STRETCH OUT, SLOW DOWN, CONNECT! Doing Yoga Together!

—Melissa Johnson, PhD
Psychologist, CEO of the Institute for Girls’ Development

What do you and your kids do to de-stress in our hustle bustle hurry up world? Moving our bodies, stretching, challenging our physical selves are all great ways to release our everyday tensions. Yoga is one movement modality that is gaining popularity with kids and adults. Schools and after school programs are increasingly offering yoga as a non-competitive alternative to sports that addresses physical and health standards. Current research supports the benefits of yoga for flexibility, balance, coordination, focus, and cooperation. Here at the Institute we are also interested in the value of yoga for enhancing body image and comfort in our own bodies. In this media saturated world, girls are bombarded with messages about their bodies – what their bodies are supposed to look like to meet stereotyped impossible standards. Many parents ask us, “What can we do to help our daughter feel good about her body and who she is?” Helping girls experience their bodies as a source of comfort and fun is a great starting place. “Yoga practice is one way I come home to myself,” shares Tarrah Harnden, MA, MFT, certified yoga instructor, and Institute facilitator of Stand Up! Stretch Out! Fun physical movement, including yoga, can help us find our body comfort and “come home to ourselves.” Here are 3 benefits of doing yoga with your child.

It’s fun! Doing yoga together is a form of playing together. And, playing together has all kinds of benefits for our brains, our bodies and our relationships! There might be laughter, physical challenges, and the value of a shared experience – all good stuff!

It helps build comfort in our own skin! Yoga gives us a chance to pay attention to body sensations and experiences, from the inside out. It’s not about how we look; it’s about a mindful awareness of what we are experiencing on the inside. I often ask girls who enjoy yoga, “what pose do you like to do when you want to relax? Or increase your energy? Or feel strong before facing a challenge?” I love listening to girls’ answers as they think about their internal wisdom. When parents are also into yoga, it can be a lively conversation, comparing favorite poses for various benefits.

It’s relaxing! We move very fast these days. Being able to slow down and stretch out is a gift to ourselves and our relationships. When we take that deep relaxing breath and settle into the present moment, we are able to notice each other in fresh ways. These sweet moments of relaxed connection allow us to respond to our kids with groundedness and ease.

Want to try it out? You can do yoga with your daughter this Sunday at the Institute for Girls’ Development. Join Tarrah Harnden, MA, MFT for Stand Up! Stretch Out! A workshop for girls (ages 7 – 11) and parents and/or adult kin. http://www.instituteforgirlsdevelopment.com/portfolio/stand-up-stretch-out-2/
Search online for other yoga opportunities for kids (girls and boys), including Yoga House in Pasadena.