Once your child is born, you’ll do almost everything with them for the next few short years. You’ll join in on their activities, classes, playdates, etc. And as they grow, they will start to separate by going to school, kids-only classes, and you’ll start to drop off at friends’ homes and birthday parties. It’s all bittersweet — you want them to grow and be confident without you there, but at the same time, you might be missing some of the activities and classes that you once took together. Now you wait outside for things to end and hope to hear all about what you missed. As a parent and a children’s yoga business owner, I felt this hard when it came time for separation. Do we have to separate ourselves from all of our children’s activities? No, we don’t!
You may not get on the soccer field and play in your kid’s game, get on the stage and dance at your child’s recital, but you can do yoga next to them forever. No matter what age!
Family yoga is so much fun for the whole family. And you don’t have to like or be good at yoga in order to do yoga with your child. When I teach family yoga, partner and group poses are emphasized. Parents aren’t there just to be there — they are actively participating throughout, experiencing yoga in a playful and connective way. In family yoga, there is an ebb and flow of going inward and outward, focusing on bonding and being playful together.
Even though I’ve taught this class every Saturday for over a decade, I’ve also experienced this class as a parent. One of the most exciting memories that I have is when my daughter was finally old enough, strong enough and ready enough to be the base to our bunkbed pose! It was so empowering for her to support me for once after years of being the base.
It’s such a rewarding experience to teach this class, but also to witness all the laughter, creativity and love that’s shared in each class — between parent and child, siblings, spouses and the community. Families get to know each other, parents connect with other parents and kids make friends, too.
During the pandemic something amazing happened — family yoga became a global family yoga class. In person, family yoga was typically the immediate family; maybe once in a while when grandma was visiting she would come to class, too. When we went into lockdown, family yoga actually grew. The current families invited their siblings and cousins, expanding on their own family experience while still connecting in the community. New families joined and made weekly connections and invited their extended families and friends. Families were joining from other states in the U.S., and from England, Chile, Canada, Brazil and France. Everyone started to connect more each week, and before you knew it when class would end, we would all stay on the Zoom talking about recipes, activities, show and tells, venting, crying and consoling … but most importantly, connecting and finding support from family yoga. And while moving our bodies, breathing and learning tools, we also extend the opportunity to do things with our child as they grow older and more independent. Pure magic and a silver lining in the pandemic.
My daughter stopped coming to my family yoga classes at around age 12. She wasn’t as into it and preferred to sleep late. Though this made me sad, I had made peace with it and continue to bond with my child in other ways. But while stuck home the past year and a half (at the start of the pandemic, Layla was 14.5 years and she is turning 16 this fall), she joined every family yoga class on Zoom, Instagram and YouTube. Specifically for partner poses. She agreed to help since I was inexperienced in teaching online classes. She became director/producer and assistant magic maker in my classes during the pandemic, and was also an active player in family yoga. We reconnected through yoga, play, music, puppets, silliness — so many jokes and giggle moments. It was like having a best friend with you while teaching. We would laugh out loud at ourselves, say weird things to each other that no one else could hear, do our partner poses and note how they’ve changed now that she’s taller than me!
I’m so grateful for family yoga. I love bringing families together for new experiences and opportunities to express ourselves. And even as the teacher that shares this, it was a unique surprise to experience it all over again with my own teenager.
Photo by Luke Volpe.