Yoga life lessons for a 2 year old (and beyond)

Yoga life lessons for toddlersA few weeks ago, I posted about doing yoga ‘with’ (or mostly just in front of) my toddler- check out the article here if you missed it.  I understand that to truly reap the benefits of any long-term practice, one must be choosing to do it, not having a neurotic parent force it on them (“It’s for your own good!”).  That said, I’m delighted when Kyan chooses to sit with me and simply breath or mimic my poses.  At his age, he definitely seems to have the most fun with the physical aspect of yoga and like any kid, loves the animal poses.  I’m reminded how during my yoga for kids teacher training, we were encouraged to make yoga a playful activity for kids- one that keeps their attention while ‘sneaking in’ (as I regarded it) other aspects of yoga.  I love that my son can have fun with the poses, but also hope that he adopts a few important traits to carry with him throughout life.

I was reminded of these traits while reading Michael Pollan‘s latest book, ‘Cooked’.  If you’re not familiar with Michael Pollan (where have you been?!), I highly highly recommend checking out his books (all of them).  NPR has a great interview with him entitled Patience, Practice, Presence: How Michael Pollan Fell in Love With Cooking that includes my favorite quote of the book right there in the title.  Yes, he talks about these 3 traits in reference to cooking but what powerful traits these are for yoga, childhood, and all of life!

  • Patience.  Oh, how to teach a toddler patience?….  This seems to be a question that I ask myself not just daily, but hourly.  2 and 3 year olds are notoriously impatient little tantrum throwers.  Practicing patience with my little guy is a constant struggle.  I find myself praising him for his waiting skills and trying to never rush him.  Sitting and breathing with him will hopefully instill this virtue and help him to remember to just slow down.
  • Practice.  ‘When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’  Encouraging him to try frustrating things in new ways and to constantly go further with activities that he already enjoys will hopefully instill this trait.  Nothing in life comes easily (especially in a new yoga practice), which is why we all need to remind ourselves and our little ones to ‘practice, practice, practice.’
  • Presence.  This is one thing that my toddler could teach me about.  I’m the one who’s constantly planning for the future, checking my to-do lists, and mentally multi-tasking.  Toddlers are incredibly able to remain present ALL THE TIME.  I would be shocked if he ever sits around dwelling on past events or contemplating his future.  He’s just enjoying the here and now of his everyday activities and my hope is that he never loses that ability.
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