4 Things My Nieces Taught Me About Yoga.

Via on Jul 28, 2010

(This blog originally appeared on Erica’s Spoiled Yogi blog.  I liked it so much I asked her if I could share it here on Elephant). ~ BW.

My sister, her husband, and their two little girls (ages 4 and 15 months) visited this week so I’ve been pre-occupied with dress-up, bedtime stories, and princesses. Children are natural yogis, so of course I also learned a thing or two about yoga.

Here’s a sampling:

1. “We are all princesses!” The ultimate compliment coming from a 4-year-old girl. I think there’s a lot of truth in it, too. We can be princesses if we make the choice to see the good in ourselves. In yoga terms, it’s like saying we’re all a spark of the Divine. We’re all perfect just the way we are.

2. “This is my special talent–a gift from God!,” announced Rosemary when she discovered that she could actually stand up in three feet of water, and thus could “swim” on her own after keeping a death grip on Aunt Erica for at least an hour. Sometimes we take for granted that simple pleasures (like the ability to swim in a pool) are pretty amazing gifts. “They should make this a part of yoga.”

3. What was your favorite animal at the aquarium? “All of them!” That’s right. It’s impossible to choose one fish, reptile, or amphibian over another when they’re all new and exciting. This is what we call “beginner’s mind” in yoga. The first time you experience something, you’re totally present and open to learning. You giggle with delight the first time you touch a slimy sting ray and are exhilarated when find yourself in a new backbend you’ve never tried. Same thing.

4. While beginner’s mind brings a sense of awe and wander to things, it also introduces an element of surprise–and sometimes fear. When my nieces were scared of something–the ocean, the pool, a snake at the aquarium–they were also curious. I watched as they touched a scaly animal with the tip of one finger (testing the waters, so to speak). Then, when nothing bad happened, they would try again with a little more confidence (two fingers), and so on until their fear vanished. This is how we approach new yoga poses, and it’s a smart way to approach life, too. Always testing our boundaries and limitations, but with caution and respect for the unknown.

About Erica Rodefer Winters

Erica Rodefer is a writer and yoga teacher living in Charleston, SC. As the former online editor for Yoga Journal magazine, she lived and breathed yoga at work and at home. She practiced with amazing teachers every day, went to yoga conferences, and had a supportive environment to live her yoga. Now, she's trying to navigate yoga in the real world. This blog, Spoiled Yogi, is about her journey to find contentment and live in the present, no matter what. Her loves include yoga, writing, crafting, her cat Gracey, and her dog Penny.

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5 Responses to “4 Things My Nieces Taught Me About Yoga.”

  1. Way back when I first started doing yoga–and was finding it…and particularly downward facing dog…incredibly frustrating–I saw my three year old niece playing Twister and, quite inadvertently, doing a perfect, and perfectly effortless, downward facing dog. I thought "wow…that's what you can do without thirty years of tension built up in your body…"

  2. james hackney says:

    Funny, I thought about Erica Rodefer just this morning. I liked her blog about studying to become a yoga teacher which ran last year (I think) on Yogajournal.com

  3. Hi, Erica. As you know, I loved this blog when I first saw it on your blog, and I'm so glad you allowed me to bring it over to Elephant.

    I like the Yoga/kid analogy, and I'm now experiencing it with my grandkids and grand nieces. Direct quote from YogaDemystified.com

    The great gurus of Yoga and other Eastern traditions achieve inner peace and experience the ultimate joy in life by cultivating the boundless wonder of a child. For them every moment is the occasion for innocent amazement, even in the middle of the most trying circumstances. They still experience all the ordinary pain and difficulty of being human. They just process it differently.

    Bob W.

  4. Kids are natural yogis as they live much more in the moment. However they are LOUD. Here is a post about what you can expect in a kids yoga class – it is NOT quiet or introspective. http://yogainmyschool.com/2010/04/12/8-dirty-trut

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