Anyone out there ever try to squeeze in a yoga routine with a toddler hanging on your leg? Or around your neck? It isn't the easiest thing in the world. I have a toddler myself, and I struggled trying to entertain him for 30 minutes while I worked out. Even when I was able to keep him occupied, I wasn't able to achieve my "zen" state with Elmo blaring in the background.
But I've found a solution, and it works for both of us.
I now incorporate him and involve him in my yoga routine. You should see his downward dog!
Here are a few ways you can incorporate your children into your yoga routine as well! Feel free to get creative. The more you involve your toddler or baby, the less they will keep you from getting in your yoga. As an added bonus, exercising together is a great way to bond and set a good example.
Both mother and child lay on their bellies. You can face each other or lay next to each other (whichever your toddler agrees to). Lift your head and shoulders off of the floor. Place your hands under your shoulders. As you lift up, make several hissing sounds at your child. Watch as they imitate you and giggle. Hold for 3 hissing breaths before lowering your head down to the mat and pretending to sleep. Wake up and do it again.
Sit on your mat and bring the bottoms of your feet together. Sit your baby or toddler between your legs in a similar pose. Sit up tall and make your spine straight. Rub the soles of your toddler's feet together and then open up their legs into a "V" shape. Close their feet together and rub again. Repeat a few times making fun sounds. Once they are used to the action, open your own legs into a butterfly at the same time. You'll really improve your balance!
Sit on your mat with your knees up. Face your toddler with your knees open to hip distance. Reach over and grab your toddler's hands on the outside of your legs. Extend one leg up directed outward and encourage your toddler to do the same. Then bring the other leg up in the same way. Press into each other's feet. Try to both balance on your bottom. Sit up tall and sing "Row, row, row your boat!"
Benefits of Yoga for Toddlers
Leaving your child for an hour or two to hit the yoga studio may not be a practical solution. In fact, after reading this ... you may not want to! Here are just a few reasons why you should try to do yoga with your baby or toddler.
Instilling Good Habits
You can teach your very young child to be healthy from the beginning. By showing them to exercise, you are letting them know that their health is important ... before they become addicted to TV and smartphones.
Teaching Coping Mechanisms
Toddlers need to learn how to cope. We all know that yoga teaches patience. Perhaps when your toddler gets frustrated, he or she will choose the deep breathing learned in your yoga session instead of throwing a tantrum.
It is so easy to become overwhelmed in our world today. By slowing yourself down and teaching your little one to slow down as well, you are teaching calmness. Your toddlers pick up on more than you'll ever know. Let them pick up on the fact that the world doesn't have to be this big scary place.
Expanding Motor Skills
Yoga can teach your toddler how to use muscles that they haven't learned to use yet. Balance is tough for growing kiddos, but yoga can help train the muscles that will help with posture and strength. You may just be setting your child up to become an amazing athlete.
While yoga with a toddler might not be the most relaxing way to perform yoga, it can be an amazing way to bond with your little one. You'll mimic each other, giggle and work together as a team. This bond can last for the long term!
My toddler will imitate almost all of my yoga moves now, but we started with these basic moves to get him started. You should hear him squeal the second he sees me get out the yoga mat. He loves it.
Involving your children in exercise isn't limited to yoga either. Take them out for a walk, a bike ride or even use them as weights in a routine. Dance! Sing! If your baby is small enough, you can even wear them during a workout. The options are endless. Enjoy the precious moments with your child before they are all grown up!