Have you ever had those moments where during family conflict or chaos you lay your head down and wave an imaginary white flag of surrender? If you have, I hope you know that one you are not alone, two you are normal and so is your family, and three we know we cannot stay in that place for long or the whole family suffers. We know we need to mindfully keep our cool and take the reins, but how do we do that? The practice of yoga is a great resource to increase the harmony in your home. By practicing yoga together as a family, you have a shared language and toolbox when it comes to those tough moments. Your child knows if they see you close your eyes and take big deep belly breath you are approaching the end of your rope, feeling big emotions, and working to calm down. Ideally, they may follow suit or more importantly they will feel safe knowing “phew Mom is getting calm” versus they are ready to blow their top which can add to a child’s chaotic energy. Practicing yoga with your family also creates a fun playful and healthy way to be together. With partner poses you get to play around and with all the animal names you can be silly being a hissing cobra or mooing cow. These fun interactions create bonds and memories that will last life time.
Here are 3 of my favorite yoga tools to teach families!
1. Self-Regulation through Breathing
So many fun ways to practice breathing to regulate your nervous system and allow you to respond to big emotions from a place of wisdom. From that place of wisdom, we are more likely to determine the need behind our child’s misbehavior or emotional storm so we can meet it and help them settle. Furthermore, when we stay grounded, calm, and regulated it has a direct calming effect on our children. And yes, sometimes we may not get the immediate calm from our child and they may continue to spin as we find our center. But you will wisely know you are building a foundation for your child’s long-term development (emotional intelligence) by modeling this self-regulation practice and you won’t feel that all too common parent guilt or shame from losing your cool and reacting.
· Try out belly breathing with a hoberman sphere this creates a great visual to fill the belly and chest as the ball expands and deflate as the ball contracts. You can also pace your child’s breathing by expanding and contracting the ball at a slow pace.
· Check out the book Breathe Like a Bear and make it a practice to choose a breathing exercise to practice as a family for a week, take turns picking the exercise. Nothing better for a child than seeing their dad pretending to blow out an imaginary candle in a moment of frustration to shift the mood and redirect the energy in a playful and truly regulating way.
· Lastly, Volcano Breaths! No better image than thinking of your anger and frustration like a volcano ready to explode. So, instead of exploding slow the pressure down with big volcano breaths.
Press hands together at heart, take a big inhale as you raise your hands above your head, and then pull your hands apart and breathe out with an explosive volcano breath or sigh releasing arms down to the side…and repeat!
2. Mind Jar is a tool to teach grounding to make clear minded (wise), safe, and effective decisions in the midst of a challenge. Grounding is a way to deal with overwhelming emotions. Much like breathing, it is a way to practice staying in the present moment, not focusing on the past or future and getting rooted and calm in your mind and body.
I came upon the mind jar activity from the book “Moody Cow Meditates”. Moody cow has a rotten, horrible day that leads to him losing his cool and throwing a baseball through a window. Grandpa is called in and teaches moody cow about meditating using a mind jar. It is basically a glitter snow globe in a jar that you can make with your child. It shows children that sometimes our mind is whirling and feels chaotic (jar shook up with glitter swirling). We can’t think straight, and our mind is not clear to make a safe and healthy decision. So, we have to pause (breathe) and wait for the angry, irritated, or worry thoughts (the swirling glitter) to settle before we make a choice. The thoughts are all still there but settled on the bottom of the jar and settled in our mind so we can think about them from a wise, clear space.
3. Challenge Pose! This can be a great distraction coping skill to redirect your child’s wild playful energy when it is not the time or place to be wild and playful. Like while you are trying to make dinner or get them ready for bed. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t slow my child down as he is winding up like a top, I know it can spin out of control until he is in tears which is no fun for anyone. Challenge poses are a time in the family yoga practice where you take terms leading the family through your favorite challenge pose and hold the pose for the length of time the leader challenges you too. You can call it “challenge pose time” or turn it into a playful yogi says (simon says) game. As your child is winding up, redirect it to a fierce warrior pose, a steady grounded tree, a graceful dancer, or a steady wise eagle.
As parents we are role models and mentors to our children and our actions and habits have greater impact then our words. So, we must practice self-care and self-regulation if we want to cultivate it in our children and home. Yoga teaches relaxation, breathing, and grounding skills. These tools help us not live in a reactive place of stress and instead find a sense of steadiness and ease amidst the chaos and increase the harmony in our home.
May your home be filled with laughter, love, and harmony.
Yours in Mindful Movement and good health,