Family Yoga

Written by Justin Lincoln

On May 20, 2020

Peaceful Warriors includes as part of its mission a commitment to “family yoga.” What’s so special about family yoga? Well, lots, actually, especially in this time of isolation, quarantine, anxiety, and uncertainty.

Yes, it’s now common knowledge that yoga helps reduce experiences of anxiety and depression. But we’re going to look at some other factors here. Let’s start with yoga itself. Yoga sutra 1.2 says, “We become whole by stopping how the mind turns” (Roach and McNally). And how much is your mind turning right now? 

This statement does not just apply to grown ups! Parents, by and large, want to help their children become whole, too. Introducing children to yoga sets them on the path to wholeness at an early age. With yoga, then, it becomes realistic to envision a future that doesn’t involve adults having to unlearn much of what’s been learned earlier in life. Instead, those adults – today’s children! – may already have a notion of “wholeness” that escapes most of us currently!

According to psychiatrist Dan Siegel, developing minds thrive on trust, attunement, and connection. The practice of yoga within a family nurtures all of these principles. For starters, think of the myriad ways that we learn to trust ourselves and others through participating in an interactive form of yoga. Siegel also talks about the dangers of developing a “lack of coherence.” Family yoga, particularly in the context of an ongoing pandemic like this, facilitates the process of children – and adults – constructing some meaning from such an anxiety-provoking experience, so that we’re not left feeling utterly helpless and chaotic.

The act of families engaging in yoga together also provides an opportunity for parents to transmit and model important values. This is something that parents do all the time, for example when they read to their children, engage in any other activity together, from skiing to recycling to participating in a social justice demonstration. Regardless of what parents do – or don’t do – children are receiving subtle but strong messages about what’s important in life. 

And right now, we’re perfectly positioned to model ways to move through obstacles toward the creation of ways of being that are qualitatively different, more just. This is, of course, not a matter of indoctrination. Mother Teresa quote, “You will teach them to fly, but they will not fly your flight.” The values that parents can model doing yoga include self-care, emotion regulation, and the importance of spiritual practice.

Finally, it’s just fun! Doing yoga as a family promotes play and fun together. Play therapists have long appreciated the wisdom that children both learn and communicate through play. At all times – and definitely now! – it’s important that we cultivate that delicate balancing act between viewing difficulties realistically, and not taking things too seriously. 

Do you do yoga as a family? How, why, and what are your experiences? Please share them with us! Post them in the comments. Look for upcoming events on our website, and bring your family!

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