It’s no secret that yoga is a popular activity these days. From gyms to studios, to schools, the practice is becoming all the more mainstream and taking on new and varied forms. One of the wonderful things to come out of the yoga craze is the accessibility for children. Teaching yoga to children opens the door to a lifelong practice that nurtures healthy bodies, minds, and spirits. Let’s follow the poses!
Cat And Cow
Any pose that has an animal name is wonderful because it conjures playful, relatable imagery that helps yoga feel more like play. From their hands and knees, walk them through dropping their belly and looking up for Cow Pose, and then arching their back like an angry cat for Cat Pose. Once they master this fluid motion, incorporate the breath, encouraging them to breathe in with each Cow, and out with each Cat.
This variation of Child’s Pose where the tailbone is raised high above the heels is a wonderful stretch for the back and shoulders, but also a good opportunity for introspection. While looking down at their mat and not at the other children in the room, or any other distractions around, it’s easier for kids to turn inward and settle down.
Teaching Tree Pose to children has a beautiful way of showing them their own inner strength and focus. As we describe the deep roots of a tree, we help kids to stand tall and proud, reminding them that they are each strong, wonderful individuals. As we lead them through the balancing portion by pressing the sole of one foot into the inside of the standing leg, we show them how focus and determination bring great rewards.
With a number of variations, this pose is a great offering for children of all ages and levels. Sitting on their mat with their feet a foot or so in front of them, have the kids place their hands behind them and point their toes they barely touch the mat. Then, they can play with lifting their feet off the mat and raising their arms to reach out in front of them.
From here, you can tap one foot to the mat and then the other, straighten both legs, or even twist the upper body from side to side. The challenge here is to keep breathing — just as we need to learn to breathe through difficult situations.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
From this relaxing position, laying on their backs, it is the perfect time to introduce breathing exercises to children. Just like the names of the poses themselves, there are plenty of kid-friendly breathing games that help them slow down, connect with themselves, and help them learn to listen to their bodies.
These poses are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sharing yoga with children. Kids bring a special lightness to the practice and uninhibited joy that makes them eager to try new things and get into funny positions.