In preparation for Family Health and Fitness Day, here is a simple yoga sequence to practice together in your living room, garden, city park or on a beach overlooking the ocean. Magdalena’s previous post last week discussed how yoga can benefit the whole family. For the below sequence, you can all face in one direction or face each other in the circle.
1. Sit in a comfortable position such as cross-legged or butterfly with feet touching. Your hands are resting on your knees. Become aware of your breathing. Close your eyes. Now start to listen to others in your group breath. Your breaths will become synchronized. Your family will start breathing as one. Stay like this for few minutes depending on your children’s ability to sit still.
[Cross-legged pose featured in top image]
2. Slowly open your eyes and become aware of your surroundings and loved ones. Raise both arms up to the sky and breathe in. Lower your arms slowly as you breathe out. Repeat 3 times. Now add a gentle twist to the right with your left hand resting on right knee and left one behind you. Hold for few seconds. Raise your arms as you breathe in and twist to the left exhaling slowly. Hold and breathe. Be aware of your body and others around you. Repeat 3 times on each side. Children may call this pose a “pretzel.”
3. Come to hands and knees. This sequence is called Cat and Cow. Arch your entire spine as you look down between your hands, breath out. This is Cat Pose. Breathe in as you move opposite way sinking your hips down and looking up ahead of you. This is Cow Pose. Repeat 6 times moving slowly with breath between Cat and Cow. If you are up for it, have everyone “meow” as they go into the cat and “moo” as they go into cow.
4. Shift your hips all the way back to sit on your heels. Arms stretch at front of you. Relax your spine. Breathe slowly. Enjoy each deep breath. Relax. This is Child’s Pose.
5. Now you will move slowly into Downward-Facing Dog pose. Curl your toes under and push your hips up and back. Relax your head. Make it heavy. Spread your fingers and push down through your entire hand. You can slowly pedal your feet to stretch your calf muscles. Now press your heels down. Have everyone bark 3 times while in Downward-Facing Dog.
6. From Downward-Facing Dog move forward into Plank Pose. Keep your core muscles engaged. Everyone count to 10 together and push back to downward dog. Stay for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 3 times. When done slowly lower to your belly. Rest your head turned to the side on your folded hands.
7. Push up onto your forearms. Breathe slowly while elongating your body, reaching your head up and tightening your core. This is Sphinx Pose. If you are up to it, try to straighten your elbows while engaging your core (to protect your back). This is Cobra Pose. Maintain for 20 seconds. Rest. Repeat 2 more times.
8. While on your belly lift your legs up with your knees straight and hold for 3-5 seconds. Rest 3-5 seconds. Repeat. Now try to lift arms by your body and legs up at the same time. Hold 3-5 seconds. Rest. Repeat one more time. This is Salabhasana Pose.
9. Roll onto your back. Flex your knees and hip and lift your feet of the floor. Bring your bend legs to the right and look to the left. Press both shoulders into the mat. You should feel a gentle stretch through your entire spine. Relax for 5 breaths. This is Supine Spinal Twist. Slowly bring your legs up and lower them to the other side. Relax for 5 breaths. Bring your legs back up and lower them down to the floor.
10. Relax your whole body. Move your legs apart. Move your arms 6 inches away from your body. Close your eyes. Let go completely. This pose is called Savasana (Corpse Pose). It lets your body absorb benefits of your practice. Stay here for at least 3 minutes.
Rise slowly. You are done. Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, wellness and togetherness with your loved ones.
Magdalena Oledzka is a pediatric physical therapist and is the section manager at the CA Technologies Rehabilitation Center at the Lerner’s Children’s Pavilion, Hospital for Special Surgery. She is NDT trained in the management and treatment of children with cerebral palsy and other neuromotor disorders.