A few weeks ago, we stumbled upon a yoga class for kids at the library. The kids stretched and posed their way through an hour session and really seemed to enjoy it.
At the table, there was a book that caught my attention, Good Night Yoga: a pose-by-pose bedtime story by Mariam Gates. As my children pretended to be jellyfish, I flipped through the book and enjoyed the whimsical, richly colored illustrations by Sarah Jane Hinder.
I then read about the author, who has over twenty years of experience working with children. Perfect, I thought. She will help me calm down my children before bed. The inside flap suggested, “It’s a practice for kids and parents to end the day in a calming, mindful way.” I was intrigued. Our usual bedtime routine often involves wild chases around the house, tears, empty threats, and bribery. Surely, this would work better than our current system.
I ordered it immediately. Seeing as thought I have absolutely no prior experience with yoga besides the one class I watched my kids take, I don’t know why I thought this would be successful …
Night 1: “Namaste” and Fifteen Minutes of Looking for a Xylophone
My daughter was excited and insisted we start by introducing ourselves. She wanted each of us to hit a chime, say our name, and then spell out our name like she did during the library yoga class. After much commotion, no one could find our xylophone, so I turned a bucket upside down and we beat out our names to start “class.” This whole process took about as long as I wanted our entire yoga session to last.
Things I said during yoga:
- Stop tackling your sister.
- No snorting.
Things they said during yoga:
- Is this real yoga?
- This isn’t real yoga!
- I can’t do it!
- I want to do dinosaur yoga class. Let’s do “Triceratops pose”!
My thoughts during yoga:
- I am yelling way too much for this to be calming.
- I should have studied the book a bit more closely. I have no idea what I am doing. (I now know there is a chart in the back that explains all of the poses in details. Very helpful if you actually look at it!)
- I must sit the children further apart from one another; there is way too much physical contact going on for yoga!
The end of our first session:
After we ended with a “Namaste,” they ran around pretending to be dinosaurs for a bit until I herded them to their rooms. I did not feel calm at all.
Night 2: Dinosaur Yoga Is Born
There was not too much successful about this yoga session. The living room floor was a mess of toys because the kids decided to play “store” while I cleaned up from dinner. This involves them dragging out all of their toys from their rooms and lining them up in rows. By the time I finished barking orders at them to clean up, get in pajamas, and brush teeth, we were all cranky.
I led them through four of the poses that are explained in the back of the book. As we tried to dodge the remaining toys on the floor, the kids purposefully crashed into each other. Then I attempted to lead them through a relaxation activity included in the book. They needed to imagine themselves on a cloud. This was just fits of laughter and wild flailing hands.
The one successful moment: My son led us through a round of “Dinosaur Yoga.” (Why isn’t this a thing? It should be!). Mimicking me, he took out his book of dinosaurs, pointed to a picture, and then made us imitate the pose. It was actually quite fun being a Megalasaurus. Even my husband joined in, making it a nice end to the activity.
Night 3: “The Velociraptor”
I decided to let my son start our yoga session with a round of “Dinosaur Yoga” since he had been talking about it all day. He opened his dinosaur encyclopedia and pointed to a picture of a velociraptor viciously attacking and eating a bird. He instructed, “The boys be the meat eaters, and the girls be the bird.” Then he proceeded to screech, jump off the ottoman, and bite his sister. Maybe “Dinosaur Yoga” shouldn’t be a thing!
My husband tried to calm the kids by demonstrating Cobra pose and calling it “Brachiosaurus pose.” The children were settled for a bit, as they attempted to extend their necks as far as possible. But then, my daughter decided she wanted a chance to lead yoga class, so we were all forced to pose like flamingos. We never actually got to the book… .
Night 4: The Night We Added Music
My thoughts on the Pandora station ‘Yoga Makes Me Happy’: No. No, it doesn’t.
Night 5: “Be Quiet and Be a Cloud!”
We started late because it was a beautiful evening, and we had lingered outside. After the second pose, my daughter started to complain she was tired. Taking advantage of a tired child, I led them through the cloud relaxation hoping for better results than previous nights. They closed their eyes, and they actually seemed to calm down. However, before I could get them to their beds, my husband came home and started wrestling with them on the floor. Then my daughter found a stink bug on her ceiling. All calmness ceased.
Conclusions after Five Nights of Calming Yoga:
Yoga at night just isn’t our thing. I loved the book – it really is beautiful and such a great idea. I would have liked to see it work; however, it was just one more thing to cram into our bedtime routine. My children are not easily calmed, and after a full day of their shenanigans, I simply do not have the patience at this time of night. I also have a sneaking suspicion that I am just not a good yoga teacher.
There were moments of nighttime yoga, especially when my husband joined us, that showed potential. It was fun to do something different together. We often “divide and conquer” during bedtime routine, so it was a nice change to say good-night as a family. We just really could have done without the velociraptor attacks.
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