Nature Yoga: Getting Active And Going Green

Annabelle sits in her booster seat, smiles at her dad and me, raises her hands above her head until her fingers touch, and says, “T-wee!” My husband laughs but his eyes betray his curiosity. “What is she doing?” he asks me. “Yoga,” I tell him. “She’s showing you the “tree” pose.”

Our summer has not been slow, to say the least. Between making out-of-state visits with family, building our first vegetable garden, working on our house, and seeing friends, we are on the go 24/7. The result? A tired and frazzled family in serious need of a break, or for us–an activity that allows us to reconnect with our surroundings and each other. What better way to slow down, refocus, and get in touch with our environment than by practicing yoga?

A former yoga enthusiast and teacher before becoming a mom, I decided it was time to get down to business and start practicing some downward dogs with my toddler. One afternoon I popped in a yoga DVD, unrolled my purple yoga mat and a small cloth mat for Annabelle, and started moving through asanas (or poses) to see what our minds and bodies could do, or well, what Annabelle would be interested in doing.

Shavasana, or corpse pose, is how we began our series of poses. I lay down on my mat, gesturing at Annabelle to do so, and hoped that together, she and I would spend time quieting our minds, and relaxing into our mats. I closed my eyes and allowed my breath to become regular, letting my awareness stay with my breath. Annabelle, however, had different ideas about her mom’s yoga game. From her perspective (at 19 months), her mommy laying on the ground with her eyes closed could be a perfect opportunity for crawling onto mommy to use her stomach for bouncing. At this point, I knew that quiet asanas like corpse pose were not going to be a good fit for mom and toddler yoga.

We moved on. I stood up on my mat and moved into downward dog, raising my hips into the air and forming a triangle between the two sides of my torso and legs. Annabelle squatted down and peered up at me with a big grin on her face before deciding to run under my hips and crawl between my outstretched arms. Like any new experience for toddlers, I chalked up her responses to yoga as just another way of observing and learning new things; like learning to talk and walk, a child often understands more than he or she is able to convey to mom and dad.

During the next twenty minutes, I showed her tree pose (hands above the head while balancing on one leg with the foot of the opposite leg positioned against the ankle, thigh, or calf), raised arm pose (just like it sounds: hands raised above the head), hand to foot pose (bending forward to reach the hands towards the toes), and child’s pose (from a seated position bending the trunk of the body forward from the hips, placing the hands and arms gently alongside the trunk of the body and the forehead in front of the knees to touch the ground). As Annabelle and I move forward with our mommy-toddler yoga practice, I am looking forward to showing her simple, animal yoga poses, which I hope will appeal to her love for animals and nature.

Finding a quiet place free of distractions is the best way to get started with yoga. While many yogis prefer to practice with a special mat, towel, or blanket, no tools are required (please note that yoga props may help people with medical conditions as well as the elderly). While many yogis enjoy a group yoga experience at a local yoga center or club, other yogis are moving outdoors where they are able to reconnect with their inner selves and also be with nature. One mommy-yogi that I met recently at my daughter’s playgroup shared her experience of attending a yoga retreat in Pennsylvania’s countryside. Her eyes and face lit up as she described practicing yoga on a lakeside dock where she not only was able to appreciate the beauty of the sunrise and the lake but also became aware of and was full of gratitude that such a place existed.

Yoga predates written history and has been practiced for more than 5,000 years. In the Indus Valley, yogis desired “greater personal freedom, health and long life, and heightened self-understanding” and so they developed the system of physical and mental exercises which became known as yoga. However, yoga is not a religion and was practiced before Hinduism became a major religion in India. According to the American Yoga Association, yoga likely arrived in the United States sometime in the 19th century but was not widely practiced until the 1960s.

Yoga is a practice available to most adults of any fitness level. Gentle yoga poses can help people with medical conditions such as obesity, physical illness, inactivity, substance abuse, or other physical limitations. At this time, the American Yoga Association does not recommend all yoga poses for children; before beginning any exercise program for yourself or your child, please check with your doctor or pediatrician.

Making time to reconnect with our families and nature can be as simple as going out to our backyards and moving into a downward dog. Whether we practice yoga beside a lake, on a dirt trail in the middle of the woods, or on a grassy field, we are observing natural beauty and getting active at the same time. By involving our children in our yoga practice, we are letting loose, having fun, and taking time to notice the direction of the wind, a caterpillar crawling through blades of grass, or a mother robin feeding her baby birds. Immersing ourselves and our children in natural beauty is a way to acknowledge the largeness of our earth and all that it offers us everyday.

How do you and your family get active and go green? We’d love to hear about your green physical fitness so please share your experiences and tips in the comments.

Jessica Monte also blogs about natural parenting and the environment at Green Mamma and API Speaks.

Original 5 Minutes for Going Green post.

8 Responses to Nature Yoga: Getting Active And Going Green
  1. Mimi
    July 31, 2008 | 8:24 am

    It’s just me, my hubby and my dog Floyd in my family but we stay active in lots of ways. By the way, my dog’s nickname is yoga dog because I swear she was a cat in her past life. She is so flexible and loves to stretch with me. We stay fit with various things. We kayak, a lot. Of course swimming is something we do and occasionally we take it easy and string up a hammock on the beach and go for long walks together on the hunt for sea glass. These activities don’t require gas or making garbage (sea glass collecting is, in essence, removal of litter) and we stay fit!

  2. Maddy
    July 31, 2008 | 2:56 pm

    I would like to lay claim to an ‘active’ life, but I’m more of a couch potato type. I’d use the excuse of extreme ‘busyness’ if I could get away with it.

    So saying, after a month in England I think it’s probably time to dust off my bike.

  3. Jessica (Green Mamma)
    July 31, 2008 | 3:07 pm

    Kayaking, swimming, and hunting for sea glass are great ways to get outdoors and get active. I really like your idea of removing litter to stay fit.

    Maddy, I recently dusted off my bike and added a bike seat for my 19 month old Annabelle. Now we head to local parks and shows by bicycle. The best part is when we’re riding downhill; I love coasting and hearing my little one holler, “Whee!”

  4. […] going green and getting active, you can check out my post on 5 Minutes for Going Green entitled “Nature Yoga: Getting Active and Going Green.” Maybe yoga isn’t your thing, so how do you like to get some exercise and feel connected with […]

  5. Practical Nourishment
    July 31, 2008 | 6:42 pm

    This Week’s Favorites…

    Connecting with your kids through yoga at 5 Minutes For Going Green….

  6. Monica (Healthy Green Moms)
    August 1, 2008 | 3:22 pm

    We love to go hiking in the woods. It’s so lush on the west coast and the rays of light peek in and make the ferns glow a magical green color. I am also a yoga enthusiast and looking forward to doing the “T-wee” with my daughter when she gets a little older.

  7. 個人輸入代行
    August 4, 2008 | 3:50 am

    ジェネリック バイアグラ…


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    September 18, 2009 | 4:28 pm


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