It’s no secret that yoga provides both the mind and body with endless benefits. Teaching our children about yoga at an early age can help them feel more focused, less stressed, and much calmer. Not only does yoga get children moving and engaged but it can also be fun for everyone!
One company that is famous for their playful approach to traditional yoga postures and practices is the international kids’ yoga teacher training company known as Kidding Around Yoga!
Attend one of their children’s classes and you’ll find little yogis jogging through a jungle, yodeling from a mountain top, or making a giant, room-sized pizza all while exploring their bodies and minds through yoga.
Want to get a taste of some of the fun? Here are a few of Kidding Around Yoga’s favorite children’s poses:
Traditionally used as a resting pose, Child’s pose is a lovely way to settle your energy and reconnect with your breath.
Step by step:
1. Kneel down and let the tops of your feet rest on the floor. Bring your big toes together. Then lower your hips back and sit on your heels.
2. Extend your arms in front of you and place your palms down on the mat. Alternately, you can place your arms along your sides, fingers toward your toes, palms up if that feels more comfortable.
3. Allow your belly, heart, and forehead to come to the ground. Become soft and still, letting your body sink into the earth.
4. Observe your breath: feel it moving in and out of your nose. Feel your belly and chest fill as you press into the earth with your legs.
Once your child is in Child’s pose, have them pretend they are a ladybug in need of their spots.
Then, ask your child how many spots they’d like to have. Help put the spots on their back, one-by-one, by applying deep pressure (think a gentle massage) with your finger for about five seconds before moving onto the next spot. Be sure to ask if they’d like more or less pressure.
After all the spots have been applied, switch places.
Another pose used for resting, aligning, and stretching is Downward-Facing Dog.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Step by step:
1. Begin by getting on all fours.
2. Spread your fingers apart and bring your wrist crease parallel to the front of your mat. Press downward into your hands.
3. Curl your toes under and lift your hips up and back.
4. Place your feet hip distance apart and your hands shoulder-width distance apart.
5. Press down and forward through the knuckles and rotate the inner parts of your arm forward. Squeeze your elbows toward each other and lift the inner armpit.
6. Root your shoulder blades against your back ribs.
7. Draw your belly button in toward your spine.
8. Press your heels toward the floor.
9. Relax your neck and rest your gaze toward your ankles.
Kidding Around Yoga’s favorite way to play in Downward-Facing Dog is with the use of a play tunnel. This activity is fun with a group of people, but it can be a partner activity as well!
First, add some fun music. Then everyone except one person known as the “crawler” lines up, side-by-side and comes into Downward-Facing Dog. This is what we refer to as the “tunnel” or “doghouse”.
The crawler then comes to their belly or gets on all fours and crawls through the tunnel. The others need to be barking, panting, howling, and wagging their tails as the crawler passes by.
Once the crawler has crawled through the tunnel or dog house, he or she gets into Downward-Facing Dog at the end of the line and the person at the front of the line becomes the crawler.
Continue until everyone has had a turn as the crawler.
Want to stretch the hips and groin? Bound Angle pose is a great option. In kids’ classes, Bound Angle pose is often referred to as Butterfly pose since the bent legs resemble butterfly wings.
Sanskrit: Baddha Konasana
Step by step:
1. In a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together. Draw your heels in toward your pelvis and allow your knees to relax out to the sides.
2. Clasp your fingers around your toes as you inhale. Press your chest forward as you lengthen the spine.
3. Bend forward as you exhale, maintaining a long spine.
4. Exhale and draw the abdominals in and forward. Drawing the chest toward the toes.
One at a time, while your child is seated in Butterfly pose, ask them what color their wings are.
Next, have them inhale that color through their nose while bringing the knees up and together.
Then, have them exhale the color through their nose while the legs settle back into Butterfly pose. Encourage your child to really feel the color filling them up when inhaling, and spreading onto their wings as they exhale.
Playing in Butterfly pose comes naturally, flapping their wings and using their imagination to fly from place to place, from flower to flower. Add some conscious breathing to the wing movement, and you’ve got a powerful tool for stress relief that kids will remember.
The most important pose in any yoga class is Corpse pose, and at Kidding Around Yoga it is the pose used to rest in the “secret garden”.
Step by step:
1. Gently recline onto your back and extend your legs.
2. Next, soften the groin and let your feet turn out evenly. Allow your legs to rest on the mat and your arms to settle alongside the body. Place the palms facing upward to help open the chest.
3. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in.
4. Exhale and let your eyes sink back into your head as you gaze inward. Soften your tongue, jaw, nose, eyebrows, and forehead.
Have your child rest comfortably on their back on a yoga mat. They may want a blanket or stuffed animal to rest with if it helps them stay still.
As your child rests with their eyes closed, have them imagine that their mat has magically turned into a magic carpet, floating up into the air and flying to their “secret garden”. Children can imagine landing anywhere they feel safe and calm, using their imaginations to decorate their garden however they’d like.
Remind them to use their five senses to explore their garden. Then let them rest quietly in the garden for a few minutes.
When they are ready to fly back, their magic carpet lifts them up again and flies them back home. Before they start moving again, encourage your child to remember how it felt to be quiet, calm, and safe. Remind them that they can revisit their secret garden whenever they need to feel peaceful.