Yoga is great for mindfulness and flexability. Read along as Heather Leah, author of Let’s Make Yoga Magic, teaches you the best yoga moves for kids!
Yoga for Kids
Have you heard that yoga is great for children but you aren’t sure how to get started? While there are many definitions of yoga, a useful way to think of it is learning to take care of one’s body, mind, and environment. Yoga is all about listening to our bodies, having fun, and wanting to make the world a kinder place, one interaction at a time. One way to do this is to make shapes with our bodies so we can feel strong, calm, and steady. Yoga poses and shapes are one more tool that parents and caregivers can add to their toolbox of how to help children feel settled in their bodies and learn to regulate their emotions. Here are a few simple poses to incorporate into your daily routine.
1. Snake Pose
Getting down low on the ground and slithering like a snake is a fun way to move around the room! Practice moving around without using your legs to build some upper-body strength and look over each shoulder to stretch the muscles of the neck and the front of the body.
2. Downward Dog Pose
Downward Dog pose (like an upside-down V) is a super fun and active shape to make when little ones have a lot of energy. It can be fun to look at the world upside down and especially fun to jump your feet up when keeping your hands on the ground!
3. Warrior Two Pose
Warrior Two pose is an excellent shape to practice for children because they need to make different movements with each side of their body. Make sure to emphasize that it’s important to “bend one knee and keep the other one straight and strong.” It can be tricky to do different things with each of their legs, but that’s what makes this a fun challenge! Don’t forget to switch sides!
4. Mountain Pose
Mountain pose is a simple but very powerful pose for children. I like to have children stomp their feet a few times to make their legs feel “strong and stuck” in the ground like a mountain. This is a good shape to invite children to feel strong, unmoving, stuck to the ground (grounded), and confident. Children can close their eyes, bring their hands to their heart, and then whisper count to ten.
5. Butterfly Pose
There are so many fun ways to explore this shape with children. Kids can make wings with their arms and legs and flap them up and down. They can twist their wings from side to side, cover their eyes and imagine being “sitting” butterflies on a flower, or keep their feet together and lay their head down to make a “sleeping” butterfly shape. After all that, make sure to stand up and fly around the room!
6. Tree Pose
This is a super fun pose for children to practice balance. It is also a great chance to work on communication, teamwork, and asking for help. Children who feel a little wobbly can hold onto a table, chair, or couch for more stability. They can also practice asking for help to hold an adult’s hand. If there are lots of folks around, you can practice making “forest pose” with everyone holding hands and making trees together. Make sure to check with someone before you take their hand! If you topple over make sure to check on them by saying, “Are you okay? Do you want to try again?”
7. Child’s Pose/Rock Pose
This is another simple but powerful pose for children. The purpose of Child’s Pose or Rock Pose is to close the eyes and rest the body and mind. This is a great shape to make at the end of a practice or before getting ready for bed. You can ring a chime three times, put on a relaxing song, or a take part in a guided visualization for children while in this pose to transition to sleep.
Heather Leah is a poet, teacher, behavior analyst, community organizer, and children’s yoga guide in Washington, DC. She loves to play with paint, words, trees, and her friends. Being outside with her pup, Snoop, is her favorite activity. Raised in Connecticut, she has loved planting roots in the nation’s capital since 2013. When she is not working with children, she organizes yoga and healing spaces across the DC area through her organization, WithLoveDC. Her mission is to spread love and smiles everywhere she goes.