By Guest Blogger Diane Olsen, certified yoga instructor, local entrepreneur, and mother of three

How many times in the past few months have you had to remind yourself, or someone you love, to take a deep breath. Pause. Relax. These are trying times. Breathe. Inhale, exhale. Take a minute. Close your eyes. Breathe in 2, 3, 4 and out 2, 3, 4. There, that’s better. Now you can focus. Or at least not feel like you’re about to explode. And guess what? You’ve just started practicing yoga.

These past few months have been filled with so much uncertainty. So many challenges. So many disappointments. So much flexibility and adaptability has been needed. Now, imagine how your kids are feeling?  So many feelings. You know what can help? Yoga. For you AND your family. Yes, it’s a thing. And it works, I promise.

Yoga actually means “union”- think of it as the union of the mind and the body. So many of the things you do daily—breathing, stretching, focusing, learning—are really the tenets of yoga. Kids especially love to hear that they’ve already been practicing yoga. Then they love to show off their skills.

I’ve been sharing the benefits of yoga for kids for about 6 years now. And it’s an amazing experience. At first, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. How do you get kids to focus? To practice breathing? To sit still? To move their bodies in such complex ways? But then I realized, its actually quite simple: kids are natural yogis. From the time they are born (happy baby pose), to toddlers (down dog/peek a boo) up through their teens (bridges, back bends and handstands), children have always been practicing yoga. They just didn’t know it!

Yoga has so many benefits for the mind and body. Yoga focuses on things like:

  • Imaginative movement
  • Inner strength & well-being
  • Physical strength & flexibility
  • Focus & confidence
  • Relaxation & self-control
  • Respect for oneself & others
  • FUN

Yoga is an excellent way to introduce physical fitness to your family. It can be easily included in your daily routine. You can practice alone or together, inside or outside, live and in-person or via video. Young children especially enjoy yoga because it allows them to try new things and explore new worlds, and new experiences. Taking a yoga adventure to places they find fun (especially now, since some aren’t readily available to them). We travel to the beach, the farm, outer space…we can be animals or planets or plants or characters. It’s also a great way to get to know your body and mind a bit better. There are so many times where you look at a pose or a meditation and think there’s no way I can do this. But you can. Yoga is all about practice. We like to say that’s why it’s called a yoga practice, not yoga perfect. We try, we explore, we learn, we grow.

Right now is a great time to explore yoga. Take a walk on the greenway or anywhere, really, and observe the sights and sounds of nature. Imitate them. Talk about them. Get outside and social distance with friends in the yard or the park. Grab a blanket or a mat and blow bubbles, stretch, imitate nature. In your home via Instagram live classes, YouTube classes, Zoom classes, etc. Most apps include yoga workouts, mediations and mindfulness. Amazon and local bookstores have some fabulous stories you can read and act out. Google “yoga for preschool, kids, teens, moms,” etc. Spotify has some great yoga playlists and Instagram has so many live stream classes for all ages. Some of my favorites for the younger kids include Bari Koral, Karma Kids Yoga and Cosmic Kids. All are fun to do with your child or set them up and let them go! Teens are usually more excited by challenging poses.

Taking care of our physical and emotional well-being are more important now than ever before.  And having a routine, like practicing yoga, is a great way to keep us all moving forward. Learning, growing, sharing. Take a few minutes and give it a try. You might find that you will create a better connection with yourself, family, friends and the world around you.

The divine light in me honors and acknowledges the divine light within you. Namaste.

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