What I learned from 10 days of yoga with my toddler

kyan1On an average day, yoga plays a small but important role.  My home practice is usually limited to Kyan’s nap time, after I eat lunch and respond to emails.  I practice in my room either in silence or to very quiet music (so that I don’t wake him), alone (well, with 2 cats who may or may not take an interest).  I choose to practice alone in order to practice the cliche of ‘me time’.  Being alone is the only way that I can temporarily forget about everything going on in my world, all of my responsibilities, and just relax into my body and breath.  I cherish this time.

One of my biggest responsibilities these days is making sure that Kyan develops healthy lifelong habits that will shape him into an adult that we can all be proud of.  So why am I hiding one of my favorite healthy habits from him?  “Because it’s mine!”  That’s a phrase that should only be coming out of a toddler’s mouth, not his mother’s.  I decided that I need to practice what I preach and ‘share’ my practice.  Guess we could all use a few lessons in sharing no matter what our age.

I decided that for 10 days I’d practice yoga in his presence.  My hope was that eventually he’d take an interest in what I was doing and maybe practice a little with me (after all, toddlers are usually excellent at imitating adults).  I was prepared for and expecting the occasional full body tackle but I was not prepared for a few other things that happened.  Here’s what I learned from my 10 day experiment-

kyanMy kid likes deep breathing with me.  I was shocked that Kyan actually paid the most attention to me while I was simply seated.  He often sat on my lap and breathed with me.  To him it was playful blowing exercises but that works too.

Find a blend of relaxing muscles while at the same time bracing for a tackle.  This was quite challenging and also required me to always keep my eyes on the kid.  He enjoys crawling under me when I’m in downward dog and attempting to knock over any standing poses.  This makes for some nearly impossible but amusing attempts at balancing poses.

Quiet time can be contagious.  When I’m in seated or laying positions he seemed to take a cue from me and usually got on the ground and for some ‘quieter’ time.  He was not mimicking my poses but would get a toy and just sit quietly with it next to me.  This may be a parenting trick that I’ll be testing out when he’s loud and out of control…

He enjoys telling me to ‘stop yoga’ when he’s done.  Don’t all toddlers just love being the boss?!  Nearly all of the 10 days of this experiment, Kyan would enjoy being near me and my yoga for about 10 minutes then he was ready to move onto the next activity and he didn’t want to move on alone.  When he was done I would hear “No, Mommy, stop yoga” or “Yoga all done, Mommy”.  I’d always squeeze a few more minutes in and simply tell him that I’m not done but he can go find something else to do.

As for whether or not this type of joint toddler-mommy yoga will continue… I’d say yes.  Although short intervals of it are all that seem to interest him.  I will still maintain my practice during his nap times as it is quite a different experience.  I’ll just be blending both of these practices into our schedules from now on.  And who knows, maybe the more he’s exposed to it, the more he’ll join me and the longer our classes together can be.

Do you have any experience practicing yoga with a toddler?  How did they like it?  Any tips or suggestions you’d like to share?


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