Over the past few years, the practice of yoga has started to open up for children as the positive effects of mindfulness and body awareness have become more widely recognized.
Yoga provides a wonderful space to explore the mind-body connection and enable kids to tune into their emotional and mental state on a regular basis, which sets the stage for future well being.
The majority of kids’ classes share the theme of joining breath and body in order to increase calm and provide tools for better focus, body awareness, and building a sense of trust in their intuition.
This is done playfully by weaving stories through the poses, focusing on breath and mindfulness, and working together in partner poses.
Whether you are a parent, yoga instructor or both and decide to do yoga with your children or let them embark on their own yoga adventure, one thing I like to state upfront is that yoga for kids is different from a regular adult class.
By introducing children to age-appropriate breathing exercises, adding animal sounds to the poses, and playing fun games, they are able to explore a playful, creative world with limitless possibilities.
Before delving into a fun yoga class with kids, let’s set a few parameters for success and fun!
Three Tips for Fun Kids' Yoga
Set an Intention
What is it that you want to offer to your children by introducing them to yoga?
Do you want to help them find the calm within, increase focus, flexibility, and body awareness?
It’s important to determine what your intentions are so the experience can be enjoyable for everyone involved.
Timing is Everything
Yoga with kids requires an awareness of the attention span of the age you are working with.
In my experience, ages 2-5 work well with 20–30-minute classes and kids 6-12 work well with 45-60 minute classes.
One of the most important aspects of creating a fun learning experience at home is to find an open space free from distractions, with room for everyone to move.
This could be a loft area, a corner of a bedroom, the basement, or even outside!
Let your children set the pace.
If they decide to get goofy in a pose, allow room to explore that. If they decide to create their own poses go with the flow. Remember that this is a voyage of discovery for your children, and they will have their own preferences.
So, let’s explore the fun of doing yoga with kids!
Jungle Rainforest Yoga Sequence for Kids
One of my favorite yoga classes with kids is a Jungle/Rainforest adventure.
We’ll start with a deep breathing exercise to clear the mind and set the pace. For this adventure, we’ll do Lion’s Breath.
To settle into Lion’s Breath, sit comfortably on your heels with your hands on your knees, lean forward, draw a deep breath in through your nose, and exhale through your mouth with a loud roar.
Repeat 3-5 times.
Warm up with Sun Salutations
For these, depending on the age of the kids, I either do the typical sun salutation with chaturangas or skip them and instead step back into a low lunge and flow from Warrior 1 to Warrior 2, Side Angle, and Reverse Warrior.
Repeat 3 times on each side.
Our adventure will start with flying on an airplane to the Jungle or Rainforest!
Drawing weight to one foot, extend your arms to the side, hinge forward from the hips, and extend your other leg back. Feel free to make airplane noises and repeat on other side.
Upon landing we’ll drive into the heart of the Jungle!
Chair is a great pose to use as a car or truck. Keeping your feet hip distance apart, sink into your chair and move your hands side to side as though driving.
Looking at all the trees around us, move into tree pose to be as strong and stable as the trees.
Setting your gaze, draw your hands to heart center, shift your weight into one foot as you bring the other foot to your ankle or upper thigh, extend your hands to the sky and blossom into the branches of your tree.
Repeat on the other side.
Play in the trees like the monkeys! Reaching one arm up to the sky, hop around like monkeys swinging through the branches as you keep switching arms from side to side.
Standing with your feet as wide apart as comfortable, bring your hands together, extending your arms overhead and fold forward.
Keep raising your arms (which are your trunk) up and down like you’re spraying water or dirt on your back like elephants do.
Moving into a squat, hop up and down like frogs. Feel free to add a ribbit here and there!
Lowering to your hands and knees, extend your left leg behind you and your right arm in front of you. Your leg is your tiger tail which can be swished side to side and your hand is your paw reaching out. Switch sides.
Laying on your belly with your hands under your shoulders, bring your feet together and lift your chest up, either holding the pose or swaying side to side like a cobra.
Staying on your belly, extend your arms out in front of you with one hand on top of the other. Slowly extend your top hand open and closed like an alligators’ mouth.
We’ll end our adventure by taking a boat back to our airplane.
Sitting with your feet hip distance apart on the mat, engage your core, lifting your feet off the mat and using your hands as rows to row your boat.
Wind down with happy baby pose and gentle twists, ending in a 1-minute final Savasana.
If you feel like resting longer, feel free to do so based on the energy level of the kids you are working with.
I hope you’ve had fun with this yoga adventure!
The main lesson I’ve learned from teaching children and doing yoga with my own kids is that yoga is a practice to build on throughout their lives and simply giving them a foundation from which they can blossom and thrive is a beautiful thing.
Giving children the gift of yoga is a gift for a lifetime. Enjoy this time to share your love of yoga with them and watch them take flight. Remember to enjoy the journey and stay gentle with yourself and them as they explore all that yoga has to offer.