“Some days you eat salads and go do yoga. Other days you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants. It’s called balance.”– Unknown
Like you, I am a full-time mom with a full-time job working hard to get it all in within the 24 hours that we’re given in a day. As a yoga teacher and long-time practitioner, I can tell you that, most days, practicing yoga with the kids is much better in theory than reality.
The reason being, kids typically have a short attention span; an attention span similar to the length of a television commercial, on a good day. For that reason, I try not to push yoga onto my children; however, I never let their lack of focus or enthusiasm deter my practice and I find that in doing so, it inspires them to do their own thing: keeping body movement and breathing deeper. Afterwards, my kids always say how amazing they feel after yoga driven meditation.
Here are a few ways to incorporate yoga, meditation and mindfulness into your daily routine:
- Set aside time and roll out the mats: Investing in yoga mats for each person may buy you a few more minutes, but are not necessary. Towels or chair yoga are also viable options, but the most important part is setting the priority to schedule a time, everyday, for something to do with the kids. Certain days, I pull out all the stops and make it more like a real class with incense, essential oils, inspirational reading, meditation bowls, chimes, music and journaling before and after. More than anything, it is a time to connect.
- Don’t make it so formal: Take advantage of the outdoors. Stretching, breathing, and moving can be done anywhere. Explore the practice of ‘earthing’ – removing your shoes and connecting with the energetic frequency of the Earth. Feel the soil and grass between your toes, smell the smells, let go. Walking meditation is another way to connect mindfully with source energy and can be done simply by walking in a familiar place with your eyes closed. Trust is huge here. Explore the sensation of each part of your foot and toes as they connect with Mother Earth. Allow your entire face and body to relax as you fully immerse in all of your senses. Being in nature is a wonderful way to distance yourself from your ‘problems’ and gain perspective.
- Play music and dance: Shut off the television and rock out! It is always fun to let a different person or family member select the tunes – and a great way to hear new music. Allow yourself to be playful and reconnect with the younger version of yourself, the carefree, slightly ‘wilder’ version, who loves to cut loose. Move, breathe, dance, laugh and be silly. Yoga is union, of breath, body and spirit, and music is one of the best ways to tap into your creative side. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to worry about your to-do list when you lose yourself in the moment and in the beat? It feels good to let go and be silly. Shutting off the television and putting the phones away are great ways to encourage more verbal communication and release the stresses of the day. It is also fun to let a different person select the music and play games, like ‘freeze yoga’ – when the music stops you land a yoga pose and hold it for as long as you can, or make up dance routines. Lastly, yoga and meditation are a great relaxing method to wind down before going to bed.
- Create more routines: Get into the routine of a dance party before bed to get the ‘silly’s out,’ shutting off the television while cooking meals, or end of day meditations. One of my favorite ways to check-in and nurture deeper connections is the three G’s. It is done by asking each person in your circle the following questions: 1) What are you grateful for? 2) What are you good at? and 3) What is your goal for today/tomorrow? Simply reflect on the day and all you may have to be grateful for. Another personal favorite is the high/low reflection. What was your high for the day? And what was your low for the day? This is a great method for developing parental listening skills, without going into fix it mode. A family prayer or inspirational bed-time story is another way to implement and encourage deeper bonding into your routine.
Remember to relax. Don’t worry if you miss a day, or even a week. That’s why it is called practice.