Yoga is a wonderful practice with benefits for all ages and abilities. The thing is, most people don’t find yoga until they are already young adults. While it is great to get started at any age, imagine what would happen if somebody started practicing as a child.
Yoga offers us tools that we can use in our life every day. It teaches us mindfulness and meditation techniques on top of the fun poses that it offers. Kids yoga also provides these lessons, but they are presented in an engaging, exciting way.
Instead of sitting in a silent room with calming music as adults do, kids will often have a class filled with songs, games, stories, and so much more! In fact, kids are usually encouraged to let out “silly sounds” through chanting and other activities. For children, stillness and silence are not as relaxing in the same way they are for adults. Kids have a lot of energy and need to move and be true to themselves and their urges. Yoga allows them to do this in a safe and fun way. Kids yoga can also be done at home. Many videos online offer great classes that are aimed at both kids or the whole family! You can also teach some yoga to your kid(s) yourself.
Here are five yoga poses that you and your kids can try today:
This is one of the easier poses to do, but it is so fun! This pose is done by sitting on the ground with the knees out to the sides and the feet together. Bring the hands to the feet and flap your knees up and down like a butterfly. Now, have your kids tell you where they want to fly to. Talk about all the places you are going and the things you see. This is a great way for kids to express creativity.
These are two poses in one. Start on the hands and knees and on the inhale, arch the back and turn the head all the way up to the sky while also bringing the hips up. This is Cow Pose. On the exhale, round the back completely and touch your chin to your chest, tucking the hips under. This is Cat Pose. Now, each time you come up into Cow Pose, you and your child should moo as loudly as you can. When you go into Cat Pose, you should both meow just as loudly. Go back and forth and change the volume from louder to quieter each time. This is a very engaging practice and is great for posture! This is also a wonderful way for younger kids to learn their animal names and sounds. Did you know kids can do yoga before they can even talk?
This pose is fairly straightforward, and kids love it! In fact, this pose is probably one of the most commonly requested ones by children. Start by squatting down with the knees out to the side and the hands-on the ground between the feet. Now, have your child jump up and shout, “ribbit!” They can keep doing this, hopping around the room and pretending to be a frog. This is also a great stretch for the hips and strengthens the leg muscles.
This pose is done by laying on the stomach with the hands-on either side of the chest and the elbows bent in. Inhale and press up, lifting the chest and head from the ground. Be careful not to overextend the back in this pose. Only come up as far as the back muscles allow naturally. Don’t push too hard with the hands. As you come up, you and your kid can hiss like a snake. Come back down slowly, as if hiding behind a log. Each time you come up, make a hissing sound again.
This pose doesn’t have the nicest name, so if you prefer, you can call it “Savasana” (pronounced Shavasana) which is its Sanskrit name, or Meditation Pose. This pose is super easy and just involved lying down on the back with the arms and legs out to the sides and the eyes closed. If kids prefer, their eyes can stay open. There are many guided meditations for kids on youtube, but you can also create one by describing a beautiful outdoor scene and asking your child to tell you what they see, smell, hear, taste, and feel. Your kid can also create the meditation, and you can take turns making them up. These are great to end practice with and very relaxing. Keep in mind that kids cannot be still for as long as adults, and keeping the mind active during this exercise is extremely helpful for them.
Benefits of kids yoga include, but are not limited to, less stress and anxiety, more control over breathing, greater self-esteem, better concentration and focus, more awareness, improved memory, better sleep, stronger muscles, and so much more! The benefits of kids yoga are endless, and practices can be customized to each individual child.
Lindsay Luterman-Sevel is a yoga instructor, trainer, Reiki Master, and a published author of five books. She teaches Reiki and runs a yoga school to certify other instructors. She holds her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Certification through the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, her 1000 Hour Yoga Teacher Certification through Naropa University, and her Children’s Yoga Certification through Kidding Around Yoga.
Lindsay is mastered in two forms of Reiki energy healing (Usui and Karuna). She has also earned her Associates of Arts in Early Childhood education, and her Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary studies- focussing in Education and Health Science- through Liberty University. She now lives in Baltimore with her husband and their pets.