My daughters are away on a school field trip so I took the chance to enter their room and have a bit of a tidy-up. Nothing drastic…just folding away a few items of clothing, rearranging the bedding and putting books back on the book case.
The elder twin has a habit of always leaving on her bedside lamp. As I bent down to turn it off, I caught sight of a dusty packet of the card game “Happy Families”. I picked it up and mused “what makes a Happy Family?” Are we a Happy Family? Am I a happy mum?
For some reason, my mind remembered a blog post I read that morning from Leo Babauta describing how he exercises with his children. I remembered when I read it, I thought “wow…his family sounds like a real-life modern day Waltons Family”- real solid and cozy. They sound like a Happy Family. He sounds like a happy dad.
Looking at the pack of cards and thinking about Leo’s article, I thought what makes a Happy Family? I looked at my family. Are we a happy family and what can I do to contribute to my family’s sense of happiness?
What Makes A Happy Family?
As a working parent, I am sure there are times when you question your sanity, when you berate your boss and moan endlessly about the pressures of work and being a parent. Some of my friends are self-employed, run their own businesses or freelance. Most work for someone else. Yet the thing we have in common is our desire is to spend more time, fun time with our families. To be a happy family.
Given the complex demands and pressures of combining work with parenting, what can you do to ensure your family is happy?
In my previous occupation as a Probation Officer, I supervised many unhappy families. I witnessed scenes of gross emotional and physical abuse. Yet, despite their circumstances, my clients all held on to this ideal that one day things will be better, they will be a Happy/Happier Family.
I practice and teach yoga. Many of my students come to yoga as a means to escape the stresses of everyday life. They lack energy and suffer from worry and general life overload. This has a knock-on effect on their relationships, at home and at work. They long to be happy, feel more peaceful and relaxed. To rest and unwind with their partner and let go of resentments and minor squabbles which spoil the few minutes they spend together as a family.
Family evening meal times seem to be trigger points. How often have you rushed home from work to prepare a meal yet ended up grabbing a pizza from the freezer? You long to sit down, share a home-cooked meal with your family, catch-up and spend time with your children, yet their attention is diverted by talking with their friends on Facebook or listening to music on their ipods.
3 Ways Yoga Can Help You Reclaim Family Time
With its emphasis on inner peace and calm, yoga can help you reclaim quality time with your family. With regular practice, you feel less stressed and more able to enjoy the time you have together. Anytime, you feel overwhelmed, tired and exhausted take a few minutes to practice the following yoga practices. You will feel restored, revitalised and energised. Ready to go with the flow and enjoy being with your family.
Your breath is your constant companion. Sit down, close your eyes and take a slow steady breath in through your nose for a count of four and slowly exhale, again through your nose for a count of four. Repeat 3-7 times. Slowly open your eyes. Lower your shoulders. Smile and re-engage with your day.
Interlink your fingers and stretch your arms straight up over your head. Slowly lean over to the right. Stay for a few moments allowing your breath to flow softly and deeply through your body. Come back to centre and repeat, leaning over to the left. Keep your hips facing forwards and lower your shoulders as you stretch into the pose.
3. Tarzan Roar
This is a great exercise to release built up tension. Try it with your children. Make a gentle fist with your hands and thump your chest. Roooaarrrr out loud like Tarzan. Shake your hands and be still, tuning into the sensations of your body.
These simple yoga exercises won’t instantly turn your family into a Happy Family. Yet as we know, happiness comes from within. Learning to let go off your stress, worry and frustration makes it easier for you to ride the waves of family life, to be present and mindful and ultimately a happier person to be around.
Let me know how you get on. I welcome your feedback and ideas for further tips how yoga can improve your relationships at home and work.
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