Yoga is one of the ways I like to relax. Occasionally my kids will see me doing a few yoga poses in the living room and join me for a downward dog or two. Leah especially loves yoga and likes to show off her tree pose from time to time.
When I saw that one of my favorite yoga studios, Princeton Center for Health and Yoga, was offering a Family Yoga class as a special event, I knew it would be a great new experience for use to try.
I am so glad we went. The class far exceeded my expectations. I thought we’d do a few animal poses and call it a day, but the class was far more organized and incorporated more of yoga’s relaxation benefits than I thought it would.
When we entered the studio, the instructor, Loring Nagle, told us to get a mat and a Focus Friend. I had no idea what a Focus Friend was for, but my kids loved the selection of small stuffed animals. Luke chose an octopus, and Leah took a frog on a lily pad.
We arranged our mats in a semicircle and started with an introductory song that celebrated each person in the group. We stretched a bit to warm up and then prepared to do Leah’s favorite, the tree pose. Loring told us to place our Focus Friends a few feet in front of us so we could stare at them as we balanced on one foot. It worked so well that I may need to bring a Focus Friend to the next yoga class I go to on my own!
As the class continued, I was very impressed with the way Loring brought the perfect mix of playfulness and concentration to the class. I suppose that all yoga classes should bring those two elements, but it is especially important when teaching children. Bring too much playfulness, and the kids will get silly and have a hard time settling down. Bring too much concentration, and the class might seem more like work than relaxation. I need to remember to stay as calm and serene as a yoga instructor in my daily interactions with my children. They responded so well to Loring’s style.
Both Luke and Leah had fun during the class. Luke enjoyed doing Sun Salutations to music. Leah liked doing the cat/cow stretches and making a forest of trees during the Tree Pose.
I love watching my children in their role as students. I also had an opportunity to do this when we took a cooking class, and it is interesting to see a side of them I don’t often get to see. Luke is a very serious student. The concentration on his face was visible as he touched every finger to his thumb during a meditation exercise. Leah aims to please. She raised her hand every time the instructor asked a question, even if she had no answer.
The class ended the way a traditional yoga class ends, with savasana (also called corpse pose). We stretched out on our backs on the floor. Loring instructed us to place our Focus Friend on our bellies and watch it move up and down as we breathed in and out. She came around to each person and massaged a little lavender-scented lotion on our feet. Leah turned to me and said, “That felt SO good!” Luke also commented on how much he liked the foot massage.
We all left class feeling both relaxed and energized. I just wish we could take a Family Yoga class more often!
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