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Om in the Home

YOGA WITH THE FAMILY CAN CALM THE MIND AND LIFT THE SPIRIT

Article by Kristen Fewel

Photography by Kristen Fewel

Imagine your entire day was rushed from the start and the family is barely hanging onto their sanity. In close quarters, cabin fever sets off anxiety with rampant frenetic energy, and arguments can erupt like spurts from a rice cooker letting off steam. For damage control everyone scatters to their rooms for self-imposed solitary confinement. When everyone emerges for the long evening hours into the family room, a new possibility presents itself: connecting with your family through yoga.

Imagine that all electronic devices are silenced and put away. Sitting in a circle, you take turns leading the family in some breathing connected with simple movements and gentle stretches. A satisfied calm descends upon the family and even a few giggles when arms and legs reach out across the rug and lay upon another. Afterward, you place your hands at your heart in gratitude for everyone who participated, and invite them to sing an “OM” with you—taking a deep inhale, then sounding a prolonged “o” with an “mmmm” at the end. Chanting the om several times in a long and slow manner will lengthen exhales while creating beneficial vibrations and a little incidental smile that lifts the spirit.

Yoga is good for everyone regardless of age when adapted to the needs and capabilities of the individual. Even teenagers say they enjoy yoga (although you will not believe it by the expression on their face!). Younger children enjoy yoga, too, although we may need to adjust expectations of how they participate and the duration to meet their attention span.

Although the practice of yoga is a personal thing, sharing it with the family should not be complicated or strenuous. Keep it simple so everyone can participate. If you need guidance, there is no shortage of resources that will keep everyone engaged in the process. Before the internet many people learned yoga and meditation from richly illustrated books and video tutorials which are still available through libraries and bookstores today. Another option is having weekly or biweekly direct virtual instruction from an experienced yoga and meditation teacher who can customize a class for you and your family from anywhere in the world!

Yoga is a path to a healthy body, an open mind, and a compassionate heart among many other benefits. It is generally a safe activity that can be practiced indoors, or out in the yard under a shady tree. An experienced certified teacher can help you develop your own practice as well as guide the family through safe practice, especially if anyone in your family has special needs. So, while we all are figuring out what it means to live together-- and apart-- make yoga, mindfulness, and conscious breathing a part of your daily or weekly reconnection with yourself and your family.

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