7 ways to do yoga with kids around

It’s oh so tempting to think you have to wait until the kids are asleep or out of the house to do anything nice for yourself. I have definitely fallen prey to this line of thinking in the past. But now I want to go on record as saying: stop the madness. If you wait until the kids aren’t your responsibility to do your yoga (or meditation, or self-hypnosis, or painting along with Bob Ross–whatever gets you in to your happy place), you will be waiting a long time. Too long.

My little yoga haven (aka, "our closet") as seen through it's most important component -- the door

There are more holes in this line of thinking than a pair of fishnet stockings. Allow me to point out just a few:

  • You’ll miss plenty of perfectly good opportunities to get your Zen on.
  • Your kids will never see you actively doing something to unwind, and will thus take a lot longer to learn how to do similar things for themselves.
  • You’ll start to resent your kids for being around, which just ain’t right.
  • You’ll be a crabby stressball.

Here are my tips for doing some yoga while the wee ones are around. Whether you’re following along with a DVD or just doing whatever pose strikes you, these guidelines can help you get a session in without having to yell at anyone. It may not end up being your most perfect practice ever, but hey, that’s why they call it practice.

  1. Set your boundaries. These boundaries can be physical or metaphysical. I set my yoga area up in our closet, which isn’t the most Zen space, but it’s in a quiet corner of the house and it has doors that I can close — a crucial and tangible piece of the puzzle. My friend who has teens tells her kids that she is going to do some yoga and they are only to disturb her in case of blood, flood, or fire — which sets a pretty clear boundaries even if you can’t see it, touch it, or close it.
  2. Attempt to go it alone. I try to do my at-home yoga when the kids are sleeping, occupied, or out of the house. But at least half the time, they wander upstairs and find me anyway. I swear they are drawn to the calm energy; it’s like a tractor beam. They can sense it. They also like to see Mommy stand on her head, which happens from time to time. 
  3. Have toys nearby. You’ve got to be careful with this one, because you want the space to be yours and at least somewhat holy. BUT, having something in there that will keep the little darlings entertained while you do a couple more poses is invaluable. I have a mini trampoline, and I purposefully left a large cabinet (that’s big enough for both of them to stand up in) empty so they’d have a place to hide. When my daughter was a baby, I had her activity mat near my yoga mat.
  4. Get an extra mat. When they invariably find you — and they will find you — having a mat for them invites them to join you. Which turns your session in to a different kind of practice, but it’s a sweet one.
  5. Let them do their thing. You can’t get all picky about their form. If you say, “let’s do downward dog” and they start rolling around on the floor, so be it. You just do your downdog and they will either join you or they won’t.
  6. Let them lead the way. My daughter’s favorite thing is to make up her own poses and then have me do them. For the most part, I am happy to.
  7. Try to rein it back in. After they’ve had their fun — either playing with the toys or doing their version of yoga — tell them, “Now it’s time for quiet time.” Then lie down on your back, close your eyes, and be still. They will either join you or get bored and walk away. Either one is great. You definitely do want to end on a quiet note for your own sake, so that your practice leaves you with a little of the serenity you were seeking in the first place. Try to stay at least one whole minute in a quiet corpse pose.

Even if you don’t get lost in what you’re doing and end feeling all blissed-out, you also just modeled some very powerful stuff for your kids. And that, as the credit card commercials say, is priceless.

What are your tricks for finding your om at home (even when little ones are hellbent on crawling on you)? I’d love to hear them.



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