I have practiced yoga in the presence of my granddaughter since she was an infant. When she was old enough to bend over on her own, I introduced her to forward folds and downward facing dog. Now that she is a “grown up” 2 and half year old toddler, we practice yoga together regularly.
Yoga has been a part of my weekly regimen for over 20 years. Workshops, certifications, and mentor guidance has taught me the physiology of poses, the importance of the mind-body connection and the need for regular practice. Practicing with my granddaughter has taught me elements that I had never considered and therefore, I pass on this wisdom to you.
Anytime is a good time to practice yoga
We can be in the middle of building a ginormous Duplo castle, or reading an exciting picture book, or preparing a meal in the kitchen, when my granddaughter declares, “Let’s do yoga!” At one time, I’d reply that we should finish building the tower, reading about Walter, or making dinner for Grandpa. Now, I ask, “Are you leading our practice or am I?”
I jest about her random announcements, but why should I? Yoga is a spirit-mind-body practice that integrates breath and postures. Shouldn’t we implement that practice throughout the day? What if, when feeling angry, irritated, sad or stressed, we pause and take a yoga “time-out”? Balance, twists, chest openers are yoga. But so is breath and stillness. Can we also take a page out of my granddaughter’s book, and spontaneously practice when we are feeling silly, energetic and filled with joy?
Find the fun in poses
My yogi toddler is rarely serious during our yoga time. She chatters, giggles and sometimes flops onto the mat to try to make me laugh. As we move through various poses, she assigns a “fun level” to each one. Cat and Cow are fun, because we moo and meow as we move. Bound angle is VERY fun because we have flapping wings like butterflies. Boat pose is the MOST fun, because she sits on my boat while rowing her arms and singing out loud.
I recall many practices where I’d inwardly cringe prior to moving into the next pose. The reasons being that the pose was either uncomfortable in my body or frustrating to complete. When I consider my granddaughter’s philosophy that ALL poses are fun, it changes my perspective. If I practice those uncomfortable ones for pleasure and not to try to master a goal, then I am inspired to try rather than feeling that I “have to” do it. Lately, I find myself grinning as I prepare for the previously unliked posture, thinking “what would toddler yogi girl do?”
Celebrate the little successes during your practice
During the balance portion of our practice, I kneel so that my little yogi can use my shoulders as an assist. Recently, while practicing my own airplane pose, she tried hers without help. She balanced on one leg for a moment, and then began clapping, yelling and jumping up and down. “I did airplane pose!” Then she repeated the pose and the clapping-jumping celebration.
How often do we silently ridicule ourselves for the poses that we have not “mastered”? At times, I find myself making excuses in my head as to why I couldn’t complete a bind or hold a balance pose. I am quick to point out what I cannot do. What I should be doing is silently (or perhaps boldly proclaiming), “Good job, Grammy! You are practicing yoga!”