We all know that yoga has amazing health benefits for us, but what about yoga for kids? Think your children won’t be able to focus on a “slow” and structured program? You might be surprised!
I learned about yoga from watching my mom and her power yoga tapes in our basement as a child. Sometimes I would ask if I could join in and she would gladly make room for me. I’ve been a yoga fan ever since– practicing through college, as well as before, during, and after my pregnancy. I truly believe that yoga is one of best things you can do to maintain and improve your health and there are routines and poses that people of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels can manage.
Six year old Lilu has grown up watching me practice in our “exercise studio” and about a year ago she asked if she could try it with me. I was skeptical that our lovably rambunctious kindergardener would even want to do such a “quiet” activity, but set her up with an extra yoga mat. (The Gaiam Tree of Life Yoga Mat is the one I personally use– I love the pattern!) Wouldn’t you know, she followed along for the entire thirty minutes — and wow is she flexible!
Try starting with a short routine to set yourselves up for success– ten minutes is long enough for kids to reap the strengthening, stretching, and calming rewards of yoga without losing interest.
Here are five poses that are perfect for kids to do with you. Begin by holding each pose for 30 seconds with an equal break in between. As they get the hang of it, you can increase the length of the holds to one minute each.
“Downward Facing Dog” — This might be the most well-known and popular pose, and for good reason! It’s an amazing stretch for the back of the legs, from top to bottom. Downward Facing Dog will also strengthen shoulders, arms, and wrists. Plus, what kid doesn’t like being upside-down?
Hands and feet are shoulder-width apart– imagine making a triangle with your body. Be sure to relax your neck!
“Cat/Cow” — This is one of the best back-strengtheners ever and one of the first poses I learned. When I was in elementary school, I was warned that I was at risk for developing scoliosis and would need a back brace if there was no improvement. My mom recommended this exercise, and I did it every day faithfully. My back really did get stronger and straighter (goodbye scoliosis!!), and I still do this pose several times a week.
Starting position is on hands and knees– breathe out, arch back up like a cat and hold. Reverse the pose: breathe in as your head looks up and belly sticks out towards the floor.
“Crescent Pose” — This is Lilu’s favorite! Crescent Pose is a full stretch for the entire front of the body, plus it builds leg strength and challenges balance.
Feet point forward, front leg is bent at a 90 degree angle. Back leg is straight, up on your toes, with heel pushing toward the wall behind you. Arms and fingers point toward the ceiling, but make sure to keep shoulders down. Switch legs and repeat.
“Tree Pose” — This is my personal favorite pose! I love the feeling of tranquility that comes from being “rooted” into the ground. A wonderful way for kids to work on patience and balance.
Stand on one leg, bend raised leg and press foot into the inner thigh. Hands are in a prayer position. Switch legs and repeat.
“Child’s Pose” — Meant to mimic a baby in the womb, Child’s Pose is the perfect way to wrap up the routine– with total relaxation!
Sit on knees, feet pointed. Lean over and rest forehead on the ground, arms relaxed beside you. If you’re less flexible you can open your knees.
It’s so important to teach kids healthy habits while they’re young, and they’ll be so much more enthusiastic about exercise if you’re doing it with them. This is a simple, yet effective routine that you’ll both benefit from– and have fun too!
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