As a yoga instructor, I have taken the lessons I have learned on the mat and tried to apply these lessons to my life. Yoga to me is more than a practice, it is a lifestyle. When you begin to embrace a healthy lifestyle, you start to discover that simple choices can lead to positive lifestyle changes that have a big impact on how you live your life.
I have tried to pass on the lessons I have learned to those that attend my classes as well as friends and family. In today’s fast-paced, media-rich world, there are plenty of resources and information, but sometimes it can be difficult to boil everything down to a personal philosophy and a set of choices that can be applied to your daily life,
For example, when our children were in elementary school, my husband and I started using a very basic, succinct phrase in our house to express the way we wanted our children to think of themselves and the choices they make related to food, exercise, study and play. That phrase is simply, “Healthy & Strong.”
We chose these two words very carefully and made a concerted effort to weave them into our daily conversations with both our son and daughter. As their parents, we wanted to give our children a cornerstone concept they could use to quickly measure feedback they received from their peers and the media as well as a short-cut to assessing personal behavior and daily choices.
By the time our daughter was in 5th grade, she was already having to confront words and concepts like, “skinny” and “fat” and “diet” and “calories” and “carbs.” It was all very confusing to her. While at the same time, our son was having his value judged, sometimes by adults, based on how he performed on an athletic field.
As young parents, we had many discussions about how we wanted to handle the endless scenarios life would present our children. And for us, it always made sense to take a consistent and persistent approach to love and support, education and advocacy, but to handle lifestyle choices with a lighter touch that was easy to understand and simple to put into play.. We hoped this approach would lead to our children developing a skill for decision making that could carry them forward in their lives while allowing their personal likes and dislikes to shine through.
So, for issues related to both their physical and mental health, we wanted to cut through all of the complicated and complex feedback they were getting in their daily lives and give them a very simple concept to focus on as they thought about their body image and their self-worth.
Healthy & Strong became our mantra…and it worked!
The kids got it. We framed our discussions about food and exercise and self-esteem with the simple concept of trying to become healthy and strong each and every day.
We consistently told them that we weren’t exercising so we could get “skinny,” we were exercising because it was fun and because we wanted to be, “STRONG.” And eating food and ingesting calories and carbs was not a bad thing, it was necessary to sustain life! I remember telling my daughter one evening that a calorie was nothing more than a unit of measure for the amount of energy it took to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. And that carbs and fat were both essential forms of fuel that we need to be, “HEALTHY.” The look on her face was priceless and it was evident she was liberated from the confusing chatter she was hearing daily at her school lunch table.
Over the years our entire family has shaped our choices around the notion that our work and our play as well as our diet and our exercise should help us maintain a healthy and strong mind, body and soul.
I think the most rewarding thing about this approach has been that I now hear my children using the phrase, “healthy and strong” with their friends. And we have had other parents approach us and tell us they had heard it from their child and have now adopted the same approach in their household.
Words have meaning, They shape the way young people think. Be healthy, Be strong. It’s that simple.
Sara is the founder of Salveo Yoga and is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) in Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga through Yoga Alliance. She encourages children of all ages and with a variety of interests to include yoga into their daily life in order to develop mindfulness for cognitive challenges and to promote strength and healing in their physical endeavors. Sara’s classes nourish the body and the mind. Her laid-back teaching style reflects her belief that improving one’s health should be fun, energizing and challenging.