You don’t need to travel far to go on a family adventure – only to your living room! Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a fun 15-minute yoga experience the whole family will love:
- Theme. Pick a specific topic or storybook that you’d like to create your Family Yoga experience around. For example, let’s pretend that you are going to the Zoo.
- Brainstorm. Get out a big piece of blank paper and markers. List all the animals, people, and things that you would see, hear, and do on this topic. Record everyone’s ideas.
- Set-up. Clear the space where you would like to do your Family Yoga experience together. Ensure that it is a safe environment and that you all have plenty of room to move around. Some great spots are a room in your house, outdoors in the park, or in your campsite. Explain the purpose of the activity, how long it will take (10-20 minutes is great to start), your expectations of their behavior, any safety considerations, and that creativity is encouraged.
- Warm-up. Get the whole family moving and stretching to wake up your bodies in preparation for the experience. Sun Salutes are a great way to get started. Stretch up like a giraffe, fold forward like a waterfall, step back like a bear, hands & knees like a jaguar, and curl up like a mouse. Do again in reverse, repeat.
- Journey. Now that your bodies are warmed up, it’s time to go on your pretend Family Yoga journey. For your Zoo journey, first pretend to pack your bags in preparation for the day. Then, pretend to get into a car (or train or plane) to travel to the Zoo. Next, pretend to walk around the zoo. Call out the animals that you see and act them out altogether, one at a time. You might see an eagle (perch on tree), lion (on hands and knees), elephant(arms as a trunk), monkey (squat down), or kangaroo (hop with paw hands). You could pretend to stop for ice cream or anything else that you think would be fun for the day. Use your imagination on what you would see, hear, and do on your Zoo visit.
- Rest. Once you have finished your Family Yoga experience, it’s important to take the time to relax your mind and body. For our Zoo trip, pretend to be sea stars. Lie on your back. Stretch out your arms and legs. Relax. Breathe deeply.
- Discuss. Talk about your Family Yoga experience afterwards. What did everyone like best? Encourage a discussion. Ignite their excitement. Connect with each other through the fun of movement and storytelling.
- Share. Practice the Family Yoga trip together another day. Invite friends and family over to share in the fun. Take photos and make a little “Family Yoga” book.
Tips for a successful Family Yoga experience:
- Focus on fun – children’s yoga is less formal than adult yoga, emphasizing movement and creativity rather than practicing the poses with perfect alignment
- Pretend to travel to different places in the world and use the experience as a way to learn about different cultures
- Laugh and have fun – if the timing isn’t right, then try again another day
- Get everyone involved and acknowledge everyone’s abilities
- Encourage everyone’s creativity – for example, ask the children how they think that the bear moves
- Just like a storybook, have a beginning (warm-up), middle (journey), and end (rest)
- Be safe
- Research and learn new yoga poses each time that you practice your Family Yoga experience together (ex. Downward Facing Dog, Mountain Pose, Plank Pose, Child’s Pose, Triangle Pose)
- Remain in the Resting Pose for a period of time to teach your children how to de-stress and relax
- Bring awareness to their breath
- Use props or visuals to get the family in the mood for their topic (ex. Bring out your stuffed animals for your Zoo adventure)
- Play music that compliments your topic
- Enjoy yourself – remember your enthusiasm is contagious
- Be in the moment – put all your worries and work aside and be present with your children – that’s where the magic begins …
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Amanda’s “Spin On It”
I am a huge believer in getting kids outside and active, but I have honestly not delved into the world of Yoga with my kids until recently. In fact, I see how strong and flexible some people who are Yoga enthusiast are and I am a wee bit intimidated. My daughter attended a Charter School last year that did Yoga with the students every morning and she adored her morning Yoga lessons. I had hoped to continue making Yoga a part of our routine, but have to admit that I did not. Mostly, because I know so little about it and was afraid of teaching my kids the wrong way to do something. Ms. Shardlow sent me a copy of her Sohia’s Jungle Adventure after we exchanged a few e-mails about trying it out with my kids. Inspired by her enthusiasm, we used a recent outing to the zoo to practice our first Family Yoga Experience. She encouraged me (and others) to “Focus on having fun” without the pressures of making the perfect pose and reminded me that “The physical postures of Yoga were invented thousands of years ago by people watching and imitating their environment.”
We really had a BLAST! The kids loved going from animal to animal and figuring out how they moved or how they could represent that animal in a pose. The following day, we were able to visit the zoo again from the comforts of our own living room in the storytelling format Ms. Shardlow explained above. I extended our Yoga even further by reading “Sophia’s Jungle Adventure,” the third day and moving like the animals in the text. We then compared and contrasted the movements from our story (the zoo) and Sophia’s adventure. (Connecting literature, story retelling, the natural world AND movement – I really do like lessons and activities that are extremely effective and meaningful at teaching our families core values!) After re-reading the storytelling directions, I realized that we just brainstormed orally and that writing down our thoughts would add even another component to this activity – making it a definitely winner for our family.
Are you like me and afraid to give Yoga a try? Or are you an expert Yoga guru? I’d love to hear how YOU put Yoga into your routines!!! (All helpful hints and suggestions will by tried – I promise!)