All in the Family
Being a parent doesn't have to mean zero personal time and a slimmed-down social life. Today yoga classes are not just for the super-fit, super-flexible, and super-serious. Anyone and everyone can find a class that suits his or her needs—including parents and children.
Consider opening your studio's doors to families. Let parent and child classes evolve out of your pre- and postnatal offerings, and evoke more play, creativity, and spontaneity in your teachings so that yoga time can be family time.
Parent and child yoga classes deliver the same mental and physical benefits as any other yoga class: peace of mind, relaxation, and increased bodily strength and flexibility. The perks don't stop there, though.
"For parents, I think it is amazing to have a place to come and exercise without having to find childcare. They network with other parents and can share advice on sleep tricks, strollers, and nursing," says Kate Wise, owner of Yo Mama Yoga in Santa Monica, CA.
Michelle Wing, Founder and Executive Director of San Francisco’s It’s Yoga, Kids, appreciates how parent/child yoga classes offer families the opportunity to come together in a non-competitive and healthy environment.
“In many communities, children are often ‘dropped-off’ for extracurricular activities,” Wing says. “In addition, adults and kids are often over-scheduled, stressed-out, and just plain busy. One hour a week of being present without expectations is a sweet gift and a huge bonding experience for families.”
For new moms and dads, the transition into parenthood also infuses one's practice with a deepened sense of offering and devotion, observes Joung-Ah Ghedini-Williams, a yoga instructor based in Bangkok, Thailand, who specializes in pre- and postnatal and mommy and me classes.
"Women practice yoga in these classes for the health, happiness, and well-being of not only themselves but for someone even more precious to them. That infuses their practice with a brilliance that is breathtaking."
For children, Wise finds that these classes plant the seeds of a future yoga and meditation practice.
"They are watching their mom or dad taking care of themselves," she adds. "To see a spiritual or health practice modeled by their parents is invaluable."
Opening the Door to Families
Expanding your teaching to parents and young children can also bring a breath of fresh air and enthusiasm to your classes.
"I began teaching Mommy and Me yoga just after September 11, and it filled me with hope for the future," says Wise.
"There is nothing like teaching a yoga class and being surrounded by bright, excited new beings," she adds. "Two-year-olds are not picky about the placement of their mat or the temperature of the room."
Geared for children ranging in age from six weeks to six years, parent and child yoga classes offer families a valuable bonding opportunity within a supportive, communal environment. In addition, it allows mothers to recover physically from the birth process.
Ghedini-Williams sees how important it is for new mothers to resume their yoga practice soon after delivery.
"I love to provide the chance for these women to move and breathe and feel strong again," she says. "I remind them that by nurturing themselves and finding stillness, they will be able to offer so much more to themselves and their families."
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