Life with two children under three, can at times be exhilarating, joy filled and at other times completely exhausting. In those days where either myself or my children are showing signs of tension or tantrums, I do what any good yogi would do and I pull out the yoga mats. Yes, my children’s play room comes equipped with all of your standard toys and 3 yoga mats. One for myself and one for each of my children. On those days when someone needs a little pick me up, including myself, I clear out the realm of toys and roll out the mats.
So what kind of yoga do I do?
I will be honest with you, with two children under three, this is not a time for a 10 minute Savasana. Although I do try to play sleeping beauty with my children and get them to rest for a few seconds. More likely than not, this yoga class is full of fun, releasing energy, tension and getting a few laughs. I typically start out the session with a full sun salutation. My daughter, who is three, joins in. Confidently telling me the next movement that follows in the pattern. Danika energetically moves into downward dog, into plank, stretches with cobra and then ends with a beautiful child’s pose. My son, who has just started walking, also loves downward dog. Although his next move is either crawling under me and playing peekaboo or attempting to do a somersault.
Let them make some Choices
Part of the freedom in this class is that I allow my daughter to pick her own movements. We have two excellent resources from the Itsy Bitsy Yoga Series, and I hand my daughter her preschool book and my son the infant version. Danika will then find me the movements that she wants to do today. This series of books is an excellent resource for both parents and teachers. The books provide excellent photographs and songs for the parent to do with the child. The photographs are large enough so that your preschooler can enjoy modeling the picture and shouting out the names of the next movement. I have used a version of this yoga series since my children were 6 six weeks old. As stated by Kelly in her blog about Yoga for Kids , the benefits of yoga for children is incredible.
Tips for Temper Tantrums
Breathing is a perfect way to release the tension that tantrums build both in the parent and the child. If my children are experiencing temper tantrums, I usually do one of two movements: the lion breath or positive/negative energy exchange. Lion Breath Becoming a lion is just fun for all ages. In this exercise, I encourage my children to roar out their anger. The louder the roar the better. I sit with my children and roar with them, having fun with this movement and letting out the negative energy.
Positive/Negative Energy Exchange
This is a breathing technique that I developed for my children. In this movement, we focus on using Pranayama breathing techniques, fully breathing in positive energy and releasing negative energy. For my children, I talk about breathing out the “bad energy” using different terms for the word bad, angry, black, yucky or whatever term my child comes up with. I then talk about letting in the good energy. I take a full breath with my children and we absorb the happy, excited, positive breath into our body. My daughter loves coming up with different terms to let out the bad energy and let in the good. And as an additional benefit, all this deep breathing relaxes both my children.
Ending your Yoga Session
Although I love relaxing in Savasana, the corpse pose often becomes a tickle fest or pile up on mommy routine than a relaxing pose. Instead, I typically end my yoga session with music, instruments and dance. We may begin with some energetic jumping (encouraging my children to lampa away), or other running, fast dancing techniques. I often bring in some Nia movements into this portion of the session, encouraging my children to feel the beauty of the music and allow their body to naturally move. At the end of the session, we finish with slower movements. Sometimes we may hang in rag doll or roll up my children like little burritos in their yoga mat. The point of the yoga session is to have fun, forget about the rules and get in tune with the natural creativity, love and laughter that children inspire.