Yoga is a holistic practice suitable for individuals of all ages and physical abilities. It is a gentle exercise form that everyone and in particular children, enjoys. While the benefits of yoga are no secret, for children, they are unique.
Yoga improves children’s attention, their relationships, self-esteem and listening skills. It is also believed to improve symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity and used as a calming mechanism for autism spectrum disorder.
- It builds strength and flexibility
- It improves fine and gross motor skills
- It helps children focus better and be more attentive at school
- It makes them more self-confident and self-aware
- It boosts creativity and imagination
- It helps them relax and sleep better
- It promotes wellness
- It maintains good health
- It strengthens the immune system
- It improves memory
- It facilitates proper breathing and increases lung capacity
One of the most important aspects of yoga is breathing. Breathing techniques create body awareness and help children cope with stress and anxiety.
Yoga is easy and fun and fits into the daily routines.
Yoga for children does not have to be as formal as it is for adults. All you need is some space, some imagination and of course the child and an adult. While a yoga mat is not mandatory, it can be good to get one. Make sure it is non-toxic and washed after each use. Preferably, go in for plain ones in soothing colors rather than mats with prints that can be distracting.
How to get ready to do yoga with kids
- Avoid doing it on a full tummy
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Bare feet are okay, if wearing socks the surface should be non-slip
- Make sure there’s ample space to move
- Select music depending on your goal. Soft music to calm and fast music to energize.
Things to remember
Yoga is more than poses. It is a process of breathing, listening to the body and focusing the mind on the present moment – being mindful. With kids, yoga feels more like a game since the goal is to involve the child in the experience, rather than striking the perfect pose. It is like learning through play.
- Begin with warm up exercises, followed by the yoga poses or asanas.
- Use positive affirmations such as “I am strong”, “I am brave” “I am kind”
- Keep the poses simple and basic and short – deep breath in, deep breath out.
- Don’t do anything that hurts
- Choose poses that involve both sides of the body and offer a balance to move and stretch the body as well as calm and relax
- Breathe consciously
- Get your child used to the idea of doing yoga, so that you can go into the routine easily.
- Do it together, it is more fun that way!
Here are 7 easy and fun yoga poses
Cat or cow pose
This is great for emotional balance. It also releases back muscles and massages the digestive organs.
- Go down on all fours
- Pretendi to be a cat, with back arched
- Meowing is good!
- Bring the back to the normal position
- Pretend to be a cow and moo loudly
This is a typical yogi pose that builds balance as they develop mind-body awareness, better posture and relax, mentally.
- Stand on one leg
- Bend the other knee and place the sole of the foot below or above the opposite knee.
- Raise arms above head, palms joined for balance.
- Sway like a tree, for fun.
Initially it may be tough to stand on one foot, so don’t be too particular. Let the child keep her foot wherever it feels comfortable, perhaps propped on the ground, below or above the opposite knee, or close to the opposite ankle. Let her pretend to be a tree.
Obviously inspired by a child, this is one of the best yoga poses to release stress, stretch the lower back muscles, hips and thighs. It also calms the central nervous system.
- Kneel on the mat, legs tucked under, big toes touching
- Sit back on the heels, knees hip-width apart
- Breathe out, bringing chest to rest on the top of the thighs
- Stretch arms out in front or tuck them by your sides
- Breathe deeply.
- Keep this position up to a count of 20
Again, inspired by a child, children love this! It is a great way to maintain flexibility as it opens the hips, realigns the spine and relaxes the mind.
- Lay down on the mat
- Raise legs up from the hip
- Raise and stretch arms and grab toes
- Rock back and forth for a nice back massage.
This pose builds strength and stamina, while the breathing helps release negativity. Make it fun with lots of yelling and warrior cries!
- Stand comfortably feet apart, shoulders relaxed, arms at the side.
- Take a big step back
- Place your foot so that it faces slightly outwards
- Raise your arms so they are parallel with the ground
- Bend your front knee
- Look forward
- Repeat with the other leg
- Pretend to be a warrior and say “I am strong”
This is a great way to cool down after a few yoga poses. It helps prevent injuries, this is another pose children will love. It also releases neck and shoulder tension, stretches leg muscles and relieves stress.
- Stand straight, arms raised above head
- Breathe out
- Bend body forward
- Let arms fall towards the floor
- Bend knees slightly
- Allow neck, head and arms to hang down
- Sway head and arms from side to side
- Slowly straighten up to standing position
This is best to conclude a yoga session, encouraging deep breathing. Add relaxing music and maybe massage their feet while they cool down. Let the child lay down on a mat, completely at ease.
If you end up cuddling, that is absolutely A-okay!
The most important thing is to make it fun!