Creating a yoga practice with your child no matter what age is a special thing; the mat is a unique space that is creative while also being active, energising, disciplining and calming. During adolescence (the tween/teen years) it can be an even more important shared activity, as it becomes a reference point for discussions about relationships, diet, who we are and how we interact with the world.
At 10+, kids are just starting to work out how they feel about themselves and the world around them. They want to have their independent view on things, which can be a source of inspiration for a parent when channelled in the right way. Adolescents start to see the bigger picture and how they relate to the rest of the world. As yoga is all about inquiry, it is a safe, explorative space for kids to connect to their freedom of expression and questions about the self.
At the same time, guidance and structure are necessary, and the structure of a yoga class can help to build mutual respect. Creating an inviting, non-competitive atmosphere helps to break down boundaries, and infusing laughter and joking into the class is important to lighten everyone up, even while laying the foundation for rules. In a yoga class, discipline come from the teacher rather than the parent, and in this way, the playing field is levelled between parent and child.
The teen years can be difficult on so many levels; the stress of school and social pressure, hormones…discovering who you are in a myriad of relationships. Physical activity and rest are equally important in releasing the everyday tension, and having a shared space to not necessarily talk, but explore playfully together, can be invaluable for the evolution of parent-child relationship. Over time, yoga can help both parents and children to become calmer and more compassionate beings towards each other and others.
Check out my Parents and Teens class on Wednesdays at 4-5pm at Indaba Yoga Studio.