I recently tested out TOT YOGA, a cool toddler yoga DVD, designed for parents and their 10-month-to-3-year-olds to do together. It was definitely an interesting experience. My wiggly almost-2-year-old tester was, well, a little too wiggly to focus on the program, but there was definitely a glimmer of future interest, so we're going to to keep trying. I caught up with Havona Madama (pictured below), the mom and registered yoga teacher who created the program, and got a chance to ask some burning questions.
1) My toddler has a hard time sitting still and concentrating on just one activity. I noticed some of the children in the video seem to have the same problem! What should we expect from our kids as we introduce them to this video?
The first time a toddler sees this video they will likely look at the television for a short period of time and then toddle away in standard toddler fashion. That is why we recommend that the first couple of times you use the video you have it running in the background so that you learn some of the poses and get a chance to do some of the parents’ stretching portions. The purpose of the video is stress-free fun exercise, so if your child runs away to do something else you can choose to continue following the video and get some great warm up exercises in, or crawl over to them and see what they are doing. Either way, you can incorporate the video in your child’s playtime. And, when you least expect it they will run back to the area where you are, roll on the floor and grab their toes making bear noises. Even when they are not paying attention, they pay attention, toddlers are the ultimate multi-taskers. We intentionally used some children in the video who had no prior exposure to yoga so that parents would not feel stressed out by seeing perfect children following perfect routines, that would create too much stress and pressure, we want the child and the parent to feel free to explore and learn poses to incorporate in their daily routine. To make up stories that relate to their life, environment, and imaginations using the poses.
2) Which poses are generally most popular with toddlers?
Every child is different, but most children who have used the video respond best to crawling at first. They seem to really love to see their parent crawling around on the floor, and it is an amazing benefit for the parent, crawling has the same benefits as standing on your head, without the risk of neck injury. My daughter particularly loves to race me while crawling, I think because she usually wins. She also loves it when I do cat and cow, at first she uses me as a tunnel racing through one way then another – getting out all that pent up energy before she rests. I like to make the sounds of the animals when I do the poses, and that usually gets my daughter to join me. Stopping every so often to tell me I am doing the wrong animal, “No, CAT MOMMY”. However, my daughter says “Look, Yoga” she always starts with a dog pose, followed by alternatively lifting one leg, then the other, then doing a donkey kick. I never taught her the donkey kick, she thinks she invented it. When your child masters, or creates, a pose, their confidence and sense of accomplishment will permeate everything in their world. When my daughter turned the corner from casual observer to active participant, she became the instructor demanding I do yoga with her when she is frustrated with the attention I am giving her, and by saying yes to her demands we both benefit. After two months of active TOT YOGA, she also tossed her pacifier to the ground saying “I don’t want binky, I’m a big girl.”
3) Can you do those poses over and over if your child shows less interest in others?
Yes, you should do the poses you and your child like the best. The video is a guide and your child is your ultimate teacher, the one who gets to design the program with your assistance. That is how it becomes stress free, we allow our often frustrated toddler the opportunity to be in charge and we all get down on the floor crawling around which naturally leads to rolling and laughing. You can make up your own stories using the poses and your child’s interests. If your child is interested in fire engines you can be a fire engine when you are crawling, if they love hippos you can be a hippo instead of a cow, there really are no rules, except we recommend you stay close to the floor so you and your child are on equal footing and to reduce any injuries.
4) When is a good time to try this program with your child -- before a nap, after a meal?
When you first start the program it is best to do it about 30-45 minutes before your child’s nap, depending on what routine you are already using prior to nap time and your child’s personal unwinding time needs. As a rule, I don’t recommend any exercise immediately after eating a meal, however, the movements in this video are natural daily movements for toddlers, so you do not have to necessarily wait any specific length of time after a meal, I would caution against fast crawling and a lot of dog poses on a very full stomach. Also, anytime your child is starting to get frustrated, you can get on the ground and crawl around, pop in the DVD and begin to change frustration into fun.
5) I can see that this video could spark a love of yoga in beginners, and get parents looking into actual classes. What should moms and dads look for in an in-person toddler yoga class?
In person toddler yoga classes are springing up all over America, and they can be a lot of fun. However, it is not necessarily relaxing to do yoga in a room filled with toddlers. So, smaller class size is important, with the chance for individual attention. Also, the environment is important, I recommend studios where the floors are padded or carpeted, even if they simply bring in a large mat during the toddler class, that is preferred to small individual mats. And it is important that the class is not simply a parents class where they tolerate children running around, it should be a class where they intend to incorporate your child, when your child is willing to participate. If the class has a lot of standing poses, it is not really safe for the parents or the children. It is very important to avoid whipping your neck around to see what your child is doing when you are in a warrior stance or any other alignment based pose, that is why TOT YOGA emphasizes floor poses. But most importantly, it should be stress-reducing not stress inducing, if you are stressed out on the way to class, and/or you are stressed out after class, you probably should pick another class. That’s how TOT YOGA was born, I personally could not handle the stress of trying to get to my local class, two blocks away, on time. Yoga is for the mind body and soul of the parent and the child, enjoy it for 1 minute, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, as long as it is fun and you are moving your bodies, it will relax and rejuvenate you both.
Sounds good to us! And with that, we're thrilled to give away a copy of TOT YOGA today. To enter, just leave a comment or question below.
General contest rules: To enter, you must be a U. S. resident, and at least 18 years of age and you must leave a comment or question about Tot Yoga. No purchase necessary. The winner will be randomly selected and will receive a copy of the DVD “Tot Yoga.” Employees, contractors, and the families of employees and contractors of Daily Grommet, Inc. are not eligible to enter. You are not eligible to win if you have received a prize or giveaway from Daily Grommet in the last six months. Void where prohibited. Contest will run through 10pm EST February 12, 2010.