Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yoga Breaths

As an attempt to keep fit while pregnant, and to spend some one on one time with Jonah, I signed up for a Toddler and Me yoga class. I was skeptical of whether or not Jonah would participate. He hates to be manipulated or physically moved around in any way, and his attention span has diminished to that of a goldfish since he's gained mobility.

To my surprise, he really enjoyed the first class. We both did so well that I signed up for the whole series. Jonah's favorite part of class, interestingly, is the very beginning when we are getting "centered" with our child. We begin by sitting in a very relaxed state of mind with our child in our laps and we sing or chant "om." I felt silly at first, but after doing it a couple of times I realized how calm Jonah had become, and by the second class he began to chant it with me as well. He was actually sitting in my lap for a length of time!

Then we do what the instructor calls "yoga breaths." Jonah loves this. The parents let their child lean against their chest while taking deep breaths, so the child can feel the breaths going in and out of the parents' lungs. While we breath we move the children's hands and arms up and down. Up when we inhale, and down when we exhale.

Because he loves it so much in class, and it seems to calm him like nothing else I've seen, I've tried to use these yoga breaths with him in every day situations. Jonah gets frustrated very easily if he can't get something just the way he wants it. He also gets very excited by things which is when he does what the therapists call "stimming" (spitting into his hands, twitching his face, brushing the side of his head with his hand) I've also noticed that when he gets this excited or frustrated, he can't complete the task at hand, whether it is going up the stairs safely or completing a puzzle. So every time that I saw he was about to get frustrated or excited, I'd say "Jonah, let's do yoga breaths" and take a few deep breaths.

I wasn't sure if he was catching on. But then one day I lost my temper. He was supposed to be taking a nap. Instead, he figured out how to move his bed around the room by rocking it, and he had torn everything off the shelves and out of drawers. I almost blew a fuse when I opened the door and found him sitting in the middle this mess. My patience was beyond wearing thin. But Jonah, upon my yelling "What have you done in here?!?!?!" started doing yoga breaths. And just like that, my two year old reminded me to keep my temper in check. I was still angry, no doubt, but I was better able to address my anger and deal with the situation in a way that was calm and thought through.

Then later in the week, we were running late. And we were behind an idiot driver. My temper is the shortest in the car. Just as obscenities were about to fly aimlessly out of my mouth, I heard Jonah breathing loudly. I looked back in the mirror only to see him raising his arms up and down. Yoga breaths.

He has also started to come to me at random times to do yoga breaths, when he just needs some time alone with me. Having Evie in the house has been an adjustment for everyone, but I think the biggest adjustment has been for Jonah. I think he really enjoys having this special way to come and spend a few special seconds alone with me when he just needs a time out from it all.

It amazes me that such a little and simple thing- taking a few deep breaths- has made life so much more enjoyable for Jonah. And he is able to use it to remind me to slow down and enjoy life also.

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