Friday, April 4, 2014

Exercises for the Family – Yoga

To help educate and inform the public on important health issues, the Columbus branch of the American Heart Association is collaborating with local bloggers to share their stories about heart heath and their own nutrition and fitness tips. March was nutrition and fitness month and I will be sharing my favorite tips for exercising with your family.

Yoga is a wonderful way to exercise with your family. It can be tailored to fit any age and fitness level. Yoga builds flexibility, strength, and balance. Faster forms of yoga can provide an aerobic or cardio workout, slower types can help you unwind and relax. I love yoga because it quiets my mind, even if I am practicing a fast-paced yoga (called Vinyasa or Flow yoga), I feel peaceful. Every yoga practice ends with a reward, resting in Shvasana (also called Corpse Pose). It doesn’t sound very comfortable; lying flat on your back without a pillow or blanket, but it’s a very relaxing way to end a restful or vigorous yoga practice.

An easy way to introduce yoga to your family is to rent or buy a yoga DVD so you can practice and learn in the comfort of your own home. There are many different yoga DVDs out there, you just have to decide what type of yoga you wish to practice! The other equipment you will need are a yoga mat and comfortable, unrestrictive clothes. You can also purchase a yoga block and strap to help you get into and hold more difficult poses. My favorite yoga DVDs and supplies have been purchased from Gaiam.

Yoga can be a great way for kids to learn how to focus and practice mindfulness. A child’s yoga practice does not have to slow and meditative, it can be playful and active. Once you learn a few basic poses with your children, you can try some of these fun yoga games!

Dead Fish: Yoga Version
1. Have the yogis make a large circle, pick one yogi to be “it” and have him or her stand in the middle of the circle.
2. Have the rest of the yogis pick a yoga pose, they want to pick a pose and see how long they can hold it. They can switch to a different pose when the yogi in the center is not looking; but they do not want to be caught moving!
3. If the “it” yogi sees a yogi in the circle moving, he or she gently taps that yogi on the shoulder; tapped yogis step out of the circle and off to the side until the current round of the game ends.
4. The last yogi left posing is the new yogi in the center of the circle for the next round!

Follow the Yogi
1. Have the yogis make a large circle, pick a yogi to be “it” and have him or her stand in the middle of the circle.
2. The yogi in the center of the circle makes a yoga pose and all of the yogis in the circle have to copy it.
3. The “it” yogi picks the poses and the pace – everyone has to keep up! The leader yogi picks the new leader when the teacher or adult determines the current round is finished.

Yoga Dance/Freeze Party
1. The teacher or adult plays yoga or world music on a CD player while yogis dance or go through yoga poses.
2. When the music stops the yogis must “freeze” in a yoga pose!
3. Continue to play as long as everyone is having fun!

If you would like to practice yoga with an experienced instructor, you are in luck! Columbus has many yoga studios, a quick search online will show you one near your neighborhood. My favorite Columbus yoga class is the annual open yoga class with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman-Yee (my favorite yoga DVD instructors) organized by Yoga on High. I’ve attended the past two years and have had a lot of fun!

Try yoga out - it's a wonderful way to exercise, relax and have fun! 

Some of my favorite yoga resources: