Practical advice about raising children
Trying to find a different way to celebrate this Mother’s Day? Cards and flowers can be a lovely way to show mom you care, but how about some partner yoga to strengthen the bond between mother and child? Doing yoga together requires trust, connection, playfulness and a loving touch. Sounds just like mom, right? What better way to say, “Happy Mother’s Day,” than with a yoga bonding break? Here’s a fun sequence to do as a pair!
Back to back breathing:
This is a beautiful way to begin your Mother’s Day practice. Mom and child sit back to back in a cross-legged position or lotus pose, for those who can find it with ease. Pressing your backs together, gently deepen your breath. Notice if you can feel each other breathing and then for some extra amusement, try to sync up your breath until you have the same rhythm. This exercise helps to set up a connective foundation for the poses that follow, while calming busy minds through focused, diaphragmatic breathing.
Photo by Evelyn O'Doherty
Double Down Dog:
We all love the stretch we get in downward facing dog. With a partner, you can double the fun. Mom can place her palms on the ground and lift her hips into the air, looking between her legs. Little ones can do the same underneath her, or for more of a challenge, place the tops of their feet on mom’s sacrum, while pushing their palms into the ground. Gazes will be on each other and provide the opportunity to say “I love you” and do some giggling!!
Poses that require balance are always challenging, but doing tree pose with your little one is a great way to help one another. This pose can be done many ways with a partner. Try holding hands while in tree. Balancing on one foot and lifting the other to place against the standing leg (just not on the knee), observe if you can both stay up for a few breaths. Try each facing a different direction, or closing your eyes. How do you support each other and balance best? If there is more than one child, this pose is fun in a group, too. You can be a forest of trees!
Partner warrior poses:
Moms are always standing up for their kids with strength and courage, grooming them to be the most powerful warriors! Warrior poses make us feel strong and brave especially when we add a little mantra to accompany them. Start side by side, stepping back with the outside leg, placing the whole foot on the ground at a slight angle. Bend the knees of the legs that are touching in front and face hips forward. Take each other’s hands and raise them to the sky in warrior 1. Say “I am strong!” From there turn your bodies sideways, so that you are back to back with legs in the same position, and reach your arms out to the sides again, grasping each other's hands, and gazing over your front arms in Warrior 2. Say “I am brave!” From there, move back into Warrior 1 and lift your back legs in the air, slowly straightening your front leg. Reach your arms out to the sides, still holding onto one another in Warrior 3. Say, “I can soar!”
Photo by Evelyn O'Doherty
Joined child’s pose:
After supporting each other in these standing poses, come on down to the ground and relax in child’s pose together. Kneel facing one another and sit down on your heels, folding forward so your chest rests on your knees. When both of you are in this position, reach your arms out so you are touching one another and breathe. Not only is this a great stretch and way to relax but it’s a nice way to connect with love and affection. Mom can put her arms on the outside of her child’s to give her a great big hug!
To end your mother’s day practice, honor the light -- the thing that is special and wonderful about each of you -- with a few deep inhales and exhales, and bringing your hands together by your hearts, sharing a Namaste. This beautiful sanskrit word means, “I bow to you” or in more kid-friendly terms, “the light in me acknowledges the light in you.” It is a beautiful word that captures the gratitude for all mom does and for the love shared between mother and child. Namaste Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.
Susan Verde is a yoga and mindfulness teacher, and author of the picture books The Museum, I Am Yoga, You and Me and the forthcoming The Water Princess. She lives in East Hampton, New York with her three children.