• Rowan Evans

Another Angle: Joanna Daley - Holistic Family Coach

Steph and I are huge fans of yoga and meditation, and as busy working mums it can be the only thing that keeps us sane. But have you ever considered the benefits of yoga and mindfulness for your children? When I met Joanna Daley, a family yoga specialist, earlier this year, I was fascinated by her approach to family wellness. I caught up with Joanna this week, to learn more about what she does and her top tips on getting little ones involved in holistic family living.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My passions are yoga, travelling, and people. These passions have led me to my life’s purpose as a Holistic Coach and Yoga Instructor. I have been practising yoga for 14 years, working as a counsellor for 11, and teaching yoga for 4. I have worked in Boston, NYC, and Bali, and recently transitioned my coaching and teaching online to reach clients globally.

What is your background?

I have been working in the counselling profession since 2006 and spent eleven years as a school counsellor, recreational wellness specialist and yoga instructor in Boston, New York and Bali.

Leaving my job as a school counsellor in Boston was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. I was deeply connected to the community I had worked in for six years, I adored my colleagues, and above all, I loved those kids. However, I found the courage to give up 'good' for 'great'. I knew there was a greater gift for me to share with this world. And so, I chose to pursue a career in yoga therapeutics and recreational development in New York City.

I spent three and a half years in NYC. It was an extraordinary experience and allowed me to grow tremendously both spiritually and professionally. My path then led towards entrepreneurial life in Bali. That is where I set up my online business and met my fiancé, Pete! I combined my favourite parts of my past professions into a rewarding career as a holistic family counsellor for parents and children.

What do services do you offer?

My three main services are therapeutic wellness plans, holistic family coaching packages, and family yoga and meditation sessions.

THERAPEUTIC WELLNESS PLANS: A customized therapeutic wellness plan created for deliberate transformation. Derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory and includes therapeutic yoga sequences, personalized meditations, suggested affirmations, and nutritional recommendations to bring you into balance and maximum health.

HOLISTIC FAMILY COACHING: Holistic Family Coaching is the key to building a beautiful home life. I support mums and dads on their journey to becoming mindful parents. I am here to focus on your unique family and to address all of the lifestyle factors that come into play when creating a peaceful and purposeful home. Sessions are held online or in person.

FAMILY YOGA & MEDITATION: Experience immediate transformation with personalized therapeutic yoga and meditation classes. Customized sequences and practices to inspire breakthroughs in the way parents and children connect with another, achieving immediate and lasting change. A powerful way to create a more connected and loving family. Available in person and through videos on YouTube (as of this month)!

Why is practising yoga as a family beneficial?

There is no doubt about it: families who practice together tend to have a more peaceful and harmonious home, stronger communication, and a greater depth of connection.

Life is busy and families are feeling more disconnected than ever before. In my work as a child counsellor, I discovered that families were looking for a way to bond in the midst of their hectic schedules. I strongly feel the key to creating meaningful and time efficient bonding lies in discovering an activity the entire family enjoys. One activity that has been tried tested by many families, and has proven to be a real winner is yoga. Not only is it an activity created to connect, but it adds a lot of interesting family dialogue and tools to navigate the challenges of everyday life.

While some parents are looking for a way to more deeply connect with their children, others come to me looking for support within a specific area of struggle:

Bringing mindfulness to meal timesCreating peaceful bedtime ritualsDeveloping alternative solutions to temper tantrumsReducing stress at schoolEase with life transitions (changing school, moving countries, divorce, etc)Building social skills to make authentic friendshipsSolutions to sibling rivalryDecreasing irritability/moodinessLooking for tools to improve communication with their child

Regardless of the reason they reach out to me, 100% of parents have reported a difference in their children (and themselves) after the first session, and after a few weeks of integrating the wellness plan, life is significantly different. The challenges that brought them to holistic family coaching are dissolving and there is hope for a peaceful future. After a year, the power of these shared practices have fully rooted in the families culture and the possibilities are limitless.

How does it work? How do you get the kids engaged?

When teaching children I aim to nourish their imaginations through play, movement, and breath. I incorporate colouring, toys, songs, and games. The key is to find a balance of structure and fun! I get creative with our practice and make it relevant both the kids and parents I am working with.

When is the best age to get your kids involved in yoga?

As early as possible! I’ve worked with babies as young as 6 weeks! However, the beauty in yoga is that it’s never too late (or too early) to start. Kids are total naturals when it comes to yoga. Their curious mind and sense of play make them the perfect students! In my experience, most children are extremely interested in learning both yoga and meditation. The yoga provides them with ways to strengthen their body and the meditation gives them the tools to control their breath, feelings, and emotions.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give to families wanting to do yoga together?

The best piece of advice I can offer anyone who wants to start doing yoga as a family is to first start with your own personal practice. I always say, ‘You must be the change you wish to see in your family.’ It is powerful for parents to develop their own practice and to do yoga and meditation at home with their children present. This gets their little minds curious about what mum and dad are up to, and in turn, they are more eager to participate in the family sessions.

What is the future of family yoga?

The future of family yoga lies within holistic holidays! In 2019, I will be launching a new division of my company: family yoga retreats in the UK providing digital detoxes for both parents and kids. Families will be able to pick and choose from yoga classes, guided meditations, nature walks, bodywork sessions, coaching sessions, holistic cooking demonstrations, and children day adventures.

For more on what Joanna does, and to hear about how she can work with your family, visit her site: www.joannadaley.com

Photo Credits - Pete Hunt @disruptorhunt