Yoga for the Holidays, Strengthening Family Ties

by | Dec 16, 2016 | Families, Mindfulness, Stress

By Lynea Gillen

I recently led a yoga class for a family that has been involved in Yoga Calm for several years now. About halfway through, one of the older girls who hadn’t practiced in a while quietly said, “It’s good to be back.” Her mother smiled.

Yes, it is good to be back. Back to a quiet, open room. To a sense of peace in the body and shared movement with family and friends. It’s good every time, but we feel it more when we’ve been away from these things longer than we may have preferred.

Returning to Our Practice

child poseLife can have a way of interfering with our best intentions. Pulled between responsibilities at work and home alike, we cope by letting some things slide – even things we know are good for us, that will give us more strength, energy, and resilience in the long run.

The long, dark days of winter allow us to come back to the practice of self care. That practice helps us through the moments when family gatherings get tense or stress takes hold of us – moments that all too often accompany the joy and fun of the holiday season.

Mindful, we can read each situation for what it is, acknowledge our emotional response, and choose to act from a place of loving kindness, whether towards others or ourselves.

Yoga for the Whole Family

In terms of natural cycles, winter is a time of quiet, of hibernation, of preparation for new growth in the not-so-distant future. Culturally, it’s a time of coming together, of community.

family yogaAnd it’s a perfect time for the family to do yoga together. The sharing is powerful. The peace is welcome. And all gain by it, becoming more grounded and mindful in the process.

It can be a good “time out,” as well – respite from the busy-ness of the holidays; a time not to do but simply to be…and to be restored, ready for the next round of gatherings and celebrations.

As we head toward the heart of this most festive time of year, I encourage you to make yoga a part of your family’s plans. Attend classes together or simply practice together at home. And commit to making it a part of your family routine as you head into the new year – just as you might family dinners or game night or movie night or other activities you enjoy as a group.

There are so many benefits, beyond just creating a more peaceful and relaxed home. Children come to see exercise as a normal and fun part of life, not something you go off and do by yourself as though it were some chore. It can help them develop a healthy body image and better self-awareness and regulation. It creates opportunities for dialogue.

Yoga can be one more way of making your family ties stronger – and your family itself, stronger.

Whichever occasions you observe, however you honor and celebrate them, both Jim and I wish you a joy-filled holiday season and a happy, healthy start to 2017!

Color image by Anne Wu; b&w image by sunchild123, via Flickr

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