If you check out my daily schedule and to-do list, you would probably conclude that I don't technically have time to write this blog. You may not technically have time to read it. For many families, life is so incredibly busy and scheduled these days. We have commitments, appointments, careers, technology and families that pull us in many different directions. For me, this kind of stretch and hurried scheduling can translate to stress in my own body, and despite being a yoga teacher and licensed therapist, I am not immune to it by any means. Unfortunately, I know I'm not alone in my overscheduled life and exposure to stress. However, I have the advantage of knowing what symptoms of stress look like. I have tools to manage it, and I know what kind of negative impact ignoring my stress could have on my health and my children in particular. So I regularly address it. Over and over again. I look stress in the eye and invite it to yoga with me at least 3 times a week where we then shake hands and agree to part ways. The more I do yoga, meditation and mindfulness throughout the week, the less I see of stress and the happier I am. Personally, I'd like my children to have those same advantages and tools within their reach so that they can have more self-control over their stress and feelings within their bodies at a much earlier age than I did. Actually, I'd like all children and their parents to have the tools and knowledge yoga offers because the truth is, modern family life with the wisdom and health management of yoga is a heck of a lot easier than life without it.
According to data from the American Psychological Association, most Americans are suffering from moderate to high stress, with 44% reporting that their stress levels have increased over the past 5 years. Interestingly, stress on a parent can take a toll on a child even if the parent feels that they are keeping their stress under wraps, and I'm not just pulling that statement out of my root chakra. A recent study says that 69% of parents say their stress had only a slight or no impact on their children, but 86% of children say otherwise. Additionally, almost a third of children reported that within a only a 30 day time frame they had experienced a physical health symptom associated with stress such as headaches, stomach aches or difficulty sleeping.*
The good news is yoga, meditation and the mindfulness teachings offered within a yoga class can be the perfect solution to learning how to live a healthy, more mindful life in a fast moving, stressed out society. Recent studies show that meditation and breathing techniques such as those taught in yoga class can shift the brain out of stressed mode and trigger the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system. Additionally, I might add that to teach children yoga, is to offer them the chance to thrive among the chaos, and to allow them to embody valuable life skills and health management strategies they can use their whole life though.
As an Occupational Therapist, I have attended a decade worth of career related trainings that are dedicated to improving therapeutic progress and increasing an individual's functioning in life. However, I have found the therapeutic application of yoga to be the most holistic, integrative and effective for making changes and improvements in the whole individual more so than any other. My experience allows me the insight to see that when both parents and children receive education and training, the results and transformation falls deeper into the heart of the family as well as the individual, increasing a sense of connection and strong imprinting for the longer haul.
Recently, when I asked my 5 year old what would happen if she couldn’t do yoga any more, she said it would be "bad." Then she looked at me with a solemn stare and said that if she couldn’t do yoga ever again she would turn into “a sad, sad puddle.” As a yogini, I can relate. As an OT, I know that emotional intelligence and self-awareness she used to express herself in that statement was taught and reinforced through yoga. As her mother, I know what joy and delight the games, music and movement of yoga brings her. I know the outlet it offers her for dealing with the stressors in the environment to which she is incredibly sensitive. I feel her yearning need for compassion and gratitude deep within the depths of my own heart. Without the wisdom, practical life tools and health benefits yoga offers, she might be a sad, sad puddle of a girl trying to find her way in this world. I wholeheartedly agree. Lucky for her, her mother is a yoga teacher. And lucky for me, I've got two daughters that really love yoga.
For anyone interested in seeing and feeling exactly what I mean about all this parent/child yoga stuff, I'll be offering a mother daughter yoga class on Saturday, May 4th from 10-11am. A mother/daughter yoga practice together is a creative way for a mama to nurture her own physical and emotional body while also modeling a healthy example and empowering her daughter with wisdom and life skills to meet the challenges of her journey with confidence, love and a really effective bag of tricks.
Join us for mother/daughter yoga! We will practice acro yoga, partner aerial yoga and floor poses side by side to further our positive communication and joyful shared experiences. No experience required. Register here under the workshops tab
Also, a summer program of mother & daughter yoga is coming! Stay tuned!
*From American Psychological Association, Stressed in America, January 2011, Vol
Lindsey Lieneck, MS, OTR, RYT, is owner of Yogapeutics in Austin, TX where she has developed the Yogapeutics Aerial Yoga & Mindfulness curriculum for kids. She teaches classes, consults with parents & schools and educates other professionals on the Yogapeutics curriculum. Read more about Lindsey HERE.
See the Yogapeutics class schedule and offerings: