Nobody loves a serene yoga practice more than me—put me in an empty room with a mat and a couple of props and I am so happy to noodle around on the mat and go into the zone.
But when you live in a house with young kids, there often isn’t an empty room to be found. And getting out of the house to go to a yoga class isn’t as easy as it once was—particularly when it keeps snowing as it has for the last two weeks here in Rhode Island, where I live.
What’s a stressed out mom to do? Grab a kid.
Your child can be a living yoga prop. Sun saluting with a small human on your back adds a lot of wonderful things, including added body weight for you, a fun shared activity and some physical contact that feels great.
You do want to take care to coach them to really hold on—it not only makes them easier to support, but it provides them with a good muscular workout too. But otherwise, you’re really only limited by your imagination and your bravery (and maybe your core strength).
Here are some poses to try with your favorite munchkin:
This is a great pose to start off with; it’s low to the ground and makes for ideal climbing aboard. Then slowly come up to hands and knees.
Safety tip: Move slowly and coach them to start holding on before you start moving.
Lift your hips and straighten your legs to come in to downward facing dog.
Safety tip: They’ve really got to hold on in this one! Tell them to hug you with their legs.
Pretty easy for them. Not so much for you.
Safety tip: Counsel them to hold their wiggles in.
From plank or down dog, step one foot forward and lift your torso to come to a standing lunge.
Safety tip: Clasping your hands under their tush makes this as stable as your basic piggy back.
Step forward to come to standing.
Safety tip: You can stay with your hands clasped under their bottom, or you may be able to have your child straighten his legs and you hold on to the bottoms of his feet (he’ll still need to squeeze with his legs). My arms are a bit too short and my son’s legs a little too long for this to totally work for us, but we managed.
Ooh, go for the burn here! Keep the chest high and the seat low!
Safety tip: Maintain your balance by keeping more weight more over your toes than your heels.
This is the high point. Keep your standing leg straight and strong and reach out through the top of your head and the bottom of your lifted foot. Imagine feeling buoyant (if it’s possible to be buoyant with a small human on your back!) Once you’ve done both sides, come back to mountain pose.
Safety tip: Holding on to them with your hands clasped under their tush helps stabilize this pose.
From mountain pose, you can hinge at the hips and bend forward with a straight spine. Bring your fingertips to the floor (bend your knees if you need to) and step back into a plank. Then drop your knees to the floor to come into child’s pose—the perfect place for hopping off.
Safety tip: Slow and steady’s the way to go as you make each transition.