When you’re juggling a busy schedule, sometimes you need to get creative to stay active. The demands of work, family life, and community involvement often leave little room for an exercise routine, and the occasionally skipped session can become habit before you know it. One good way to keep a workout routine consistent is to combine it with family time. Enter partner yoga, a great way to engage family members while squeezing in your regular exercise routine, too.
The best part about yoga? It can be done at home. Although yoga class in a studio it is a fun way to recharge, yoga is so much easier to commit to with your family in the living room—you don’t even realizing you’re working out. To get the lowdown on partner yoga, I caught up with my favorite local yoga instructor, Jen Stone of Inner Sun Yoga in Bluemont, Virginia.
“Physical touch and physical play is a wonderful, healing, and creative way to spend time with your children,” says Stone. And once you get started, you may be surprised by the number of poses you can do that are just as feasible for kids. Here are Jen’s four favorite yoga poses for busy families who want to connect.
You and your children may already be doing this yoga exercise without even realizing it. The Superman pose strengthens the core and tummy muscles of both participants, according to Stone. “If you are recovering from a C-section, or just never got back your strong mommy belly, this one might be a bit challenging,” she says. “But it’s so good for you.”
To perform this pose, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet in the air. Your feet should ultimately rest on the front hip bones of your child partner, which are on either side of the lower belly. From here, hold hands and slowly lift your feet further up until he or she has lifted off the ground. Once balanced, encourage your child to let go of your hands and become Superman (or Superwoman)!
This next exercise, lovingly dubbed “Smasher,” is a contact improvisation activity that kids love, according to Stone.
To practice this one, lie on your belly on the floor and have your partner rest perpendicular to you over your lower back. Very slowly, have him or her log-roll up and down over your lower back. Close your eyes and envision your muscles untying under the consistent pressure of your partner—so reposeful.
Lizard on Rock
This pose, which channels the cold-blooded natural desire to open upward toward the sun, is perfect for family yoga time.
To carry this one through, start by assuming the child pose and have your child sit behind you, back-to-back. Slowly, have your child open up and lie back onto your back. Hold here, concentrating on deep, healing breaths.
Double Down Dog
If you’re feeling ambitious (or just playful), try Double Down Dog with your partner.
Start by assuming the downward-facing dog pose. Next, have your child put his or her feet up, one at a time onto your tush with each hand grounded flat on the floor.
“This can be reversed with the parent just putting one foot onto the child’s backside, two if it is a strong child and the parent is firmly in control,” says Stone. “We have been doing these exercises together, some of them since they were born. My teen still loves me to fly her in ‘Superman’ or roll over her in ‘Smasher’ today.”
Before trying any new exercises, check with your family doctor to get the all-clear. He/she is sure to applaud your engagement with the kids while including them in your exercise routine.
For more poses to enjoy together, contact your own local yoga instructor and take a family yoga class together. Your kids will be talking about it for years to come. What other poses do you know of that can strengthen kids and parents simultaneously? Have you ever tried partner yoga with a friend? Tweet us your pictures to @TomsofMaine!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.