So I am currently doing an instagram yoga challenge with my kids! It is so much fun to do the different poses with them. I started thinking, I should write about how to do yoga with your kids! Simple, easy ways to bring yoga into your lives that can be as good for you as it is for them:)
Think about this…
As adults, people come to yoga for many reasons. A big one is to get healthy. What does being healthy mean? For some it might be losing weight. It might be finding a way to do exercise with a body that has limitations or health conditions that make many other activities uncomfortable. Once we start doing yoga and noticing the physical benefits, suddenly we begin to notice some unexpected bonuses. The deep breathing and calmness that comes from connecting to our bodies illuminates a new way to find stress relief and some head space. As we do yoga more and more, it shows us that by simply connecting with the body, we can become more aware of the state of our physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual well-being.
The physiological benefits of deep breathing alone have been proven scientifically. Yoga brings focus, stress relief, physical activity and helps us to connect with our bodies. What an amazing supply of tools we can share with our children!
There are some easy ways to start teaching children how to do yoga. Loose fitting or active wear clothing are best. You don’t even need a mat, the floor is just fine to do these fun postures. Bare feet is best to help feel into them and so it’s not too slippery;) There are 3 breathing exercises and 8 poses included here. As your child builds focus and concentration, you can begin with a few and work up to doing all of them. Do what works for your kids and go from there. Let’s start with some breathing!
Toy Ride Breath Exercise
Have your child bring their favourite stuffed toy and lay down on his back with the toy on his tummy. Tell him to take deep breaths slowly in through the nose and out through the nose. Kids naturally use their bellies to breath and they can watch their stuffed toy go for a ride on their tummy, up and down. If you get him to take 10 deep breaths, your job is done. If you do this with your child regularly, he will think of it as a fun activity and his nervous system will be soothed at the same time.
Another fun way to get kids to breath is to practice the bee breath. Get her to sit with her legs crossed, nice and tall and take a deep breath in and then hum like a bee until the breath is all exhaled. This calming breath can help release strong emotions like anger, feelings of anxiety and stress. Try for 5 rounds, but I bet she’ll do more. The vibration of the humming on the head feels good and is a great way to stimulate focus and concentration.
The lion’s breath is done by taking a deep breath in through the nose and then as you exhale, you let your tongue stick out and say “hhhaaaa!”. It feels silly and looks silly so it’s a winner! This breath is just another way to have kids focus on breathing deeply while having fun. My kids laugh every time! Do as many times as you wish!
Kids enjoy doing yoga poses, my 4 year old daughter takes her mat out all by herself to show me her downward dog, triangle and warrior 2 on the regular! Downward dog comes easily and kids like it. I get her to take 5 deep breaths in any pose she does. Triangle is a good one. The boat pose is fun because kids are literally trying to look like a boat when they do it, LoL. So I have a little list of poses and pictures to demonstrate them. Encourage your child to breathe deeply for 5 breaths in each pose. It isn’t important to try and find the exact expression of the poses, rather finding the general shape is good for kids, especially when they are just starting out. I have included some general points on form for reference. Do them with your kids and before long they will start wanting to do them on their own!
The Downward Dog
This pose is basically an inverted V. This pose strengthens the hands, arms, shoulders, calf muscles, back and core. The upper body is upside down and so it is calming to the nervous system too. Palms flat, press into entire hand. Relax the neck.
The Triangle Pose
This pose provides stretch and strength to the body. Another great benefit is that it activates the abdominal organs. Try for feet to be wider than hip width, front foot turned to the short end of the mat and back foot with toes facing the long side of the mat. Tip over at the hips like a tea kettle, with the lower arm resting along the front leg or extended down and the top arm up to the sky. Who doesn’t think it’s fun to be a triangle?
The Cobra Pose
This pose is wonderful for opening the heart and lungs. It strengthens the arms and shoulders. It gives a stretch to the abdominals, chest and shoulders too. Laying on the tummy, bring the hands next to the ribcage. Press the tops of the feet into the floor, press into the hands and slowly raise the chest up. Go up as much as is comfortable. Breath and enjoy!
The Warrior 2 Pose
It gives strength to the legs and arms. It gives confidence and focus to the mind. Kids feel powerful and strong! Feet apart further with the front foot facing the short side of the mat and the back foot facing the long side. When bending the front leg, the knee should be above the angle for stability. Arms are parallel to he floor, extend through the fingers. Feel the strength and power of this awesome pose!
The Butterfly Pose
This one helps to open the hips and thighs. It also reduces fatigue and releases tension. It is super fun to do too. My little yogi likes to gently bounce her knees like little butterfly wings when she sits in this one too. Sit tall, bend the knees to bring the soles of the feet together. If the knees are up higher, it’s okay:)
The Tree Pose
Great for balance and grounding! Start with the toes of the bent leg on the floor to gain balance and as concentration and focus grow, move the foot up the leg. Make sure to let the knee be free and rest the foot above or below as you get more balanced with this one. Having the arms out helps with developing balance, hands could be in prayer or reaching up like branches of a tree. Try closing your eyes once you get super grounded in this pose. Just a fun thing to try! Or keep your eyes open and find a to gaze at, helps you balance.
So fun to lift the hips and again open the heart! Keep feet hip distance and flat on the floor. Grabbing the ankles helps to be sure the feet are the right distance from your body. Gives tons of strength to the legs, helps grounding. It helps with stress and improves blood circulation. Try to keep the legs hip width apart as you lift your hips.
Happy Baby Pose
This one releases the low back, excellent to do after bridge pose. It stretches and soothes the spine while calming the nervous system. The legs are bent, knees point towards the floor, feet flexed and you can grab the inside or outside of the feet. You can try rolling side to side in this one for a little massage on your lower back too!
When you are all done, try laying down softly on the floor legs and arms softly next to you. This is relaxation. Close your eyes and imagine birds flying over your head and a rainbow shining over the sky above you. See how long your child will stay here, maybe 15 seconds or 5 minutes!
These breathing techniques and poses are a fantastic way to introduce yoga to your kids. There is a variety of poses meant to help kids focus, have fun, get strong, feel good about themselves and explore their bodies in a healthy way. Hope you have as much fun doing these at home as we do! It’s a fabulous way to have fun together!!!