Yoga Thoughts: Get Em While They’re Young

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I’m not sold on the work hard, play hard mentality with a double shot of sharing everything with your 1,000 closest friends. In my candid opinion that sounds like hard x hard with a side order of external validation. 

When, where and how do we learn the softer side of Self Care and that true balance comes from within?

To some degree I believe we learn our habits- fitness, eating, self-image, self-sabotage- from our childhoods. I also believe we have the free will to make necessary changes if we do not care for what was provided in our toolkits… and yes, it requires effort. Sorry, no shortcuts… or backsies. 

Thinking back on my family, my mother was never big on exercise likely thanks to her naturally willowy frame paired with her limited endurance for putting in effort. Occasionally speed-walking early in the morning to Prince’s Purple Rain is all I can remember as far as her exertion and all I ever will remember when I hear that song. In her late years I saw my mother lose her mobility from year to year, having never really learned to care for her body. When she passed at the young age of 67 she could only walk short distances in an awkward sort of hobbling gait.

My father was a soccer referee. On many an occasion he dragged me weekend-long tournaments in Bakersfield or some other look-alike facility with fields as far as the eye can see and left me to wander aimlessly around from dawn until dusk. He’d give me $5 for nachos or a corn dog and there was an orange cooler filled with lemon-lime Gatorade strapped to the back of his truck. No cell phones back then, I simply had the joy of trekking from field to field if I needed to find him. I began playing soccer out of necessity in order to kill the boredom. 

I think team sports tend to be the norm for kids in terms of physical activity and as we grow we continue to play until our interest weans or bodies quit. From then what? As young adults our options seem to open up to whatever our new school/work schedules can accommodate and our measly paychecks can afford. 

When did self-restoration come into play? When do we learn to check-in with our bodies… maybe even our spirits? What about breathing, stretching and getting centered? 

When do we learn the types of self-care and self-validation that don’t require an external input such as Facebook or Instagram likes, retail therapy, food or alcohol?

Answer: Probably not soon enough. 

As a parent I find myself wanting to give my children tools that I wish I had at an earlier age and a key one of those is Yoga. If I can help them establish a practice the provides even some physical, mental and spiritual balance then I think I deserve an award. I think, what if I knew about stress management even earlier? Or even the concept of Zen?

For help with this I reached out to my dear friend Dani, mom, yogi and co-founder of the Mama Cocoon in Ventura. I also wrote about how Dani inspires me in Tribal Inspiration: Finding Your Core Values. I asked her for a short routine I could start with the babes where they could learn some foundational yoga and have some fun. Thank you Dani, WE LOVE IT! 

*Don’t overthink the breathing or any of it. Do your best, move and have fun. We stopped for a snack break, a giggly dog pile, a couple airplanes and a mom-pony. 

Toddler Yoga Sequence:

  • Child’s Pose
    • Begin in Child’s Pose. Breathe. 
    • Stretch arms over to the right. Breathe. Repeat on the left.
  • Neck & Back Warm Up  
    • Sit up with legs crossed. Using your right hand gently pull your head over to the right. Breathe. Repeat on the left. Repeat each side 3x.
    • Reach hands up tall overhead and then walk hands forward on the ground. Breathe. Switch how legs are crossed and repeat.
    • Move onto hands and knees for Cat/Cow. Breathe in Cow, breathe out Cat. Repeat 6x. Moos and Meows are Mandatory!
  • Rag Doll
    • Lift legs into Down Dog. Breathe. 
    • Walk hands back to feet for Rag Doll. Grab elbows and hang for 5 breaths. 
  • Sun Affirmations
    • Halfway Lift, Fold. 
    • Slowly roll up to standing with arms lifted overhead. Breathe. 
    • Halfway Lift to Plank/Plank on Knees to Chaturanga. 
    • Up Dog, Down Dog. Breathe. 
    • Walk to the top of mat and repeat Sun Affirmations 3x.  
  • Warriors
    • From Down Dog bring right leg forward and rise into Warrior 1.
    • Warrior 2
    • Reverse Warrior
    • Move through Chaturanga
    • Repeat on left side
  • Chair pose
    • Walk to the top of mat and Halfway Lift 
    • Chair Pose. Breathe. 
    • Bring hands into Prayer and twist to the right. Breathe
    • Center 
    • Repeat on the left. Breathe.
    • Center 
    • Fold
    • Halfway Lift, Fold. 
    • Move through Chaturanga and end in Down Dog. 
    • Child’s Pose. Breathe.
  • Happy Baby & Twist
    • Roll onto back and hug knees to chest.
    • Rock and roll for a back massage.
    • Grab outsides of feet for Happy Baby. Breathe. 
    • Bring right knee in and hold while straightening left leg. Twist. 
    • Repeat on left. 
  • Shavasana 
    • Relax, chill out and take deep breaths. 

Again, have fun and laugh. Laughter is the best therapy. Just try and don’t overthink it. Even the masters had to start somewhere right? 

If you are interested in more toddler yoga resources, there are tons out there. Here are some I found with a mermaid theme bonus (because why not?):

Kids Yoga Stories

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