In order to successfully achieve the supported cobra pose in the family yoga class at Home Yoga Experience in Mahwah, both parent and child must work together. The best outcome, yoga instructor Allison Morgan says, is when the child helps the parent. "As the child," Morgan says, "is helping the parent pull her arms back to achieve a deeper back bend, which can't really be fully achieved alone, the child is literally helping open her heart." These moments are among the many benefits of taking parent-and-child yoga classes.
Home Yoga director Gina Goldberg says the makeup of a family yoga class can come in a number of different combinations: one parent and child, two parents and a child, siblings, or even a caregiver and child.
"It's very interactive and a wonderful and neutral place to experience joy," she says.
Yoga is all about connecting in a unique way. Because there is no leader or follower or rule setter, both parent and child are able to switch roles in a fun and interactive setting. In class, yoga poses may be done separately on individual mats, or a parent and child may share a mat and create a pose together. It might even be a partner pose where one is helping the other.
Outside of Class
As with most yoga instructors, Morgan tries to give her students something they can take home from the experience. She might say to parents: "Your child helped you achieve this pose much deeper then you could on your own. What else do you think you could allow your child to help you with?"
When families do yoga together, something truly powerful happens. "It places the adult and the child on an equal space to connect, support and trust," Sheryl Edsall, director of Naturally Yoga in Glen Rock, says. "We see our weaknesses and our strengths and we celebrate both because there is no right or wrong way to do this."
Striking a pose Learning yoga moves at Home Yoga Experience in Mahwah Ð a peaceful way to connect with peers.
Bergen County Academies junior Grace Sullivan, 17, has been taking yoga classes for about four years. But last fall, she decided to take a teacher certification class in order to share her passion with young kids and fellow teens. Why does she feel so strongly about yoga's benefits for the younger set?
"Sometimes," she says, "kids feel like they have to be the best at everything: sports, dance, school. Everything is so competitive. Yoga is so not about that ... it's about appreciating yourself the way you are. Maybe you're not very outgoing or you're a little bit quiet. It's about finding people you want to be with, people you belong with. And that's a very relevant thing in high school."
Sullivan has started a BCA yoga club, which meets once a week. "The class is all about getting in touch with your body as it is, making it stronger and more balanced."
Home Yoga Experience
370 Franklin Turnpike, Mahwah
Offers classes for children and adults as well as family yoga classes.
175 Rock Road, Glen Rock
Offers family yoga for kids 6 and older, along with youth and adult classes.