by Pamela Nixon: Does the idea of practicing family yoga together sound like a dream come true?
Or perhaps it sounds more like a nightmare – your children protesting when you announce it’s yoga time, complaining as you roll out the mats, whining about the other things they would like to do, wondering where the heck your partner is (probably hiding in a closet somewhere scrolling on Facebook while you attempt to corral the kids).
Well, I have some good news for you. An at-home family yoga practice is absolutely attainable, and while it may look a little different than the fantasy in your mind, I promise it won’t look like the nightmare, either.
Follow These 5 Steps to Get Everyone to Practice Family Yoga Together:
Just follow these five steps and you will be well on your way to beginning a fun and peaceful family yoga practice.
1. Practice More Than Just the Poses
When we think of yoga, we tend to think Downward Facing Dog, Triangle Pose, Handstand, and any other physical form we put our bodies into on the mat. But yoga consists of so much more than just the physical poses!
There is breathwork, meditation, and even moral guidelines (such as causing no harm, telling the truth, and being content with what you have).
So if you’ve decided that a yoga practice just isn’t possible for you and your family because you can’t seem to get everyone on a mat standing on their heads, think again! There are lots of ways to get the family practicing without ever rolling out a yoga mat.
Read up on the Eight Limbs of yoga to learn more about the different parts of a complete practice and some non-physical practices you can start using at home today.
2. Incorporate Yoga Into Your Already Existing Routines
It might be tempting to add “yoga time” to your day, setting aside 20 to 30 minutes for the whole family to come together as a unit. But ask yourself this: where are those extra minutes going to come from?
It’s a good idea in theory, but if we’re being realistic here, we couldn’t find an extra 20 to 30 minutes in our day if someone paid us, right?
So instead of adding more stress to your day by trying to carve out time that isn’t there, pick a time of day when you’re already coming together as a family to incorporate your yoga practice.
Perhaps during your kids’ bedtime routine you can add in some calming poses (think Child’s Pose or Legs Up the Wall to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and help them unwind), or some relaxing breathing exercises right before cuddles and lights out.
When the whole family sits down together for a meal try practicing gratitude by taking turns listing what you are grateful for that day.
3. Allow Each Family Member to Practice What They Love
If your partner is really into meditation, you want to sit for a little breathwork, and your kids are itching to move their bodies, trying to make everyone practice the same thing will probably lead to complete pandemonium.
So instead, offer some time for everyone to do their own yoga thing. Your partner may pop in their ear buds and listen to a guided meditation while your kids practice some energy-spending poses from a yoga video.
In the meantime, you can sit down for some calming Alternate Nostril Breathing.
As a family, you will reap the benefits of a practice you are all doing together – even if you’re each choosing a different aspect to focus on.
4. Have Some Fun With Partner Poses
Yoga doesn’t have to be so serious, especially not family yoga! It’s okay to have fun, laugh, and be silly.
Partner poses are a great way to get your physical practice in while lightening up the mood and deepening family bonds. Pick a partner and hold hands during balance poses like Tree Pose, Dancer’s Pose, or Warrior III.
Have an odd number of family members? Have everyone put their hands into the center to make it a group pose. Try sitting back to back for some deep breathing exercises, seeing if you can slow down your breath to match your partner’s.
Maybe even give AcroYoga a try! Your kids will have a blast with that!
5. Incorporate Positive Affirmations Into Your Day
Now, before you ask me what affirmations have to do with yoga, remember when I mentioned those moral guidelines for yogis to follow? Well, contentment is one of them and so is self-discipline. Working on a positive attitude is following both of these guidelines.
The more we repeat affirmations of gratitude, the more content we become. Not to mention the more good things we attract to be grateful for!
And when we focus on shifting our negative thoughts and beliefs into more positive beliefs in an effort to bring about positive change in our lives, we are practicing self-discipline.
Affirmations are a part of your yoga practice that you can get the whole family involved in – even the littlest of yogis. Try using a dry erase marker to leave positive messages on the bathroom mirrors, such as I am grateful for this beautiful day, or I am important.
When you write your child a note for their school lunch, include an affirmation for them to read, such as I will make today an awesome day.
Give everyone in the family a blank notebook to write positive affirmations in each day, then take some time before a family meal to read them aloud to each other.
Now You’re Ready to Enjoy Practicing Family Yoga Together!
The idea of family yoga time may have been daunting in the past, but now that you’re equipped with these five easy steps, you’re ready to get your family practice up and running.
Whether you hit the mat for some silly partner poses or spend a little time before bed focusing on your breath together, this new family yoga practice is bound to bring some more smiles to your faces and love to your hearts.