Kids are little tornadoes of energy, which means that they need yoga just as much as the grown-ups I their lives. However, yoga for kids needs to be fun and relevant. You can’t expect them to just roll out a mat and repeat sun salutations one after another! To get kids started with yoga, consider some of these verified tricks of the trade.
Yoga for Kids: Tips for Getting Started
Create a relaxing environment
Find a space in your home that feels dim, cool, and comfy. Decorate it with art and elements that speak to you and your children. Let them choose a mat and blanket that they like and find comforting.
When you are ending your practice, encourage them to lie down and guide them through a meditation with birds, fairies, or other fantastic creatures they’ll love. Instruct them to fill their bellies with air and emphasize that this is their special, happy place where everything and everyone is peaceful.
Young children won’t rest for long, but as you practice, they’ll be able to for longer periods. This part of the practice importantly demonstrates that resting is just as important as moving.
Play a game
Kids may have a difficult time learning the more abstract parts of yoga such as meditation, mindfulness, and empathy. So don’t approach it the same way as teaching adults. Because kids are natural learners, you won’t need to spell out or over-explain these topics.
Instead, dig right in to teaching by action. Games are a fantastic way to do this. Games like “Simon Says do this yoga pose” or “I’m thankful because” develop concentration and inspire positive relationships.
Once you’re standing, turn on music that is made for a kid’s yoga class. Let them get their wiggles out as they practice more poses with music and dance at the same time. Hold hands and dance together or do partner poses, such as star and lizard on a rock.
Great music includes clear names and audible dictation, as well as sensible order and important yogic messages such as showing compassion. However, you can create a yoga routine to any fun song. Popular kid’s movies are always an easy go-to for inspiration.
Use props, books, and tools
If you remember Barney the Dinosaur’s bag, you’re golden. Make the dollar stores, yard sales, and flea markets your best friend. Extra pillows, fun picture books, and meditation bottles work wonders. The bag of “stuff” makes it easier to illustrate concepts that are otherwise a little tough to grasp.
Planning does not have to be expensive or difficult. Just use a bit of creativity and any toy can become a tool to teach a pose or to teach how to be a good friend!
Practice the poses by telling a story
Rather than just listing or calling out the names of the poses, tell a silly story and do the poses as you share the journey of Little Boy Blue or The Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe. Create a fun script that allows you to move from seated, to hands and knees, then to standing.
Better yet, come up with characters and events of your own starring your little one! Be sure to name the poses in ways they will recognize like pretzel, cat, down dog, and tree.
If you want to move beyond these suggestions, you can always look into DVDs and books specifically created to teach yoga to kids. The Yoga Basics for Kids DVD is a good place to start.
Yoga for kids is best presented in a way that makes sense to children and allows them to tap into their silly, carefree nature. Looking at and practicing yoga with a kid’s view brings is a fun way to bring your family together!
Photo credit: Creative Commons user ilona (no changes made.)
Heather Horrell is a yoga teacher and perinatal professional who loves crafting and coffee.