By Jodi Hwang, Photos by Elliot deBruyn
Whether you are an experienced yogi or have never done a downward dog, a family yoga practice can help parents and children unwind and connect. Family yoga might not always look like a traditional yoga practice and requires a little more creativity and fun to keep little ones interested. Setting aside a half hour or more to come together in a healthy and non-competitive setting – a break from the hurried overscheduled pace most families have - will leave everyone more relaxed and breathing easier.
If bad weather or heavy pollution has your children stuck inside, make some room for your family to move together. Yoga done together might also redirect energy if the kids are acting out or bouncing off the walls from cabin fever. In warmer weather, family yoga could also be done outside in a grassy area or on a holiday at the beach.
A family yoga practice could be structured similar to regular yoga classes with a warm-up, some playful active poses, a few balance or partner poses and ending with relaxation. Keep the flow natural and be flexible if one member of the family is uninterested or struggling to keep up. In the end, you’ll feel more bonded if everyone is included. For parents, it’s also a chance to be present and open up to the kid inside of you.
To inspire your family to try yoga together, we asked Shanghai residents Pablo Carriquiry Gomez and Maria Ricucci and their children Miguel, 9, Martina, 4, and Gabriel, 2, to spend an afternoon at Karma Life Yoga’s Laoximen studio to demonstrate a simple family practice.
Be creative and find a way to make every member of the family connect in this blooming pose.
Have your child come into this pose on the ground first then slowly lift up, placing hands on child’s arms, and gently swing back and forth.
Line up the shortest to the tallest in a wide-legged stance with arms open wide. To make the pose more active, the group could one by one jump feet together and bring arms alongside the body.
The parent comes to child’s pose with knees on the floor sitting back on the heels of the feet. The child sits down on the parents lower back, then slowly lies back holding the parent’s hands and stretching legs in front.
Tickling Feet Partner Pose
Line up two similar sized family members on the floor, with the top of the heads gently touching, then bringing hands under bottom, gently swing feet overhead until toes or feet are touching.
Quiet down and listen to each other’s breath by placing your head on another family member’s belly. Stay in this calming and quieting pose for as long as the family feels comfortable.
If you want a little more guidance and space for your practice, try one of these classes around town.
Karma Life Pucheng Lu Center
This Pudong studio offers parent and child classes (for children age 6 and over) the last two Saturdays of each month. Free for Karma Life members and guests.
// 160 Pucheng Lu浦城路160号,近商城路(5882 4388, www.karmalifeyoga.com)
Nestled down a lane off Fuxing Lu, this boutique studio offers a family yoga class, as well as a kids’ class, and mom and baby classes for the younger set.
// 3/F, 100 Fuxing Xi Lu, by Yongfu Lu复兴路100号近武康路 (158 2187 3325, www.yogagarden.com)