Yoga is having its time, and for good reason. This ancient practice of aligning mind and body helps foster focus, creativity, calm, strength, flexibility, awareness, and overall health.
A growing body of research strongly suggests that yoga improves the following for kids:
Yoga increases proprioception for kids and adults. Proprioception is your awareness of where your body is in space. A strong sense of proprioception is important in athletic activities, playing musical instruments, writing, etc. It also plays a large role in a child’s focus, speech, alertness, and self-regulation.
In adolescence, the mind and body develop at a rapid pace. When kids practice yoga during this developmentally pivotal time, it encourages an even deeper mind and body connection.
Introduce your child to some basic yoga poses through game play. Here are two of my favorites that you and your child may already be familiar with.
This is a great game to begin with when your little ones are just learning the poses.
This game is just like Simon Says. It is great once your child has a basic understanding of poses and their names.
Note: You can incorporate just two or three poses in with other instructions such as “touch your toes” or “reach to the sky”.
Yogakids.com has compiled a more extensive list of games to choose from.
Ideally, yoga will be something they look forward to, now, and throughout their life. To keep them coming back for more, avoid making it an obligation or something they suffer through past the point of interest. The amount of time you begin with will vary by your child’s age, current physicality, and attention span. It is okay if they only engage for 2 minutes. Keep it light and fun and you will eventually see the time expand.
Not only will watching you bend and twist into funny shapes initially pique their interest, it can help to hold it as well.
You do not need to be flexible or have any previous yoga experience yourself! Learning together can make this new experience less intimidating for your child. Let little ones position your body or ask older kids to critique your form. They will LOVE being able to teach YOU something and it will boost their own confidence.
Give your child as much control over their practice as you can. Which yoga mat do you want to use? Which poses/video would you like to do? Do you want to practice inside or outside? Do you want to pick out a special yoga outfit?
Many kids thrive on routine for everything from bedtime to playtime. When a child expects to do a certain activity, they are usually more likely to go along with it. If you have not fully embraced schedules and checklists you can still incorporate this into a loose routine by designating “Yoga Sundays” or choosing yoga-based games during your current play times.
YouTube is a treasure trove of free yoga videos for kids. Following along to a video can take some pressure off you and potentially keep them engaged a little longer. Here are some to consider:
Cosmic Kids Yoga
A lively, brightly colored, “wiggles” like classes for toddlers to preschoolers. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube or you can access videos on their app for a fee. Most kids absolutely love these videos though they can be a little grating on the parents’ nerves.
Yoga for Beginner Kids
An energetic, engaging yoga class for preschool aged children. The instruction is perfect for little ones, especially those who may be overwhelmed with the bright graphics of the cartoon-based teachings.
Yoga for Kids
These videos for school aged children have the structure of a traditional yoga class but with incorporated play and cute cartoon characters that make periodic appearances. It is a good transition for kids that are still entertained by cartoons but will soon be ready for a more serious yoga style.