“Yoga is the space where flower blossoms.” – Amit Ray
In our everyday interactions with parents, we’ve observed that they wholeheartedly wish to connect with their children. As a result, they take part in activities that might help create a lasting bond — could be anything from drawing together to lip-syncing to a song. In fact, there is no dearth of things to do but if you were to ask me, I’d suggest you try yoga with your child.
I mostly teach yoga online to kids and I can go on and on about the benefits of practicing yoga regularly. It’s not only good for their health but also plays a role in their social skills. You’ll notice that kids who practice yoga tend to be confident and understand interpersonal/intrapersonal dynamics better.
Even if you aren’t into yoga yourself, as a parent, you can try these simple yoga poses and steps with your child. Apart from the physical and spiritual benefits, you will find one great activity to build a healthy connection.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
Partner Gate Pose
This is a wonderful way to form connections and learn to lean on each other for support. Gate also stretches the shoulders, waist, and back, which get sore from carrying heavy backpacks or sitting at a desk all day. Start on your knees about a leg’s length apart from each other. Each one of you steps your opposite leg out to the side towards each other and lines up your feet in about the same area. Lift your outside arm and lean towards each other until you can grab each other’s hands. Hold and breathe and come back to your knees. You can come into the tabletop to crab walk around each other to do the opposite side.
Sit on the floor face-to-face and have your child stretch her legs along the inside of yours, as shown (or sit touching feet). Join hands, and keeping your backs straight, move your upper bodies back and forth in a seesaw motion. You should each feel a good stretch in the back of your legs.
Partner Down Dog
Start on all fours facing opposite directions and touching your feet. Along with your child, push up and straighten your legs, keeping your back flat and arms outstretched. Have your child lift one foot at a time and place it as shown, keeping her toes pointed. This pose strengthens the core and arms and it’s a great confidence builder.
Seated Partner Twist
Start by sitting in Sukhasana back to back – both you and your partner will cross your shins, widen your knees and fold each foot beneath the opposite knee. Scoot close so your sit bones are touching. Gently press your upper back into one another. Place one hand on your partner’s knee and the other on your twisted knee. Both partners take a deep breath in to lengthen their spines, then exhale to twist in opposite directions. Let your partner know how the twist feels to either increase or decrease the depth of the twist. Hold the twist for 3-5 breaths and then switch directions.
Start by standing face to face with your partner, with your toes touching. With their left foot in place, both partners take their right foot behind. Bending the left knee in front, right leg straight behind., lift your hands up, and touch each other’s palms. Take a few deep breaths here. Repeat on the other side.
Sit on the floor face-to-face and have your child stretch her legs touching your feet, as shown. Join hands, and keeping your backs straight, move your upper bodies forth trying to touch your toes. You should each feel a good stretch in your legs.
Partner Boat Pose (Naukasana)
One of the most well-known yoga poses for core strength. For this, sit on the floor facing your partner, with bent knees and soles of the feet touching. Hold hands with your partner, arms on the outside. Press your feet together and begin to lift your legs together, until both the partner’s legs are parallel to the floor. Hold here and breathe or slowly straighten your knees. Try holding the pose for 10-20 seconds.
Partner Tree Pose (Vrishasana)
A pose that builds trust in the opposite person, at the same time helps you focus on your own balance and strength. Stand next to each other, either holding hands or with your arms around each other’s waist. Stand tall with your shoulders back, head up, spine straight, and legs firmly planted into the ground. Then shift to stand on your inner leg—you’ll be creating a mirror image with your partner. Bend your other leg, place the sole of your foot on your inner thigh or calf (just not on your knee), and help each other to balance. If you feel steady, take your outer arm and form a namaste. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
A Lizard on the Rock Pose
Lizard on a rock pose is not only fun — it’s a great stretch! Two children can do the pose or a child and an adult. A pose that’s grounding for the rock and an easy heart-opening stretch for the lizard. Kneel on the floor and sit back on your heels. make sure you and your partner’s toes touch. One partner, bend forward to rest your forehead gently on the floor while the other partner lies over. Relax your arms by your sides, palms up. Close your eyes and relax your body for several breaths.
All these learnings and thoughts are shared keeping in mind my experience in practicing and teaching Yoga to children.
[Sabrina Merchant is a star faculty at DIY and she initially started teaching Yoga as a way to connect with her young daughter.]