Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bonding Through the Tween Years

The time we spend with our children becomes more and more precious as they approach the teenage years. For two Saturday afternoons, I had the privilege to spend time with an amazing group of Alluem Moms and their tweens. Moving through breath work, asana (yoga poses), and communication activities - I loved every second of watching the bonds grow strong between these mothers and their children.
These tween years aren't always the easiest. Our children take this time of their lives in a search to define themselves, sometimes sending emotions to run wild. They form bonds with friends who you may or may not like. Their interests are just starting to set in and their strengths and weaknesses push through. They need independence and we need connection. Fortunately for those of us who practice yoga, we can learn to breathe through it all and find ways to deal from the lessons we learn on our mats.
-Take 5 Breathing: When the emotions start to get out of control, bring it back to the breath. Inhale to the count of 5, exhale to the count of 5. Even the breath and find balance. Deep breathing will automatically lower the level of anxiety in the body. And taking 5 seconds can help us regroup before we react in a way we may regret.
-Tense and Release: Practice creating tension to remind the body that you can in fact let it go. Make fists with the hand, tighten up all the muscles in the arms, raise the shoulders up to the ears, squeeze the eyes tightly shut, take a deep breath in, hold it - then LET IT ALL GO. Relax.
-Partner Stretching: Buddy up and work together through easy seated stretches. Be gentle and communicate with each other. Stretch the muscles and smile.
-Partner Balance: Lightly support each other into challenging balance poses. Be there for your child, palms open trying not to grasp or grab on tight. Let your child learn to lean on you for a little, but know when to let go and let them find their balance on their own. They will fall and you should let them. This is how they learn to get up and keep going. This will make them stronger.
-Mindful Listening: Take time each day to really listen to each other. For 3 minutes each, take turns sharing the reasons why you love them, what traits you admire the most, what makes them a special part of your life. Then let them share the same. Don't talk or interject, let them speak. Just listen.
-Relax: Be quiet and breathe together. Sometimes it's just nice to be there with each other, nothing to do, nowhere to go, just be.

While planning this workshop, there came a point when I started to cry. I was listening to Taylor Swift's "Never Grow Up" and just thinking about my own relationship with my mom - how she was always there for me, always encouraging me, always listening, always lifting me up when I fell. I've learned so much from her and still continue to. Her strength is unbelievable and she is my hero. I am truly blessed to be her daughter. Thanks, Mom.

Thank you to all who attended these workshops. If you are interested in the soundtrack, CDs will be made available upon request for a $20 donation to the Off the Mat Into the World - Seva Challenge Haiti (cash or check - please make checks payable to The Engage Network). Please email

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