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Photo by Pierrette Wiseman

I am in the middle of teaching a 4 week long family yoga class. I love teaching these classes. There is something very special about parents sharing the yoga experience with their children.

The benefits of family yoga:

1. Increased Connection—Through yoga games and poses families connect in a way that is very different from when pursuing other family activities. There is no out doing the other person. Each family member sees each others strengths and weaknesses which brings everyone to a common ground and a mutual appreciation. Each family member connects with their own breath and body while feeling the powerful connection of the group breath and the support you get in group poses.

2. Finding Joy—Family yoga involves taking yoga less seriously. Yoga games and partner poses encourage correct alignment but don’t focus on it. The focus is in finding the fun and joy in moving one’s body and sharing with your loved ones. Partner poses, in particular, tend to lead to many laughs as bodies of different sizes try to join together in one pose.

3. Finding Peace—There is a lot of movement in my classes. The vinyasa is not standard. The class may pick animal cards one day creating a flow unlike no other. It may start with moose pose than flow to ostrich to the more traditional eagle and then down to whale pose and then back up to flying squirrel (my favorite). You will not learn the majority of these in your heated power classes, but you will move and sweat and laugh and share and finally come into savasana. It is this last moment of silence and joined breathing that brings a calm into the room and hearts of parents and kids alike.

4. Learning Tools For Life—Family yoga teaches breathing techniques that both kids and parents can bring into their lives to head off anxiety, hot tempers or tired minds. Poses are taught that will release energy and help kids ready themselves for bed and rest. Parents can take the partner poses into their living rooms for moments of deeper connection when video games, sibling fighting or one’s typical frenzied day becomes too much.

It doesn’t matter what reason you try a family yoga class. Just do it!

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

I have often walked into a library or bookstore looking for a specific book and instead encountered a book that answers a question or need that I didn’t fully realize that I had. It can’t be explained. It’s destiny. Ever since I was in art school, I loved to peruse library isles for these chance encounters and serendipitous surprises. Little that I knew, I was in for a book awakening this past weekend. I had to travel 6 hours to a place I had never been, but a book was waiting for me when I arrived.

We left to visit our relatives in northern Connecticut Friday morning. Arriving in the mid-afternoon heat to a decadently modern, double-lofted house with acreage, barns, woods and a beautiful natural stone pool. The kids headed straight to the water while I investigated the abode. The decorator had grouped books of like color throughout the house. There were a lot of books. In the “honeymoon suite” reserved for my husband and me the books were all in shades of blue. It really was a peaceful room. Though the titles were hard to distinguish within this monotone color scheme, one book found me. The book 3 Steps To A Strong Family was waiting patiently to be discovered.

The book has three parts and I will post on each. Today I am skipping to the second step—Paying Your Dues: A Family Economy

My husband and I have been trying to figure out an allowance system for years and have broached the topic a few times without coming to any conclusions. This gem of a book by Linda and Richard Eyre had some very useful ideas.

Each child is given a pegboard with four pegs. Each peg represents various tasks. Peg one combines morning routines (getting dressed, making beds, brushing hair and teeth). Peg two represents homework and musical instrument practice. Peg three represents household chores (a designated room or zone that the child is responsible for keeping tidy, keeping bedrooms neat and a chosen dinner related job such as washing dishes, setting table, sweeping the floor).  These zones or kitchen jobs are held for a few months in order to develop competency and skills. The last peg is for bedtime routines and getting to bed on time.

What is nice about the peg system is that it eliminates nagging. A parent reminding a child to make sure pegs one, two and three are taken care of before watching tv is less annoying than a parent listing all of the tasks that the child must remember to accomplish. It puts most of the responsibility onto the child.

Adding to the responsibility, the child must write his name on a piece of paper with the number of pegs he pegged at the end of the day and have a parent sign it in order to get credit for the work done. The parent keeps these records and on the designated “pay-day” tallies up the pegs. Each peg pays 25 cents. $1 a day. If the child has all 5 days worth of pegs pegged and noted, the parent doubles the pay to $10.

This is only the beginning of the system.

On payday, the child can ask for cash or he can save his money in the “family bank”. Parents keep track of the money being earned and saved in a book. To add incentive to saving, parents provide a 10% interest on money saved every month. The saved money may be removed to make purchases. The Eyers had their children buy their own clothing with the money earned. I like the idea of having the money go toward something that the child needs. I was thinking of having my children pay for school lunches and certain items of clothes that are trendy versus practical. I am not a big fan of cafeteria lunches and hope to discourage them by having the kids use their own money. Pretty sneaky… I know!

In addition to the money saved, the child can also put some of his money in an investment book which cannot be touched. That money also would receive interest.

I really liked the way this system taught children about money and uses incentives to help teach the value of saving.

Have you found an allowance system that works for your family? Do you make your kids pay for things themselves?

Photo by Werner Moser

I have just returned from a weekend Fundamentals In Action training with Baron Baptiste. A few years ago, a full day immersion class with Baron sparked in me a yoga fire that has led me to teaching kids and living my yoga. I saw that Baron was doing this training in Toronto which is just across the big pond from Rochester. I sent the yoga information to my husband and was pleasantly surprised when he decided to join me on this journey. I knew that this time I would be getting something totally different and was open to the possibilities.

This training pushed each of us to explore ways our yoga practice (through asana and meditation) can be brought into our lives by looking at intention, removing blocks by letting go of ideas or perceptions that are not working and then adding direction by saying yes to a new way of thinking and living. Through the physical work of asana we learned that we need to be firm but flexible, and similarly, in our lives we need to have vision but be malleable.

Though I can’t speak for my husband, I believe that he gained empowerment by pushing through resistance to accomplish new and challenging poses. I found that I had the opposite experience in that I found myself pushing less trying to gain more. Through my own work, I saw that my competitive nature which I throw into my running was also showing up with me on my mat. I was not competing against those around me, but pushing myself as I do in running. This tendency of pushing hard ended up depleting my reserves this year and resulted in a long illness. I decided to grab onto one of Baptiste’s 8 Universal Principles of Stepping Up To the Edge. Number 8. Don’t try hard: try easy

By trying easy, I listened more to my body’s cues. I reminded myself to “let go” when I felt myself giving in to my competitive instinct. I still went farther on my mat but the journey was different. I stopped self-judging. I listened to my internal voice but thought less about the words and just “let go”.

I gained a lot from this weekend both on and off the mat. Sharing this time with my husband made the weekend incredibly powerful and special.

Thank you Baron. I have a feeling we will be seeing you again in the future…

Current Classes:

MIDTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB

Mondays:
6-7:15am Power Vinyasa (H)

Thursdays:
6-7am Power Vinyasa

Story Time Yoga
1-1:45pm

Sundays:
5-7 year olds
9:45-10:30am
8-11 year olds
10:45-11:30am

STUDIO MOVE!

Wednesdays:
10:30-11:30 Power Vinyasa

Fridays:
Yoga for Athletes
9-10am

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