Something I have noticed over almost ten tears as a mother and a lifetime of living as a member of a family is most points of friction involve a breakdown in connection or communication. Any family or relationship expert will tell you strong communication is the foundation for a strong relationship. The trouble is that as families navigate the demands of daily life, it’s easy for those things to take a back seat. Predictably, this leads to misunderstandings, disagreements, and conflicts can arise, creating tension and strain in family relationships.
However, there is a powerful tool that families can use to strengthen their communication and deepen their connections: yoga. Beyond the obvious physical and mental benefits of yoga, this practice can also be an effective way to promote emotional awareness and compassionate communication within families. Practicing communication skills and building strong bonds in a fun and playful way when we’re not in conflict may make it easier to use those skills during tricky moments.
Here are four ways a family yoga practice can help strengthen family bonds and improve communication within relationships:
- Encourages mindfulness and connection. Yoga involves being fully present in the moment and aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Practicing yoga as a family can help to improve everyone’s ability to be present and attentive to each other, which can help to improve communication and understanding, and build deeper connections.
- Creates a shared experience: It’s rare to find an activity that everyone can participate in regardless of age or fitness level. Yoga offers opportunities for every member of the family. The playful and creative aspects of yoga often appeal most to kids. Adults have fun watching their children move and explore, and are often invited to try movements and activities they wouldn’t ordinarily be offered. This shared experience can help to build stronger bonds between family members and foster a greater sense of closeness. By participating in a fun and engaging activity together, parents and children can create positive memories and a foundation for stronger bonds.
- Provides a safe space for expression and experimentation: Practicing yoga can create a safe space for family members to express themselves without fear of judgment. This can help to promote open and honest communication, which is essential for building stronger relationships. Children often enjoy exploring their bodies and movements, and yoga can provide an outlet for this exploration while also promoting physical activity and mindfulness. Practicing yoga as a family allows children to watch their grown-ups try–and not always succeed at–new things. This creates opportunities to grow together and practice working through discomfort or challenge in a very low-risk environment.
- Builds trust and support: Yoga involves a certain level of trust and support between the participants. Parents and children can learn to rely on each other for support, which can help to develop a deeper level of trust and strengthen the bond between them. Practicing yoga together can help parents and children to communicate more effectively. By working together to achieve certain poses or sequences, parents and children can learn to communicate better, listen to each other, and provide constructive feedback.
It’s tricky to trace back the actual origins and evolution of yoga. However, evidence suggests that families have practiced yoga together in various forms throughout history. In ancient India, yoga was often taught and practiced within families, with knowledge and techniques being passed down from parents to children. Many 20th-century yoga teachers have also practiced with and taught yoga to their children, many of whom became teachers in their own right. Clearly, strengthening family bonds through yoga is a time-tested tradition.
We’re excited to offer Family Yoga classes at Breathing Space to allow families to continue to practice together as a way to promote health, wellness, and connection within families. Classes are offered for babies 6 weeks through nine years, with age-appropriate activities to encourage caregivers and children to bond and connect with each other.
About the Author
Jessica LaGarde has been teaching creative movement in the metro area since 2005 and is passionate about helping children discover and explore their bodies and the world around them. She was trained by Joye Newman, MA to teach preschool creative movement for Kids’ Moving Company, a Bethesda-based creative movement studio. In 2017, she completed her Baby, Toddler, and Children’s Yoga Teacher Training through Childlight Yoga.
In addition to working with preschoolers, Jessica is a registered massage practitioner and is trained in infant massage instruction. She has practiced massage for over twelve years and taught massage as part of Potomac Massage Training Institute’s professional training program. Outside of the movement space and massage room, she enjoys cooking, knitting, sewing, gardening and exploring the outdoors with her daughter.