One recent wintry afternoon, my household was unusually serene: my son was happily playing at his train table, my daughter was drawing away next to me at the counter, and I had, unbelievably, gotten my act together to get dinner into the slow cooker. I glanced over at my girl and noticed how she was sitting: back straight, spine long, perched slightly forward on her chair.Then I did a little self-scan: Slouch City. I was completely slumped over, shoulders rounded and hunched up toward my ears.Yikes! I sat up super-straight and felt much better.Thirty seconds later, I was tired and slumped over again.The next time I was at the coffee shop I took an extremely unscientific survey of the java-drinkers around me: slouchers and slumpers all over the place.What happens to our naturally good alignment between age six and age thirty-something? Like anything else I suppose, without practicing it, we simply forget and fall into easier, not-so-good-for-us habits. Luckily for my daughter, she's regularly practiced the poses that will help ingrain her excellent posture.And for the rest of us, it's never too late to start.
Try incorporating the poses below into your yoga play with your child.They're great for both of you: hopefully for her, it will cement those wonderful good-posture habits; for you, it will help prevent or correct the slouches. And know that any regular yoga practice, including these particular poses or not, will help you and your child become more in tune with your bodies, and thus more aware of not-so-good posture and more inclined to correct it.
(I'm feeling a little more aware now, and working on sitting, standing and walking tall.This often involves pretending I'm a supermodel or a professional ballet dancer. Hey, whatever it takes.)
- MOUNTAIN POSE: Standing with your feet close together, make your legs strong, pull your belly in, and lift your shoulders up, back, and then down. Imagine you are as tall and strong as a mountain. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, imagine a balloon above you, its string attached to the top of your head, gently lifting you straighter and even taller. Practice Mountain Pose often--it's the starting point for many poses. Before attempting any balancing pose, such as Tree, below, first establish your solid foundation in Mountain Pose.
- TREE POSE: Begin in Mountain Pose. Lift your right foot off the floor and put it to the inside of your left leg (hold hands with your child for balance, or have her put one hand on the wall). Keep that foot low, unless you feel very stable. Imagine there are roots growing down through your left foot into the earth, holding you strong and steady. Stand straight and tall, and when you feel balanced, grow your arm branches up toward the sun! Take a few deep breaths in and out, and then lower your foot and switch sides.
- STAFF POSE:This pose seems simple--in fact, it's very challenging, and will strengthen your legs, back and core muscles, and is excellent for improving posture. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, toes pointing up to the sky. Make those legs strong! Your heels might even lift off the floor. Pull your belly in and sit up really tall--put your hands down beside you or behind you to help. If it's very hard to sit up straight, sit on the edge of a folded blanket.Take a few breaths in and out, relax for a minute, and then try it again.
- Source:The Complete Idiot's Guide to Yoga with Kids, by Jodi B. Komitor, M.A., and Eve Adamson