This week’s blog post from Assistant Manager and Family Yoga Instructor, Beth, offers some ideas to have fun with yoga as a family:
I love sharing yoga with kids every Thursday at the museum during our Family Yoga class, but setting aside a whole half hour for yoga is not always practical or even possible for busy families. Even in my personal practice, there are days when I just don’t have the time or energy to squeeze in a long yoga sequence. During days like this I try to focus on things I can do with the limited time I have. I like to stand in mountain pose while waiting in line at the grocery store, to breath consciously for one or two minutes during downtime at my desk, or to take an inversion in the afternoon when my energy starts to drop. Children, particularly kids who have trouble focusing for a whole yoga class, can also benefit tremendously from this kind of one-pose-at-a-time approach.
One of my favorite ways to incorporate a bit of yoga into my day is with a partner. I love partner yoga because it’s such a fun way to connect with another person and to explore movement that might not be accessible without a little help. Partner yoga is especially great for families because it encourages connection and communication. For older children, partner poses offer an opportunity to connect with parents in a way that is fun and cool; and younger children are able to explore movement in a way that feels safe with the support of a parent. Practice these poses anywhere the mood strikes: at home, at the park, while walking your dog, or if you’re really adventurous—at the grocery store. You don’t need anything but yourself and a partner, so the possibilities are almost endless!
Better than a piggyback ride, Yoga Backpack is the coolest way to carry someone on your back! Because this pose allows the Hiker to lift the Backpack’s weight with their legs (the strongest muscles in their body) a small Hiker will be able to carry a relatively large Backpack. This means some older children will be able to lift larger siblings or even parents!
- To get into the pose, stand back to back with your partner. Decide who will be the Hiker and who will be the Backpack.
- The hiker will bend their knees and squat low enough so the bum of the Backpack rests in the small of their back (just above to Hiker’s bum).
- The Backpack will then loop their arms (backpack straps) up and over the Hiker’s shoulders, so that the Hiker’s shoulders are kind of wedged into the Backpack’s armpits.
- The Hiker then just needs to lean forward until the weight of the Backpack feels centered over their feet. At this point a shorter Backpack’s feet might lift off the ground.
- When the Hiker feels comfortable holding the weight of the Backpack, the Backpack can grab their feet with their hands (they might need help from the Hiker to reach). Now the Backpack is essentially in Bow Pose on the Hiker’s back.
- Take your backpack for a hike!
- To get into the pose, the base will come into Downward Dog—from all fours (or table top) tuck your toes and lift your hips up, root down through your hands and straighten through your arms and legs as much as feels comfortable (your body will make an inverted “v” shape).
- The flying dog will the plant their hands about 6 inches to a foot (depending on height and body shape) in front of the base dog’s hands.
- The flying dog will gently place one foot on the base dog’s hips, just above their lower back, and then take their weight into their hands to lift the second foot up to the base dog’s hips. In this pose the flying dog is doing a handstand with their feet supported on the base dog’s hips.
- The flying dog will work to bring most of their weight in their hands and very little weight on the base’s back.
This pose is also called Double Plank, because both partners are in plank pose, one on top of the other. With a strong base at the bottom, this pose can be turned into Triple or even Quadruple Lizard!
- To get into this pose, the base will come into plank pose– the top of a yoga push-up.
- The flying lizard will then stand over the base, facing their feet, and grab their ankles or just above them.
- Then the flying lizard will gently lift one foot up onto the base’s shoulder, keeping their arms strong and lifting through their core.
- When both partners feel stable, the base will bring their other foot off the ground and up to the base’s shoulders, so they are in plank pose with their hands at the base’s ankles (or calves, depending on height) and their feet at the base’s shoulders.
- A small child might need the help of a spotter to get all the way up onto a larger base, like a parent.