Between the crazy high temperatures of late and the mid-summer break boredom that is likely striking your kids at this point, most of us moms are looking for something (anything) to keep the kids entertained indoors. Movement is always a great candidate for channeling energy and encouraging technology-free activity, but many times space/safety/sanity can be limiting factors for what can be done inside the house. Enter yoga! Often a go to activity for the parental population for the same aforementioned reasons, kids can also benefit from the positive outcomes a yoga practice brings. Even better, doing yoga with your kids gives you something to bond over, serves as a conversation starter for the importance of health and wellness, and hopefully brings a little zen to the non-stop day of a parent.
Anyone! Flexibility, a teaching certification, even a regular practice are NOT prerequisites for this activity. Some basic knowledge of kid friendly poses (see below!), a little creativity, and a commitment to fun are all you need. Children are a forgiving audience so if you try and something doesn’t go quite right, no one will notice as long as you are enjoying the time together.
Benefits to Yoga with Kids
Much like what you may have experienced if you have ever taken a yoga class, children can experience a greater sense of calm, reduced anxiety/tension, better sleep, improved digestion, and generally more positive behavior. Happy child, happy mom!
Like with anything, the more regular it becomes a part of your routine, the more you see the benefits so try finding even small moments each day to integrate some yoga fun.
How to Start
- Setting Up: Find some space where your kid(s) have enough room to reach their arms out and not touch something/someone. You can have them trace their own “yoga mat” on the floor around them to create their own space. You can introduce some basic yoga poses by demonstrating and then giving them freedom to show their own interpretation.
- Breathing Exercise: Breath is key component in yoga. Helping your child find their “yoga breathing” can be a great way to focus their energy and channel it in a positive way when they need some calming down. You can have your child seated on your lap, arms wrapped around them so their back is against your chest. Then have them close their eyes and just listen to how their breath sounds naturally. Ask them to see if they can seal their lips together and breathe in and out of their nose only. You can use counting to help lengthen out their breath. As you breathe with them, you can cue them to inhale and exhale with you (the close contact with them supports this). Try this for several rounds of breath and then encourage them to open their eyes slowly and share how they are feeling.
- Yoga on the Farm: Conveniently, many yoga poses are named after animals which makes them perfect for child adaptation. After showing/doing some of the basic poses with your kids, you can create a simple game using the Old Macdonald Had a Farm tune to call out different poses. Animal noises encouraged!
- Freeze Yoga: If your kiddo needs to release a little extra energy, put on their favorite songs and every time you stop the music, they can pick a different pose to “freeze” in. Before starting the music again, you can give them a number of inhales/exhales you want them to take in that shape.
- Bedtime Ritual: A personal favorite for my girls and a regular evening request in our house, we do just a few basic poses right before bed to get rid of the nighttime crazies and prep for a good night of sleep. This includes some centering with child’s pose, grounding with tree pose, and a guided savasana (which, let’s be serious, is everyone’s favorite ending to a yoga class – adults and kids alike). We will spend a few moments incorporating some breath work in child’s pose, then grow our trees (sometimes we try to close our eyes and balance, sometimes we let our branches sway in the wind – just be creative with it) and then everyone finds a spot of the ground to relax. From there, we do a little guided imagery which gives their minds something to do while their bodies unwind. We use a “magic ball of light” so our savasana story sounds a little something like this:
“Take a deep breath in and out. Then imagine there is a magic ball of light that is sitting on the top of your head. It is full of peace and happiness and joy. It travels down your face, past your nose, over your lips and to your neck. It moves down into your chest and into your heart bringing warmth and a beautiful beam of light. Can you feel it warm your heart? Now it travels down through your belly, past your belly button and down your right leg, over your right knee down to your foot, crossing each of your toes. The light ball hops over to your left toes, and is moving past your ankle, over your knee all the way up your left leg. It goes up your belly, past your heart, moving all the way up to the center of your forehead. The magic light ball will stay with you tonight – bringing good dreams and peaceful sleep until morning.”
You can develop whatever feels authentic to you but this gives you the idea!
From there, we gently come up to seated. With eyes closed, we bring hands to heart center and with a little bow we say “Namaste”.
Looking for More?
-Many yoga studios offer classes for kids and some even do parent/child classes.
- Yoga Kids (Gaiam)
- Yoga for Families (Bayview Films)
- Itsy Bitsy Yoga by Helen Garabedian
- Good Night Yoga by Mariam Gates
- Little Yoga by Rebecca Whitford
I hope this brings you peace, love and yoga with your kids – Namaste, mamas!