Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Yoga Works its Magic on Toddlers Too

Yoga is medicine. As a teacher, I know this, but didn't realize what medicine it is for toddlers too. After my Toddler & Me classes, we all seem to shine a little bit more. The toddlers are definitely giddy. But not candy high giddy. It is a yoga high giddy. Yes, even toddlers can get a yoga buzz.

Those toddlers love that yoga energy created within the circle of yoga mats. They love hearing the adults sing and move together as one. The older ones love trying the poses; the younger ones riding on those good vibes.

Shene and daughter Chiwa
 photo by Steph Langan, IDS

When we are done, the toddlers usually seem more centered and balanced within themselves. We may not even hold poses for very long, and some of them may not even try any poses. But even still, they seem more at peace with life and ready with positive minds for their next adventure.

Actually, it is the toddlers that are in their natural environment.  They are just being themselves in the moment. The bonus is their parent/care giver is also with them in the moment, connecting, and being. That is the yoga. 

And because we are all there, having fun and open to being silly and free for that little window of time, its like the yoga works its magic. The yoga transports both toddler and adult out of regular space and time, and into a magical place of singing, moving and just being together.

I didn't fully comprehend the impact of my class until talking to one mom and her daughter after one quite large class. As I observed her sweet 17 month-old daughter with love flowing from my heart, she told me they were visiting from out of state so their daughter could have brain surgery. They had been away from home for weeks. And there it was, how could I of missed it? Her shaved head had a very long scar tracing the back of her skull.

The love I felt changed instantly to compassion for a family who was going through so much. Images of hospital waiting rooms full of grim faces, sickness, and bad vibes flooded me. I couldn't imagine being surrounded by all that for weeks upon weeks, and living through the anxiety of having a child in such risky surgery.

From one mom to another, I could feel her true appreciation for that little window of time we shared to shake off the past, and arrive joyfully in the present moment. 

This is the moment I decided to never take yoga for granted. And reminded me that as the teacher, I have no way of knowing what obstacles parents and children are facing in there lives. I just provide them with the medicine - yoga.

At the end of my classes, we sing, "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine," eventually transitioning to, "this little child of mine, I am going to let her/him shine." But I love when we end with singing, "You are My Sunshine," because our little ones are our sunshines and it is a sweet simple song to remind us that they "make me happy, when skies are gray."

Parenting in tough. Whether it is something as serious as brain surgery, or simply getting through the long daily grind of being a parent. It's hard not to get bogged down by all the rain. Going to classes like Toddler & Me Yoga help parents (and me!) remember that the most important job as parents is to just love our children and be with them as much as possible, fully present in body and mind.

Toddler &  Me yoga
Photo by Steph Langan, IDS


  1. Hi, I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your post and others on your blog. I'm a yoga teacher and first time mom of an 8-month old, and I'm looking forward to being able to share the joy of my yoga practice with my little one. We don't have any classes locally for parents and very young children, so I've been reading some books to learn about it. Can you recommend any resources/books/websites about yoga for the four and under crowd? Thanks so much--and thank you for sharing your experience as a yoga mom!

  2. Hi Zoe! Thanks so much for reading and your comment. Congrats on your new role as a yoga mom! I think intuition is your best guide, especially if you are already a yoga teacher. The best thing is to not be too ambitious, or expect too much from babies/kids. Creating a special time each day or each week to do a little practice with your child would be great. Or even just exposing your child to you doing yoga will create a positive and powerful association in their mind. Don't force anything on them. I always found, if my kids aren't into it at the moment, I just do my thing, and maybe they will come back and I will teach them a little if they want.

    For age 0 - 2 the best thing I found is combining yoga with singing, or story, to make it engaging and fun. Lately, I am working with the "Hokey Pokey" song with my 17month old. I use it in class as more of a warm up, but it helps them to learn the parts of their body, and balance/movement. Any time I start to sing it at home my daughter just lights up and focuses her complete attention on me, maybe joining in. Once they are happy and attentive, then I can slip in a "can you dot the doggy pose?" and maybe get her to do it. Then ask, "what does the doggie say?" Then ask, "can you lift your leg?" and so on. Its pretty sneaky, eh!

    I am studying the Storytime Yoga method and love it! Its for kids aged 3+. I also have the Itsy Bitsy Toddler Yoga book. It's okay. I wasn't too impressed really, but its a good place to start. I also have the Yoga Pretzels Card Deck by Barron Baptiste. I like it; its pretty handy and visually appealing. But better for a little older, maybe 4 - 10.

    And you could do what I did, and just throw yourself into it and start offering your own toddler yoga class so you and your soon-to-be toddler can have a class to practice with! Hope this helps. Feel free to ask anything else, I love sharing!

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