Bringing a child (or two, or three) into the world is a miracle and I count my blessings every day. To be surrounded by such innocence, purity and love, we as parents have so much to learn each day, and no one said it was going to be an easy one. One of my old friends who congratulated me also said, “Life as you know it, has changed forever. Get ready for a roller coaster ride.” Well, it’s a good thing I love roller coasters.
Living in Singapore, we’re blessed with beautiful parks, great family and friends, and many activities to engage parents and young children in. Let’s not forget about high speed internet connection, music, connecting with the grandparents and entertainment. We embraced it all.
Yoga and mindfulness have been my guiding star and making mistakes is also a part of the journey, which builds resilience in the process. Our children are naturally drawn to what their parents practice and learn by example. Parents and teachers can teach them everything under the sun, but if we don’t practice what we preach, they’re not going to follow much of it either. Introducing yoga and mindfulness (yes, they go hand in hand for the little humans too) has been a gift for my kids and my husband. Over the years, it has (and still does) helped us connect at different times of the day- especially at the start of our day, on our daily commutes and before bedtime.
We introduced our children to simple yoga asanas as a way to get their bodies moving. They love the kids version of Surya Namaskaram (sun salutations). It’s all very playful and interactive and nothing like what an adult practice looks and feel like. Kids yoga also introduces them to different breathing exercises. We have easy peasy names for simple breathing techniques and they use their favorite ones when they are feeling anxious, overexcited and sometimes even bored. And with some amazing children’s books out in the stores and library, we learn something new everyday.
Chanting mantras is another practice my children love to do. Sometimes they do so with hand gestures that we call mudras. I’ve learnt more mantras in the last 7 years than I did when I was growing up. Mandala art is a favourite weekend activity with their younger cousin brother. They come up with their own ideas now that they’ve grasped its concept. Mantras and mandalas help children to relax and stay present in the moment.
Currently, my husband and I are consciously trying to inculcate the yamas (guidelines to describe the ways of interacting with the world) and niyamas (guidelines to nurture self harmony and inner peace) in our children’s daily routine. We are taking baby steps in explaining these topics in a very child friendly language.
And yes, we stumble along the way when the kids experience a meltdown, tantrum and we have some not so good days. However, we take it in our stride and this strengthens our own practice of being present in the moment with the knowledge that this too shall pass.
Getting started with a yoga practice at home or in a class is very simple. Children are naturally very open to experiences, even though some younger ones take a little more time with new ideas. What you need:
- An open mind and a smile
- Create a time and space for your “yoga” session together
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Start with an affirmation and a breathing exercise
- Derive inspiration from nature for poses
- Practice moving meditation or mandala art
- Close the practice with a mantra and a smile
By Babita Rajan