Henry is now 18 months old, and I get asked a lot if I practice yoga with him.
Henry is very active. He literally climbs walls and swings from curtains.
He would surely benefit from some relaxing practice right? But yoga with this toddler is a total disaster!
He fills my mat with things, he climbs on top of me, grabs, pulls, and shouts. And he pretty much refuses to join in and try things or copy me. It is like he is jealous of yoga. Is that possible?
He has always been active. When Henry was brand new born he was clearly frustrated with the lack of movement his babiness allowed him. And as he has become more mobile this frustration has eased.
But chill out and practice yoga, or let me? Not so bothered! Sit still for a moment, join in, or even be held whilst I practise – as you see in those beautiful mother and baby yoga pictures – NEVER! HE JUST HATES YOGA!!!!
So, here is what I have learnt about practicing yoga with babies and toddlers that might help you should you find you have some crazy offspring of your own (despite your best efforts to calm them or introduce yoga asana from feotus).
- See it as an act of meditation in itself. Try and ignore the crazy going on/being inflicted upon you whilst you do your best at some forward bends and gentle lunges.
- Accept that 5 mins is better than none.
- Make peace with what asana practice really is for this phase in your life with a little one.
- Practice when they are asleep. I confess this is not my preferred option. Most of us need this time to rest/clean/wash/shower/shop etc etc. And in the evenings I am simply too tired. But, I do know others that this works for it.
- Practice first thing. A light breakfast, and some tv babysitting and I can usually get a good 30-40 mins in. It is still broken and invloves a lot of being climbed on etc, but it is defo better. And I have a little more energy usually at this time of day to cope with the lifting up putting down and need to further distract the little man.
- Get a babysitter, arrange a play swap, organise a mums/dads yoga get together and encourage the children play together. Weather we are fulltime parents, working parents, step parents, whatever. Having little ones is an unforgiving lesson in how precious time really is. Every day things that were simple before become a time consuming juggling act if they are to be attempted at all, let alone completed.
- Lower your expectations. If your little one is like mine it can be frustrating as to why they just wont join in or let you get on. They might take to it one day. Maybe they will always not be fussed about yoga?! In the meant time asana practice will simply be what it is. Restricted, diluted, distracted, short. My old range, muscle tone, flexibility, strength, and my cleaner body and muscles will simply have to wait a bit longer. Lowering my expectations of my own practice, and of what practice with a little one is, has certainly helped me just get on and enjoy what I can do.
If you have any similar experiences or advice please share in the comments below. I would love to hear them.
Charlotte & Henry xx