As we set off on the adventure of a new year, our focus returns to creating new habits. For families, especially families with children, it can be easy to start a lot of projects to try and sign the kids up for a bunch of new activities. For some people, this approach works, for others, it can be overwhelming. Either way, being intentional to set realistic and achievable goals can be a positive way to teach kids about motivation, achievement, and the importance of goals. Yoga is a style of exercise that focuses on mindfulness, and accepting where your body is now, and embracing growth and change over time. Because of this focus on slow improvement, it can be a good form of exercise to practice as a family. Everyone can be at different levels of flexibility and strength and not have to compete with one another.
Let’s make 2022 a year about mindfulness, coming together, and getting healthy! Here are twelve poses to master as a family in 2022.
- January – Bow pose We just spent December celebrating the holidays by eating a lot of yummy food and seeing family. While the holidays are wonderful, they can be stressful. Bow pose is the perfect pose to master in January because it can stimulate digestion – especially beneficial after all those cakes and pies – and improve posture. To do this pose, have everyone lie on their stomach, arch their backs, and grab their ankles. Holding this pose. The better you get, the lower on your feet you will be able to grab, and the higher you will be able to lift your body.
- February – Supine Spinal Twist This pose opens the chest and is good for the heart. It is also good for the obliques. To do this pose, everyone lies down on their back, extend one leg, and bend the other at the knee. Bring the bent knee across the body, extend the arm not holding the knee out, and turn your head in the opposite direction of the knee. Hold this pose, and then switch. Overtime, each person will be able to bring their knees further across the body and create a deeper twist.
- March – Downward Facing Dog One of the best poses for engaging the whole body, downward facing dog engages the hamstring, arm muscles, and stimulates blood flow. To do this pose, everyone starts on their hands and knees. Bring your hands in front of your body, spread your fingers a bit, and tuck your toes. Lift your knees off the ground, straighten your elbows and knees as much as possible. Not everyone will be able to straighten their knees completely at first. Over time, people will be able to create a V-shape with their body, flat feet, and flat palms.
- April – Tree Pose Helping kids grow like trees is part of what a healthy lifestyle can do. Tree pose can help kids understand the process of growing up, as well as help create balance and strengthen people’s core. Tree pose starts standing, with both feet on the floor. One knee is then bent and brought up the leg; it can be by the ankle, the calf, or above the knee, just not on the knee. Once the knee is in place, stand up straight, and place the hands in front of the heart. After holding it, do the same on the other side.
- May – Mountain Pose Some yoga poses are not difficult, but they are important to practice because they can help children become more aware of their muscles, their posture, and their physicality, which can make them more graceful and athletic. This pose is achieved by standing up straight, lowering the shoulder blades, opening the hands out, and engaging the core. Eventually, the muscles engaged will increase, and the pose will be easier to hold for longer periods of time.
- June – Happy Baby Pose The happy baby pose makes for a happy spine and can help improve other poses like downward facing dog, by engaging the hamstrings. It starts by laying on the back, bending the knees at a 90-degree angle. Everyone should grab their feet and keep the knees apart. Rock back and forth. It is a great pose that kids often find fun.
- July – Chair Pose There is nothing lazy about sitting in this chair. It is great for stretching out the whole body and strengthening legs, ankles, and the back. It can also build stamina and endurance. Start by standing up, then slowly bend your knees while shifting your weight toward your ankles, sink back as deep as you can, but stop before it gets painful. Lift up your hands above your head. This pose can be hard to hold, so practicing it regularly will be a great way to talk about how slow and steady work can get big results with your kids.
- August – Cobra Pose Pretending to be an animal can be a fun way to get kids engaged with exercise, especially if they are very young. Cobra pose is not only fun but stretches muscles in the chest and abdomen and works the back of the body. You start cobra pose laying on your stomach and bringing your hands next to your chest with your elbows bent. Straighten your elbows, lifting the chest and stomach off the crowd. As you improve in this pose, you can even lift your thighs off the ground.
- September – Standing Forward Fold Once you feel comfortable with mountain pose, use it as the root for practicing forward folds. This fold will help kids learn to protect their back, which will be important if they start playing a sport or lifting weights when they get older and stretch the back of the legs. Get into mountain pose and make sure the feet are parallel. Slowly bend over from your hips, trying to keep your top half of your body close to your legs. This may be difficult. Overtime, this pose can help kids touch their toes, as well as learn how to move from their hips, rather than from their lower back.
- October – Flower Pose Flowers are bright, colorful, and can be a source of joy; flower pose increases balance and coordination and strengthens the core. Start by sitting on the floor, bending your knees while sitting upright, and weave your arms under your legs. Keep your arms straight and your legs elevated. What a challenge!
- November – Bridge Pose The bridge pose opens the center of the body while strengthening the back, but it can also help increase focus, since it requires balance from another position. It starts by laying on the back and bending the knees. Slowly lift the back and create a triangle with your body. Try to keep your weight in your feet and keep it off your neck. This can be repeated slowly for a good core workout.
- December – Legs Up the Wall Not every yoga pose needs to be a difficult standing pose or engage the core. Legs up the wall, is straight forward. Everyone lies on their back, straightens their legs up the wall, and holds it for a period. It is a great pose to do before bed. It is good for lengthening your hamstrings and can even be done on the bed for kids who may be high energy when they need to be winding down for the night.
It is a new year, and we are all excited to move toward new opportunities. Using yoga to channel energy and bond as a family can be a great way to make 2022 the best year ever.