share your yoga practice with your children
One way you can introduce yoga to your children is through a regular kids’ yoga class. But if one doesn’t fit in your family’s schedule, or the right teacher hasn’t appeared, no worries. To offer your kids a meaningful experience of yoga, all you have to do is make it a part of your home life.
Kate Holcombe, founder and president of the Healing Yoga Foundation in San Francisco, met her teacher, T.K.V. Desikachar, when she was 19. During her many years of study with him in Chennai, India, she noticed that the legendary yogi didn’t practice behind closed doors; he practiced out in the open, with his family.
So when Holcombe had her own children, she followed her teacher’s adage: “Yoga is for the living room, not the yoga room.” She invites her oldest sons (Calder, 8, and Hayes, 5) to use her body as a playground while she’s practicing asana. “They love doing my stretches with me,” she says. “When I’m in Downward Dog, they race underneath me as many times as they can before I move into Upward Dog. While I’m on my back with my legs in the air, they jump up and fly like an airplane on my feet.” Holcombe has taught Calder to do Sun Salutations, and he and Hayes like to imitate postures by her side. Sometimes, at night, when she does her asana routine in their bedroom, they watch her in the shadows and listen to the sound of her breathing as they fall asleep. Her advice for parents? “Rather than compartmentalizing ‘yoga time’ and ‘family time,’ be flexible,” she says. “Adapt your practice to your lifestyle and your children’s needs.” Her sons know that they can join their mom for postures and chanting when they’re in the mood, but it’s never required.
As you create your home routine, says Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, the spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and a longtime student of Swami Rama, it’s important to teach only what you practice. If you love vinyasa classes, show your children flowing sequences that are coordinated with the breath. If you sit for long periods of meditation, invite your child to crawl onto your lap for as long as she’s comfortable being still. If you have an altar, let your child pick flowers or draw pictures to place on it. “Let your children see that your practice makes you happy,” he says, “and let them follow you.”
With positive role modeling and regular firsthand experience, he says, your kids will begin to see that yoga—in all its myriad forms—is good for their health, happiness, and spiritual development. And as they mature, they may be inspired to study in a more structured manner.
adapted from Yoga Journal by By Shannon Sexton
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