Parents, we hear you. Getting your child to sit still is never an easy task. But one yoga instructor is showing it's possible to do just that, and more.
Pilar Salazar has been doing yoga for the past 14 years, and teaching her own classes for half of those. The Costa Rican native honed her craft at Bodhi Surf School, where she practices Ashtanga yoga.
Today, she works to get others just as excited about the discipline.
"I knew I was going to like it. I like physical exercising and dancing. I have always been a very fit girl. When I went to Hatha yoga, it combined what I like about body movement and spirituality."
Luckily for Salazar, she often has at least one buddy to perform the sequences with — her 5-year-old daughter, Maya.
Ever since she could walk, Maya has been practicing yoga. Her first move? Downward-facing dog.
"She has been very surrounded by practitioners, so it has been very present in her life."
Whether Maya is active for 15 minutes or an hour, she is reaping the many benefits that yoga offers. Salazar shared those and a few tips exclusively with TODAY.com.
Yoga creates bodily awareness
It gives kids moves, stretches and a better connection with their bodies.
It puts emotions under a magnifying glass
They learn how to breathe deeply and understand their emotions better. What I have learned through the practice of yoga — we can apply it through the day. "If she gets upset during the day, I ask her to take a moment, breathe deeply and figure out what exactly we are feeling," Salazar said.
With good posture, comes better coordination
Coordination is really important for kids to develop. The process helps with flexibility, coordination of movement and connection to oneself.
Do it as a family
Try to make it the most fun thing to do. Rather than sending them off to a children's yoga class, do it as a family. If we want people to learn, we always have to think about the best way to introduce information based on where the person is in their journey. It's a learning process that you'll take on together.
There are many ways to ease into yoga, especially for families who haven't previously tried it.
Sun salutations, which are very simple ways to stretch, are for kids around 4 years of age or older. The important thing is to make it as natural and playful as it can be, Salazar said. Never force anything — start by doing it as a family.
Kids have a different span of attention than adults, so it's important to be patient and understanding. And so, maybe 10-15 minutes of yoga, three times a week is a great start.
They can start with three to five per day and ultimately build up to 10 per day. From there, they can start incorporating more yoga postures. In order to make it fun, use your imagination and create a story for every move and pose (Salazar tends to develop stories about animals and the jungle).
Salazar shared this sun salutation that she regularly does with her daughter:
1. Start in "mountain pose" with feet and hands together. Pretend you are a mountain, quiet and steady. Close your eyes and concentrate on hearing yourself breathe.
2. Take a deep breath and and raise your hands up to the sky. Can you see the clouds? Try to touch them with your fingertips!
3. Now, bend all the way forward to touch and feel the grass in feet and hands.
4. Jump back as a frog would — your belly is going to touch the floor. As soon as this happens, lift your chest up and pretend to be a cobra.
5. Stretch back to down dog. Hold it here for a moment.
6. OK, Let's jump back to the front, raised your hands back to the sky and come back to mountain pose.