- Courtesy of Nicci Micco
- Nicci Micco and son Jules
I'm a yoga teacher. I'm also the mom of two boys — 8-year-old Jules and 6-year-old Kai. I wish I could say the convergence of these roles means that every night I lead our family through thoughtful yoga sequences, and every morning I meditate away any chance of flipping out on my kids. But I'd totally be lying. However, I do try to weave yoga into our lives on most days. The result? Greater calm and enlightenment — of a certain sort. (A loud sort.) Looking for realistic ways to bring yoga into your family life? Try these tips.
For the kids:
Keep it fun. Engaging my guys in an all-out yoga session takes some effort. They're usually most receptive before dinner or bedtime. To hold their interest, I play into their latest obsessions. Once I created a Ninjago-themed class with a custom playlist. We did a lot of warrior moves. Another time, I integrated Lego Chima characters: Laval for lion pose (simhasana), Eris for eagle (garudasana), and so on. It was a raging success. Recently, I started using Cosmic Kids Yoga, which offers fun — and free — online yoga videos. The boys loved the website's Harry Potter-themed class, particularly the Sorting Hat sequence, with poses that corresponded to each House mascot: Gryffindor (lion), Slytherin (serpent), Hufflepuff (badger), and Ravenclaw (eagle).
Strike spontaneous poses. Teach your kids the names of yoga poses and, perhaps, how to say them in Sanskrit. When their energy is spiraling out of control, call out a pose for them to try. Balancing postures, such as eagle and tree (vriksasana) — which require a certain amount of concentration — are best bets for rowdy children. If you have your phone handy, snap a pic to show them how strong they look. These pics are extra satisfying when taken in a pretty setting.
Hook them with fascinating tales. At home, we talk so much about Ganesh, the Hindu god known as the remover of obstacles, that my kids scream his name any time they see an elephant. Myths of the Asanas: The Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition, by Alanna Kaivalya and Arjuna van der Kooij, delivers captivating stories about the deities and sacred animals behind yoga poses. My kids' favorite story is the goriest one in the book, where Virabhadra — a fierce warrior the god Shiva creates from one of his dreadlocks — bursts through the ground, uninvited, into a fancy party, draws his sword and chops off the head of his lover's father. For more yoga myths and philosophy set to dope beats, check out musician MC Yogi's Elephant Power.
- Courtesy of Nicci Micco
- Kai (middle) and friends
Roll out your mats. Making time to practice yoga may seem self-indulgent; consider it an investment in the common calm. Don't believe me? Take it from Zen master Thích Nhat Hanh: "If you establish serenity and happiness inside yourself, you provide the world with a solid base of peace." Have a co-parenting partner who could use some self-care, too? Consider starting date night with yoga. Heading to dinner all blissed-out, you're more likely to talk about dreams or creative pursuits than needing cat litter or upcoming school obligations.
Embrace yoga ethics. More than a physical practice, of course, yoga is based upon ethical principles, called yamas and niyamas, which include nonviolence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), and self-discipline (tapas), to name a few. Familiarizing yourself with these concepts may help you live and model a more peaceful life. They'll also help you survive, or perhaps even find meaning in, tough parenting moments — like when your kid is throwing a tantrum at the grocery store. "If I can endure this experience without losing my sh*t, it will transform me." That's tapas. A great primer on the topic is The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice, by Deborah Adele.
Breathe. When it feels like the world is crumbling down — the kid is throwing kumquats, school is cancelled and you have a giant presentation, current events are making you anxious — stop and center yourself. Like this: inhale, exhale, repeat. Sounds crazy, but it works.
Get Out and Om
Evolution Prenatal Family & Yoga Center has a monthly Parents' Night Out, where kids engage in themed yoga activities and eat pizza while parents enjoy a couple of kid-free hours. The studio also offers drop-in Saturday classes for kids ages 3 to 7, and a variety of baby and kids' class series and camps.
Spark Youth Yoga hosts mindful movement classes for kids at a variety of venues.
Karmic Connection Yoga offers Acro Yoga (think: yoga + acrobatics) events, including birthday parties.
Try These Date-Night Combos
- Laughing River + Tiny Thai, Winooski
- Evolution + Citizen Cider, Burlington, South End
- Yoga Roots + The Bearded Frog Bar & Grill, Shelburne
- Sangha Studio or Burlington Yoga + Revolution Kitchen, Burlington, Downtown