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All in the Family

It may seem complicated to manage the needs of parents and their children in a yoga setting, but parent and child classes offer your students moments of calm and connection amid the chaos of parenting.

By Sara Avant Stover

parentandchild

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.



Benefits Abound

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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Reader Comments

Glory Last

I have been teaching family yoga in Toronto Ontario for 10 years. The benefits of families and friends joining together in a circle practicing yoga, focusing on their bodies, their breath and fun. The experience always amazes me on how much joy this combination can bring to everyone.
It's a very rewarding experience!

Tonya Norman

I teach yoga at my local YMCA. They have asked me to run a parent/child yoga class, which I would love to do. Finding any instructional manuals or videos to learn this technique is difficult. I just read YJ's article called "All In The Family". I would like to see more information about this subject. What better way to bring parent and child closer together and fight childhood obesity.

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