Learn about some of the benefits of yoga as you and your child explore the following fun and simple yoga poses together: Here is what you might say to your child as you both practice yoga together!
- Breathing (Pranayama):
Every yoga class begins with a few quiet minutes to prepare the body and mind for the practice. Breathing helps our minds and bodies relax. Attention to the breath, while tuning out other sights and sounds, improves focus and concentration.
Tell your child: “Let’s sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Slowly, breathe in through your nose (pause), and out through your nose (pause). Breathe in through your nose (pause), and out through your nose (pause). Feel your body and mind getting ready for yoga. Slowly open your eyes.”
- Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana):
This pose helps build strong muscles, flexibility of the joints and spine, and confidence in our body’s ability to move in unique ways!
Tell your child: “Let’s do the dog pose together.” (Begin in an all-fours Position, (hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Curl your toes under, straighten your legs and then your arms. Hold this upside down V position for three breaths. Carefully return to all fours). Ask your child, “How does your body feel?”
- Child’s Pose:
Poses such as this one massage our internal organs such as our brains, hearts, lungs, and stomachs, bringing fresh oxygen so they can work to their fullest capacity.
Tell your child: “Let’s do the child’s pose together.” (Sit on your heels, lower your forehead to the ground and extend your arms way out in front of you.) Ask your child, “Did you feel your knees pushing on your belly? This pose helps your belly digest food better!”
These are sequences of yoga poses, done without stopping. Vinyasas make our hearts beat faster which strengthens the heart muscle and gives us energy. Yoga pose sequences also help us practice motor planning skills or the skills needed to move different body parts so we can change positions.
Tell your child: “Let’s put our downward facing dog and child poses together.” (Begin with the dog pose, lower to all fours and move into the child’s pose, return to all fours and then the dog pose, back to all fours and the child’s pose. Rest here.) Find your child’s pulse for him and then ask, “Do you feel your heart beating faster? It’s getting stronger!”
- Tree Pose (Vrksasana):
Balancing poses, like the tree, improve our ability to focus, pay attention, and concentrate for longer and longer periods of time.
Tell your child: “Imagine you are a tall tree with roots growing out the bottoms of your feet. Let’s do the tree balance together. (Begin in a standing position with palms touching and thumbs resting on your heart). Shift your weight to your left leg and slowly raise your right foot to your ankle, shin, or inner thigh with your knee facing out. Slowly return your foot to the floor and repeat on the other side.) Ask your child, “Was one side easier than the other? Balancing poses take practice and you will get better and better!”
- Partner and Family Poses:
Doing poses together will help your child build relationship skills and will be loads of fun for both of you!
Tell your child: “Let’s do the Mommy/Daddy dog and puppy poses. I will be the Mommy/Daddy dog and you be the puppy.” (You assume the dog pose and instruct your child to crawl under you. Then have her do the dog pose and turn her head to the side to face yours. Then rub noses together.)
- Make Up Poses Together:
Yoga for kids should be creative. Encourage your child to make up new poses and name them. This is great for practicing language skills. Make the animal sounds. Use natural gestures, too. Hop like a bunny and slither like a snake.
- Relaxation Pose (Shavasana):
This special pose is done at the end of every yoga class, but can be done anytime of the day or night to help us relax.
Tell your child: “Let’s do the relaxation pose together.” (Lie on your backs, palms at your sides facing up, legs fall off to the sides). “Close your eyes. Focus on your breath moving in and out of your nose. Feel your belly rising and falling.” (To help your child relax in this pose, play soft music and dim the lights. You might try an eye pillow to block out the light and a gentle foot or hand massage with light cream.) Ask your child, “How do you feel?”
After the relaxation pose, it is traditional to return to a sitting position, bring your palms together with thumbs touching your heart, and making eye contact and smiling with each other, saying the word, “Namaste,” Namaste is a Sanskrit word that means, “the light in you sees the light in me” or more simply, “we are all special.” This simple greeting teaches all of us about respect.
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