. No talking! After a few minutes, switch roles and have Grandma mirror her grandchild’s movements.
- Take a Breath: Sit back-to-back or have the child sit on the grandparent’s lap. The goal of this breathing practice is to match your partner’s inhale and exhale. So pay close attention to your buddy’s breathing pattern and try to breathe in when you feel their heart rise and exhale when you feel them soften. Continue for a while, working cooperatively to match breath.
Of course, if agility allows, grandparents can definitely participate in a more traditional, movement-based yoga practice with their young yogis. Age is just a number and the benefits of spending time with the oldest and youngest members of the family are valuable. Take advantage of your time together!