Yoga is a generous tool to help us personally develop our own positive mental health patterns. It can also be used to teach coping mechanisms in children.
I worked with kids since the day I became legally able to work. It’s the easiest job to get while in high school, my case, middle school. One thing that always stood out for me was my passion for developing the minds of children. I love the freedom of their imaginative thoughts. As an adult, I have to fight to keep that energy in my life. Children get it for free.
One thing they don’t get for free is the freedom of expression. They don’t always know the words to express how they are feeling or have the permission to express themselves freely. This results in outbursts and other ineffective forms of communication to process the information in the only way they know how. In these moments, we see them hyperventilate, cry, or turn their “angry” color. You know what this looks like. For tweens and teens it may look like the “silent treatment” or sound like a slammed door.
These are all emotions we process as adults too. We just have more coping mechanisms to offset them from being public displays of emotion. In fact, we might be offsetting them too much.
As adults, we can also learn from our young ones to openly express our feelings. We need reminders to let ourselves feel. I personally have to schedule a day just to cry. It is something so private and intimate that I always felt the need to protect it from others. I was off center in this practice though, because it is this outward display of emotion that actually connects us to others.
The more we connect within, the more giving we can eventually be to others. Hence, why it is so important to share your yoga practice with your children.
Here’s 3 Reasons Why You Should Share Your Yoga Practice with Your Kids
Children are the most precious human creation. To this day, my favorite sound is a child’s laughter. It is so abundant and full. Even someone with the most hardened heart can be slightly affected by witnessing this much joy. I love seeing their little bellies rumble as their laughter consumes them.
And just as they have joy, like the rest of us, they have pain. The pain is harder to understand because it is so out of place for them. They just want to feel loved and be loved.
Yoga can function as a filtration process. It is meditative in nature allowing you to go deeper into your thoughts and feelings. Even for young minds, yoga can be used as a tool to identify and connect unfamiliar feelings. Meditation and yoga practice infused with intention, encourage us to question why things feel the way they feel? How we feel about our experience? What shaped those feelings? Once you become connected to the feeling, you can then learn to efficiently process it.
Notice what happens to your body as you experience different emotions. When you get angry, do you furrow your brows? When you get scared or unsure, do you tighten your shoulder up near your ears? Think about the last time you heard shocking news; did it take your breath away? That’s the one thing all the emotions have in common is breath. Our breath is always honest even when our bodies are not. If you are uncomfortable, your breath will tell you before your body does. This is why in yoga, we say move first with your breath, because then your body will follow.
The term pranayama means life force. We practice pranayama in our yoga practice as we work specifically with our breath. Our yoga practice connects us to our breath and then serves as a tool for every moment thereafter.
I now challenge myself to take breath before I speak. This reminds me, I am in control of my own body. That is empowering in any situation. The hardest breath to take is the one where I breathe, before I speak, when I am angry. When I am angry, my breath is the first thing to go. I begin to process information erratically as a result. What about you? Sound familiar? If this happens to you, what do you think it’s like when it happens to your child.
By sharing our yoga practice with our kids, we give them yet another tool to create positive coping mechanisms in their body. Instead of ignoring the things they say during a moment of anger, encourage them to be silent, and breathe. After the breath returns to their body, it won’t feel as necessary anymore to say those awful things or behave erratically.
Yoga is about the individual practice. To create a sense of community and oneness, we join for practice in group settings. However, the breathing, the movement, the intention is practiced on an individual level. This is our personal time to be with ourselves. In that time, we learn to develop your own self- worth. We produce positive self-talk and begin to indulge in our own self-love.
I am so much more in love with myself now than I have ever been. My yoga practice has taught me to appreciate every inch of my being including my breath.
Children so desperately need to be loved. It is their lifeline.
From birth, we shower them with love as a means to comfort them and bring them joy. We provide them with whatever resource works to keep them happy. Then, eventually the day comes where they have to begin to soothe themselves. This is such a shocking and difficult moment for a child. They are so accustomed to being soothed and supported, but we can’t always give them that. No matter how much we want to. We can; however, teach them other tools to soothe themselves. It is such a precious lesson to be taught.
Everything we need to be happy and joyous is already within us. I am complete all on my own. The extra love I receive is a bonus. We shouldn’t have to wait until adulthood to be able to explore this freedom.
I wish I would’ve known how much I mattered when I was younger. So much heartache and feelings of inadequacy could’ve been spared. By sharing your yoga practice with your kids, this gift can be passed from you to them. They will learn to soothe themselves, feel empowered, and begin to develop their own self-worth.
Our yoga practice is about creating harmony within ourselves so we can be more giving to the world. Why not start right at home and begin to include your kids in your yoga and meditation practice. Arm them with these tools as early as you can.
We all have the tools we need to be the best version of ourselves. We just don’t always know how to access or initiate them.
By introducing your children to a yoga practice, you can gift them with a road map to joy. And there is no greater feeling than helping someone we love find peace in their hearts. In this, let’s remember our children. The next time you practice yoga, invite your child to practice with you at the end. Take your time to fill yourself back up and when you have what you need to be energized for the rest of the night, or week, or month; take your excess and give it away to your children. Just like all other things, they will thank you later.