A trip to the yoga studio can be a great excuse for getting away from all the hustle and bustle of home life. After a nice long session, you’ll return home feeling refreshed and restored, with your active mind calm and your anxious muscles relaxed.
But have you considered bringing that sense of serenity and strength into your home and sharing it with your kids and significant other?
Yoga is one of our favorite at-home family workouts, but it can be so much more than just exercise. Practicing mindfulness can help break up the monotony of the at-home experience, and the calming techniques can help ease family stress and anxiety. Moreover, kids and adults can all benefit from the fact that yoga is a noncompetitive, body-positive fitness activity.
“Yoga is really effective because it’s so tangible. Learning physical postures builds confidence and strength as well as the mind-body connection,” kids’ yoga instructor Jessica Mei Gershen told journalists for Harvard Medical School. “Through yoga, kids start to realize that they are strong and then are able to take that strength, confidence, acceptance, and compassion out into the world.”
Yoga can offer many benefits for practitioners of all ages, and it can be a great activity for when the family is stuck at home. Let’s run through some tips and tricks for how you can begin an at-home yoga practice with your significant other and little ones today!
Ready to de-stress and stretch out? Here are some tips for getting your space, and your family, set up.
To set everyone up for a successful yoga experience, choose a spacious area in the house. It might require scooting over a coffee table here and an ottoman there, but it will be well worth the trouble. Turn off the TV and leave the phones and toys on the other side of the room so you have fewer distractions. If it’s a nice day outside, consider practicing yoga alfresco! Even the smallest backyard will allow you to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the restorative effects of nature. (And sunglasses might help!)
A good yoga mat can help provide a cushion for your wrists and knees during various poses, so if you have a few yoga mats, lay them out on the floor. But there’s no rule that says you need them! Grippy socks or bare feet, carpeting or hardwood floors, a beach towel or bathtub mat can all work in a pinch. Even a patch of grass in the backyard will do!
Before starting your yoga session, help everybody get into the right type of clothes. Getting dressed and ready can help everyone get in the right zone. All you really need is something stretchy and nonrestrictive that allows for plenty of movement. Again, there’s no rule that says yoga pants are the only option; soft leggings, loose and lightweight sweatpants, and knit T-shirts or tank tops are all just as good.
A little music can help everyone get in the right headspace and ground your family practice. There are hundreds of playlists on music streaming apps and hour-long videos featuring music for yoga and meditation — preview a few until you find one that feels right. The serene sounds of nature, peaceful flute melodies, global beats, and slo-mo synth tracks will signal that this is a special time outside of other (perhaps more frantic) family activities.
Once you’re all ready to begin actually practicing yoga, it will be important to start with the basics to familiarize your family with the different poses and what they’re all about.
If your children or significant other are totally new to yoga, run through a handful of basic and commonly used yoga poses. The names and body positions can be a little confusing for beginners, so start by introducing them one by one and running through them independently, as you might in hatha yoga, rather than launching into a complicated vinyasa flow.
Chicago Parent recommends teaching kids Tree Pose and Warrior III for balance as well as Frog Pose and Happy Baby for a good stretch. Verywell Fit’s list of essential poses for beginners also includes important ones like Cat-Cow, Child’s Pose, and Downward-Facing Dog along with Warrior I and II, Triangle Pose, and Bridge Pose.
Once everyone feels familiar and comfortable with a handful of essential poses, you can bring some structure to your family yoga practice by following a virtual class or video tutorial. Look online for some free, basic yoga classes and stream them on a large TV screen so everyone can see and follow along easily. Kids can quickly get bored with isolated poses, so a beginner vinyasa-style class where one pose transitions into another can be a more engaging challenge. But make sure everyone knows it’s okay to take a moment to rest in Child’s Pose if things are moving too quickly. Keep an eye on how everyone’s doing, and consider pausing and rewinding the lesson so everyone has a chance to catch up.
If you’re a dedicated yogi, it might be hard to accommodate your little ones’ giggles or your partner’s poor technique. But with a little patience, family yoga can be a great way for everyone to meet in the middle. Your childlike sense of wonder and discovery can be reignited when you see your beloved beginners trying new things, exploring what their bodies can do, and even coming up with new poses. Plus, you can educate your family about the importance of setting an intention, focusing on breath, and feeling the earth beneath your feet. As long as your fellow practitioners are moving safely, they can always refine their technique with time.
Your at-home family yoga practice doesn’t have to be a silent and strictly meditative experience. Instead, embrace the messy art of expression. If your little ones want to make animal noises every time they switch between Cat-Cow or Down Dog, feel free to join them! And be sure to introduce them to Lion’s Breath and other expressive breathing techniques.
One of the best parts about introducing a family yoga practice is that you can experiment with parent-child or sibling partner poses. “Touch is magic and such an integral part of family bonding,” Meg Reckley, co-founder of Buddha Belly Kids Yoga, told Chicago Parent. “Partner yoga is a great way for families to do yoga together. It doesn’t have to be super fancy acrobatic poses. Just find ways in which you can connect your bodies in the poses.”
Simple ideas include holding hands for a Double Tree Pose or pressing your feet together and holding hands for Double Boat Pose. If you’re ready to try something more advanced, Double Down Dog can be a fun and impressive challenge. There’s also Lizard On a Rock, where the larger person holds Child’s Pose with their hands near their feet, and the smaller person reclines across their back and opens up their shoulders for a deeper stretch.
You wouldn’t want you to launch your first family yoga practice on an empty stomach. Pick out your favorite Perfect Bars and don’t forget about Perfect Kids for the pint-sized yogis in your household!