We spoke to one of our great friends in the yoga space – Gali from Mini Yoga Club! Yoga is a key activity that helps children take a moment and relax while having fun. As parents, we might not know where to start when it comes to introducing something like this to our kiddos! We spoke with Gali to get some tips and tricks on how to make your home a yoga-friendly space for your rascals of all ages.
What advantage comes from introducing yoga to rascals at an early age?
There are so many great advantages to introducing yoga and meditation from an early age. I believe that the greatest advantage is the ability to regulate the stress response of their little nervous system because stress is the #1 cause of all disease and mental illness around the world. The ability to stay resilient and flourish through life's stressors and challenges is an incredibly important skill to cultivate, and it's what every parent wishes for their child.
How do we get started?
You start where you are. If you can dedicate 2 minutes a day for 3 deep breaths alongside you kids, that's amazing! If you can dedicate 5 min a day for 3 deep breaths and a yoga pose that is awesome too. If you wish to form a habit and a ritual around it, I recommend 20 min a week of yoga play time.The most important part is to be playful and choose connection over correction when practicing yoga and meditation alongside your kids. Get silly, have fun together.
What poses would you recommend starting with?
Start with a cat and cow pose. It is easy and fun, especially if you are doing the animal sounds as you move through the poses, kids LOVE it! IHere is a toddler's approved script you can use:
"Hey my love, look at me! I'm a cow moooooooooo, can you be a cow with me? The cow has a little friend- a cat! Meow! Can you be a cat with me?" - creating an invitation to play is key!
What is your best advice on how to bring mindfulness into an often-busy schedule and daily life?
My best advice is to introduce a 1 minute mindful yoga break a day during times of calm. The timing is important- avoid introducing mindfulness or yoga when your child is agitated or tired. During these 1 minute breaks you can use an a breathing activity printable, or a yoga card as visual tools that will invite your child to join in.
To end it all, do you have a special activity that might help to develop emotional awareness with our Rascals?
I love using allegories to share what emotions are and how we can experience them in a safe and loving way with the little ones. My favorite way is the inner-outer weather activity. Awareness of emotions and feelings is critical to mental and physical health. It is also a big part of yoga and mindfulness practice. Sometimes it’s hard to observe and put into words what is going on inside us. When that happens, we can easily try to resist, over-identify, or get overwhelmed by our emotions. For kids, naming and managing emotions is even more difficult as they lack the skills to become aware of and understand their internal states. So here is an amazing way to help kids understand their emotions and co-regulate with them through an INNER WEATHER activity.
Ask your child: What is the weather today?
Is the weather a part of nature? Is it a natural thing?
What are emotions? What kind of emotions do we have? Are they a natural thing?
If HAPPY was the weather, what would it be?
If ANGER was the weather, what would it be?
IF SADNESS was the weather, what would it be?
Share with your child: In the same way that the weather outside is always changing, our emotions are like our inner weather, and they are always changing too. Everyone feels emotions, and that is natural.
Repeat. Kids need consistency and repetition to develop any skill. Try to build this practice into the weekly schedule.
Explain that emotion our inner weather, and just like the outside weather, it is always changing. Think about a time when you felt happy/sad/angry, where can you feel it in your body?
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
+ It improves self awareness, social-emotional, and co-regulation skills: It gives us and the kids an opportunity to become aware of our emotions and notice how they affect us.
+ It provides the important insight into the reality of the human experience: That emotions are natural, everyone have them, and they are impermanent.
Gali is a wealth of knowledge, and you can find out much more about her on Instagram at @miniyogaclub where she shares daily videos and resources all about introducing yoga to your children at home! You can also find merchandise such as yoga play kits and free yoga games, activities etc at her website www.miniyogaclub.com