Yoga… with a toddler? Is that even possible? Imagining a serene studio full of rambunctious “threenagers” pushing their boundaries with full resistance to authority is enough to make most parents cringe. But sharing yoga practice with your young ones at home can positively impact their growth and development as deeply as it has influenced your own life.
Physical Activity and Motor Skills
Exploring, moving, and learning occurs on a constant basis, and if young ones are not given an opportunity to do so they will find one! Just like adults, they require a certain amount of active play time every day for overall wellness. Kidshealth.org recommends at least thirty minutes of structured and sixty minutes of unstructured play. While guiding your toddler through a simple flow of asanas can be organized, rolling out the yoga mat also invites the freedom of creative expression through movement.
Fostering the Body, Mind, and Spirit Connection
Ages two and three are prime developmental ages for learning to understand the connection between their body, mind, and spirit. Young children are naturally in tune with these components of Self and quite intuitive beings. We have the honor and privilege of using this openness to teach (and learn) how one affects the others and raise the next generation to be more aware of themselves and the world around them. With every lesson we share with them, they return the favor by reminding us to reconnect with the simple joys of our inner child.
Learning Emotional Regulation Skills
If you’ve spent more than twenty minutes with a two or three year old, you have witnessed the emotional whirlwind that toddlerhood often brings. While the term “toddler tantrum” is heard again and again, we are simply witnessing their big emotions expressed in the only ways they know how. Through yoga, we as parents and care providers can give them tools to understand and manage their emotions in a healthy way, benefitting the entire household! Through practicing yoga together, my two year old has learned that when she is feeling emotionally overwhelmed or frustrated, taking a quick break to breathe deeply and stretch helps her feel better. If we are able to implement such simple techniques at a young age, imagine the anger, pain, and violence we can rid the world of as these children grow to become independent adults!
Dedicated Time for YOU to Slow Down
Toddlers can be exhausting to keep up with. Between parenting and managing the other intensities of your busy life, taking time to hit a studio class or practice regularly at home is often a challenge. It can be tempting to let your own practice slide in favor of the work to-do list or endless piles of dishes and laundry, so when your toddler is excited to initiate yoga time it helps keep you dedicated and inspired. On days when your mind is running as fast as your child, it is helpful to have a routine where you slow down and breathe together.
Quality Bonding Time
Practicing yoga together with my own two year old daughter has been one of our most treasured activities together. It began with her rolling, crawling, and weaving under and around me as I flowed through asanas and has grown into a powerful bonding experience. She knows that rolling out my mat is an invitation into our own little world together, uninhibited by external distractions. No electronic screen, to-do list, or chore is going to take my attention away from our cohesive experience with one another.
My yoga practice is far less serene than it used to be. My flow is often interrupted and long peaceful meditation is saved for early morning or after bedtime. Yet sharing the beautiful lifestyle of yoga with my toddler and understanding the immensity of this gift together as a tool of love is powerful. While I enjoy sharing the giggles and growth now, I can smile deeply knowing that this fun we label as “yoga” will be something special in her life long beyond my physical presence on her mat.