Turn your yoga time into family time and reconnect with the ones you love amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life. By Gopala Amir Yaffa
We run around like crazy every day; we get the kids to school, we commute, and we put in a full day’s work. When we come home, we have a house to organise, dinner to make and bills to pay. And our kids are as busy too: they have school until the late afternoon hours, then homework and then extracurricular activities. All the time it’s go, go, go! There is not enough time to simply just be.
We are called human beings, but we have become human doers, and we are constantly pushing our kids to become the same. We all, parents and kids, need time to breathe and stretch; time just to connect and time to be…to be together. The speed of life and the stresses that come, for both adults and kids, with this increasing velocity is a force that causes disharmony and division in the family. We accomplish so much within a day, but we miss the essence. We survive, we make ends meet and we get through the day, but do we thrive as people and as a family?
Tending and careful care are needed to maintain healthy relationships, including the very special ones that we, as parents, have with our children. This is what family yoga is all about. It is about taking the time to be together, to touch, to open, to acknowledge and to look not at a TV set, but into each other’s eyes.
Family yoga offers all the tools we need to reconnect and be fully present with each other. While doing yoga together, we let go of tension and we find new ways to communicate, play and have fun together.
How can we make our regular yoga practice into family yoga?
Connect your yoga mats one in front of the other, or make a circle with all of the edges of the yoga mats touching if you are a bigger family. Turn off your cell phone and put some fun music on. Hold hands and start with a few deep breaths while gazing into each other’s eyes, and decide that now it’s time to be together.
You can follow this simple class plan:
Warm Up: Follow My Body
Put your favourite music on and have the most experienced yogi start and lead everyone through a Sun Salutation and other movements for the other family members to mirror. There is no talking. Everyone follows the movements of the leader silently. One at a time, all the family members take turns being the leader for a few minutes.
Yoga Poses: Connecting
Each of the family members chooses three of their favourite poses for everyone to connect through. In pairs or as a group, we explore different ways of doing this pose together. We can hold hands, do the pose one in front of or behind each other, back-to-back or side-by-side. We can even do the pose one on top of each other! The only rule when we invent new poses is that it must feel good to all participants. We take at least three deep breaths in each partner or group pose we create.
Breathing: Shapes Breathing
Sitting down, one person guides the others on how to breathe by asking them to follow the movements of their hand with their breath. When he/she raises their hand upward (slowly), it means to inhale; when they move the hand horizontally, it means to hold the breath; and when they move the hand downward, it means to exhale. The leader can in this way draw an imaginary square with their hand causing the other family members to inhale, hold their breath, exhale etc. in a rhythmic way. Try any shape you want! Stairs are my favourite. Do it for a minute or two and you’ll feel deeply relaxed. Then of course, switch leaders!
Relaxation: Anaconda Snake
Everyone (except the first person) lies with their head on the belly of the family member before them. We breathe deeply and feel how we lift and lower each other’s heads with our bellies as we breathe. We close our eyes and we listen and feel the breath moving like waves, helping us go deeper and deeper into the relaxation.
Don’t rush to get up, and finish with lots of cuddles and kisses. Enjoy!
Gopala Amir Yaffa is co-founder & wizard at Rainbow Yoga Training. Providing life changing yoga education around the world while making it a better place for future generations. Visit: rainbowyogatraining.com
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.