by Erica Rood, M.Ed.
What mother does not want her daughter to feel good about herself? To feel capable, worthwhile, content with who she is, and confident in where she is going? Research has shown that mothers play a significant role in the development of their daughter’s self esteem. Mothers are the ultimate role models for their daughters. The values and attitudes they model and teach are internalized by their daughters and shape their daughters’ self-image and views of the world. While mothering a daughter can be one of the most rewarding relationships, it can also be full of intense emotional extremes, especially during the teen years, when independence beckons. During this time, a healthy and respectful relationship is the key to effective communication. You can lay a strong foundation of trust and respect by establishing open and honest lines of communication early in your daughter’s life. One way in which to do this is to share creative, inspiring experiences together.
Yoga is an excellent tool for creating a sense of openness and awareness. I have received an overwhelmingly positive response from mothers and girls who have participated in my Mother-Daughter Yoga series. In these classes, moms and daughters share so much more than yoga; we engage in inspiring conversations, lively activities, and creative projects, all of which center around important topics including self-image, friendships, stress, bullying, and more. There are so many benefits to learning and having fun in a group setting, but you can also benefit from sharing a creative yoga practice at home.
Here are a few playful and purposeful poses for you and your daughter to try. The suggested poses, conversation starters, and activities are designed to enhance communication in a natural, relaxed way. Use the yoga as an opportunity to take off your “parent hat” and get down on your daughter’s level. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and honest and you will see your daughter do the same.
ROCKY BOAT POSE
Off the mat: Use boat pose as a springboard into a discussion about how life will present challenges that make you feel unstable. It’s during those times, when we need to reach out for support from each other. Discuss the challenges each of you face. Share how you react to challenges. Do you ask for help? Do you work through challenges alone? Do you avoid challenges altogether?
Activity: Role-play challenging situations and explore different responses.
STABLE SIDE PLANK
Start facing each other in a plank or modified plank (like the top of a push- up, with knees up or knees down to modify.) Rock to the edge of your right foot and press into your right hand. Slide your left leg on top of right and reach for each other’s left hand. If you feel the pose is easy and you are stable, try to lift your top leg. If you are feeling unstable, take your right knee down for extra support. Switch sides.
Off the mat: Use this pose to launch a discussion about the importance of maintaining balance in life. Talk about how to determine when it’s appropriate to add an extra challenge or activity and when you should back off and reach out for support. What events or activities make you feel off-balanced and stressed? How do you balance your current activities and keep your stress level low? What can you do to create more balance in your life?
Activity: Create a “Balance Sheet” that lists actions you can take to maintain balance in your life. Schedule a “Day of Balance” when you try an activity together.
TWIST OUT TOXINS
Sit back-to-back in a comfortable cross-legged position. Take a big belly- breath in and reach your arms up. As you breath out, turn and twist to the right. Reach around for each other’s knees. Switch sides.
Off the mat: Twists are great for detoxing the body and a perfect opportunity to start a discussion about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. What are some of your favorite healthy foods? What new food or recipe can you explore together?
Activity: Go online together and research the nutritional values of some of your favorite foods. Are you surprised? Find a healthy recipe you can make together. There are delicious suggestions on sites like Pinterest.
Start standing tall with your feet together. Step your left foot back and pivot your foot slightly (about 45 degrees.) Bend your right knee and keep your left leg straight. Extend your arms and reach your fingertips away from each other. Feel your amazing strength and shout out: “I am strong!”
Off the mat: Warrior poses are symbolic of strength. They challenge our bodies and in turn, challenge our minds. Use this pose to talk about inner vs. outer strength. When is it appropriate to use physical strength? When do you need to tap into your inner strength? Share your experiences of using your inner and outer strength.
Activity: Create a “Wise Warrior” collage. Cut out pictures and words that describe qualities of inner and outer strength. Include pictures of personal heroes and role models.
If you’re interested in joining a Mother- Daughter Yoga series or hosting one at your home, please contact me. It is my passion and purpose to empower moms and daughters and inspire young women to live confident, happy lives!