“Grown ups and children must join their forces. In order to become great, the grown up must be humble and learn from the child.” – Maria Montessori
I was grouchy. And we all know that grouchy mama = grouchy household. Weaning, yet no slowdown in night wakings, plus travel the previous weekend, plus the endless cycle of chores and what I needed was to breathe and move. Yoga would be perfection. A nice, solid hour of breathing and stretching, moving into poses that were challenging but attainable. Yoga is like a drug and I needed it. I need it almost daily, actually.
And here is the conundrum: how do I get in a decent practice with a barnacle who is not yet walking, and certainly not yet talking, but who likes to be on mama as much as possible? I am not the only one who faced this hiccup in her yoga practice.
Here is where the illustrious Ms. Montessori steps in and informs my mothering: follow the child. Children are flexible, children like new activities, and children prefer it when mom is feeling calm and fulfilled. My practice can adjust so that I am both present for me and present for him. I just have to pay attention and be prepared. (Setting up shop in a prepared environment is ideal, so you are not constantly intervening or redirecting your child from enticing but dangerous objects. I practice in our office.)
Step 2: Accept cuddles…and turn them into a ride.
Step 3: Allow yourself to become what your child needs. At one point while I was in downward dog, he needed my arms and shoulders to be a mountain for his car.
Step 4: Encourage movement. Your are your child’s best example and cheerleader. If you invite him, he will follow.Step 5: Pause. He needs to be right there, and you need to take a few more deep breaths before leaning forward into crow.
Step 6: Make silly faces. This is group practice, after all.
Step 7: Pause together. Applaud every effort. Also, be flexible in your practice. Child’s pose was not part of this sequence, but he moved into it and smiled invitingly. Who am I to deny that? And if the sequence takes five or ten more minutes, well that’s just five or ten minutes more of yoga that I get to enjoy.
Step 8: Relax. It’s just yoga. It’s just a few moments in time. Breathe, and enjoy the feeling of little hands and knees and cars and kisses.
So that’s it: 8 steps to Yoga with your not-quite toddler. Embrace the crumbs.
The sequence I did was from Yoga Journal, and can be found here. I also like the free session at Yoga Today, which changes weekly. For a nominal fee, you can also subscribe and purchase downloadable hour-long practices. GREAT for those of us with limited childcare options. If you have a younger child, this a is a nice video for easing gas and colic, and my son LOVED stretching over my yoga ball. If you have an older child, here’s a nice photo series for a sequence. Finally, a few resources for healthful family life can be found here.
Good luck and Namaste.
Photo credits: Author