What have I learned as a yoga teacher and how does this knowledge translate into better sleep for a family?

For over a year I was involved in a Yoga Alliance certified Hatha yoga teacher training from Akasha Academy and I enjoyed every minute of it. I have accumulated in-depth knowledge about the history of yoga, modern practice types, asana, meditation, pranayama as well as how to apply this in real family life and make the most out of all these techniques that create what we nowadays call “Yoga”.

Endless articles have been written on the trendy yoga topic, there are even smart watches nowadays which provide accurate insights on the performance of a yoga practice. Although I am not per se against smartwatches, myself owning one, this is a bit of an extreme, going against the yoga practice itself the way it has been envisioned for centuries.

I have learned and developed tremendously during this course but I will try to share with you the most practical aspects that can improve your family’s well-being and sleep, focusing on young children. I have also gained more insight on how to incorporate these teachings into my daily work as a sleep & lactation coach ending up improving the breastfeeding rate of the mothers who contact me as well as their general wellbeing, ultimately leading to their children’s more peaceful and content state.

First, there are many ways to introduce yoga in young children’s lives but not all of them apply to all families and not everybody has the required and designated space it takes to create such habits so do not feel the pressure to make it happen. There is no good age to start as it should be a natural process of introducing them to the practice of movement & breath awareness, while slowly trying to explain the concept of silent sitting, meditation or focusing and concentrating.

From the very hot topic of “mindful” to “mind full” there is just a small step until a parent starts feeling the pressure of adding this activity on top of everything else we need to do so unless this comes out of curiosity and genuine interest of trying it out, please do not stress out over it. There are countless other ways of bonding with our little ones while also resting, recharging and aiming for a more peaceful state of mind and better rest.

photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Trying to relax can be overwhelming and can also create a spiral that often leads to associating the need to relax with even more stress which is both true and absurd.

If you have never tried yoga yourself or have never considered taking a beginners class for grown-ups or mother & newborn baby there are still things you can incorporate in your daily life as well as for your children if they are at least 2/3 years old and can grasp the idea. Here it goes:

-> buy a good grown-up yoga mat. No need to purchase a child yoga mat as they grow up so fast and anyway tend to like the bigger ones we use as well. If yoga will not stick with your family, you can just use it as a standard play mat.

-> buy a bolster for nice stretches. If you give it enough time for experimenting and jumping on and around it, children will slowly start using it better and better. Worst case scenario, it becomes an all-purpose pillow around the house, pregnancy pillow or breastfeeding pillow being just one of the ways it can be “recycled”.

-> take a look at the books in the picture attached to this article. Small children’s books like Good night yoga and Morning yoga show simple, easy to do & relaxing movements children can learn and enjoy experiencing in their own bodies.

-> empty the children’s bedroom and design it as a space that is mainly used for sleep, relax and rest. Hide toys when not in use and leave as much empty space for stretching and jumping around as possible.

-> implement chill-out time before sleep and naps. Do not dive in with yoga techniques from the first day and allow them to grasp the idea of “doing nothing together”.

-> understand yourself and then teach your child how to just breathe and keep eyes closed. No need for complex or prolonged meditation sessions which are unlikely to work for children. Just be present, together and try to calm down the mind. Whatever works!

-> laugh together. Yoga through laughter is becoming more and more popular and is probably the easiest thing you can do with children. Just google it or create your own technique. Just laugh until you feel better as well as sleepy!

-> experience Shavasana together. Probably children’s favourite asana, just lay on your mats, on your backs, palms facing up and legs a bit spread apart with eyes closed and enjoy the stillness. Children enjoy anything that we enjoy as long as we are genuinely interested and engaged in the matter.

-> try to slowly let go of the concept of “house shoes”. Movement, stretching and relaxing can be so much more effective indoors if the child walks barefoot or with socks depending on different climates.

-> experiment with different rounds of movements in different parts of the day and see when your child is most receptive at such activities. Some prefer the morning routines and some seem to be more engaged in the bedtime relaxation techniques rather than in the morning when their energy is at its peak.

While working as a sleep coach with many parents who have come back from days or weeks long holidays I have realised we often go there with expectations of relaxing, travelling and experiencing different cultures but come back more tired than at departure, overwhelmed, with broken sleep habits as well as with marital strain.

Although I am a big fan of going far and wild, I believe that sometimes, spending a few days, at home, in a so-called staycation can sometimes turn out to be as good as a vacation that involves flying and roaming around. This is not to say AT ALL that we should lock ourselves in and never, ever, go anywhere away but finding a balance could somehow prove to be more efficient in approaching our holiday destinations.

Next time you have one or two days off in the middle of the week or closely connected to a prolonged national holiday weekend, try experiencing the small things and joys your house and surroundings have to offer and see if that does not bring just as much or more happiness than actually going really far and spend lots of time packing and orientating.

Try any deep relaxation technique you actually enjoy together with your children, listen to peaceful sounds while just breathing or fool around the mat trying to twist as a frog, a pigeon or a downward facing dog. I personally find the ability of just being happily at home, present and not planning anything else to be priceless and a magic gift of life as well as a proof of one’s self satisfaction with whatever we own & manage to offer ourselves and our children as being ENOUGH.

After graduating the course and becoming a certified Hatha yoga teacher I have become more aware of some of my habits and patterns, so I am slowly trying to declutter even more as well as spend more time with my child by doing NOTHING SPECIAL. Through allowing our children to be genuinely bored, clear their mind and just BE, they become the actual leaders of their free time and can come up with some surprising ideas of how to spend the hours we actually have available.

I encourage you to research this topic further and I am available for recommending you good and short books on the matter as well as Youtube videos which can prove to be very efficient for showing by doing.

I do not offer any private yoga classes. I only incorporate this knowledge in my coaching sessions but with a bit of interest & dedicated time I am certain you will find something that works for your family. Be patient, curious as well as open to new topics or Eastern approaches that fit your parenting style. Relaxation and better sleep through these ancient practices will eventually, slowly come.

If you are interested in improving your child’s sleep or the breastfeeding process itself, I am more than happy to help you incorporate yoga and meditation through my usual 1 to 1 sleep or lactation counselling sessions which you can book here

photo with Diana

I am the proud mother of a little boy called Toni and I used to google various tips and tricks about sleeping just like you are doing right now.

I qualified as a child sleep consultant after graduating the Family Sleep Institute in the USA which is one of the most well known and respected programs of its kind. I can provide you with a safe and non judgmental space where we will tackle your child’s sleeping issues and get you back on track as a family.

Are you ready to make positive changes to your family’s sleep and wellbeing? Take a look at my sleep packages and let's give it a try together!

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