Yoga for Kids: Benefits and 17 Poses and Exercises To Get Started

Yoga for Kids: Benefits and 17 Poses and Exercises To Get Started. Kids’ yoga can help them become more aware of their bodies, minds, and feelings.

Doing yoga can help you be more aware of your life. It’s good for your mental health and your self-esteem. It can make your body stronger and more flexible.

In addition, yoga is good for everyone, not just people. Yoga is also good for kids’ health in big ways.

“Yoga is a great way for kids to calm down, get to know themselves, and learn more about their bodies and feelings,” says RYT 200 yoga teacher Valerie Williams.

What good things do kids get from yoga? Also, how do you start a yoga practice for kids? Let’s get started.

Benefits of kids’ yoga

Some people might think of yoga right away as a physical exercise where you bend so far that your nose touches your knees or twist your body into pretzel shapes. In yoga, however, physical poses are only one tool that is used.

For the most part, yoga is a way to keep your mind and body in balance. Yes, that includes poses, but it also includes things like meditation and deep breathing.

And that trio of moving, breathing, and being aware of the present moment can help both kid’s and adults’ bodies and minds.

Williams says among the perks she sees in teaching yoga to kids are

  • Better control of emotions.
  • Better understanding of what they think, feel, and do.
  • Better behaviour.
  • Better ability to focus.
  • Better physical health.
  • Better ways to connect with other people.

Researchers have come to similar conclusions. For example, one study found that kids in second and third grade who took a 10-week yoga class were less stressed. They were better at interacting with others, paying attention, coping, feeling confident, doing well in school, and having a good mood.

How old do kids need to be to start yoga?

Kids and adults can start doing yoga at any time. Because yoga can be changed to fit almost anyone, no matter what age or level of fitness they have.

“Kids can start to learn how to use their breath to calm down as early as toddlerhood.” Williams says, “They can start to understand that stretching their arms over their heads feels good.” “Yoga ideas like breathing and moving on purpose are easy for even little kids to understand.”

Yoga poses for kids

Williams talks about some of her favorite moves to do with kids and why she thinks they are good for them.

Note: It’s important to tell little kids that yoga poses should never hurt when they first start doing them. Tell them it’s okay to push their bodies just enough to feel a little stretch.

Child’s pose

Ages: Toddlers and up.

What to do:

Place your feet on the ground and kneel down with your knees together.
Let your belly rest on your legs as you hinge forward at the hips.
Put your arms out in front of you straight and touch your elbows to your ears. Touch the floor with your hands and face.
Pause for a moment and take a deep breath in.
Relaxation is the best advantage.

“Child’s pose is good for everyone, from preschoolers to older adults,” Williams says. “Child’s pose can help you feel better and calm down.”

Why?

When you bend forward deeply, the nerves in your lower back become active. This makes your parasympathetic nervous system take over. That is the “rest and restore” mode for your body.

“When we press our thighs against our belly, it can help to activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which turns off our fight-or-flight response. Once we’re out of fight or flight, the “rest and restore” part of our nervous system takes over,” Williams says. “In this way, poses like child’s pose can help our bodies feel better and heal.”

Cobra

Ages: Toddlers and up.

What to do:

Flat on your back on the ground.
Lie on your back with your hands flat on the pad.
Push into your hands, bend your back, and push your heart forward as you slowly lift your head and upper body off the floor. Keep your elbows at your sides.
Stretch your arms out as far as they will go without hurting and keep your hips on the ground.
Pause for a moment and take a deep breath in.
Emotional opening, back strengthening, and flexibility are some of the benefits.

Williams says, “I like poses with lots of back bends for older kids because they can teach us to open up our hearts.” “Emotions like compassion, trust, and forgiveness are held in the heart. So through poses where we push our chests forward and arch our backs, we can encourage more loving emotions.”

Star pose

Ages: Toddlers and up.

What to do:

Keep your back straight and your legs wider than hip-width apart.
Lay your arms out straight in front of you, shoulder-level.
Pause for a moment and take a deep breath in.
Confidence is the best reward.

“One of my favourite poses for little kids is star pose,” Williams says. “Kids have a hard time with confidence, but poses like star pose help them feel good about taking up space and calling their own space in the world.”

Downward-facing dog

Ages: Toddlers and up.

What to do:

Get down on your knees and spread your feet about hip-width apart.
Put your hands just under your shoulders in front of you.
Bring your toes close to the ground.
Move your hips back and up.
Drop your head so that you can see what’s between your legs.
The shape of your body will resemble an upside-down “V.”
Pause for a moment and take a deep breath in.
Inversion, relaxation, and stretching are all good for you.

Many types of yoga include downward-facing dog as a main pose. It can help with strengthening, stretching, and flexibility. Being upside down (inverted) can also help with calming poses because it can boost blood flow, which can make your body feel both energised and calm.

Tree pose

Ages: at least elementary school age.

What to do:

Keep your feet together and your arms facing each other at your heart.
Keep your eyes straight ahead.
Stand up straight and bring the bottom of one foot to the side of the ankle of the other leg.
Get that foot to the middle of your other calf, knee, or upper thigh. If that’s easy, try to keep your balance.
Hold it for a short time.
Do it again with your other foot.
Balance and focus are two benefits.

Balancing poses are great for older kids because they help keep their minds in check. “Kids are learning about their place in the world, and sometimes they can get off-center. It can be hard to balance school, home, sports, and all the other things they are doing and learning. So, I think doing a lot of balancing poses is great for older kids.”

Warrior 1

Ages: at least elementary school age.

What to do:

Be strong.
Spread your legs apart by bringing one leg back.
Turn your back foot out about 45 degrees and point your front foot forward.
Put your weight down and bend your front knee 90 degrees.
Lift both arms straight up in the air and look straight ahead.
Pause for a moment and take a deep breath in.
Do it again on the other side.
Boosting confidence and making you stronger.

Williams says, “Warrior 1 is all about taking back space, building strength, and building confidence. It can help kids feel strong and powerful.”

Warrior 2

Ages: at least elementary school age.

What to do:

Spread your legs out wide and point your toes forward.
One foot should be turned out 90 degrees. This is your front foot.
Drop your weight and bend your front knee 90 degrees. Keep your other knee straight, but don’t buckle it.
Don’t turn your upper body towards that foot in front of you.
Hold your arms out straight in front of you, shoulder-width apart.
Your chin should stay level with the ground as you turn your head to look at your front foot.
Pause for a moment and take a deep breath in.
Do it again on the other side.
Boosting confidence and making you stronger.

William Williams says, “Warrior 2 can be harder to hold, and kids might feel their muscles start to shake or get warm. Those feelings can help them become more aware of what their bodies can do. They might think, ‘Oh, I feel strong here.'”

Warrior 3

Ages: at least elementary school age.

What to do:

Keep your legs together and stand tall.
Keep your toes looking forward as you take a big step backward with one leg.
Put your hands together in front of your heart.
Hold your balance on your front leg as you carefully lift your back leg and lower your upper body. Hold your front leg straight.
You should try to go as low as you can so that your raised back leg is straight out from your body. Your body should look like a capital “T.”
Pause for a moment and take a deep breath in.
Do it again on the other side.
Balance and strength are two benefits.

Williams says, “I also like doing this pose with kids as a partner exercise. While the child balances on one leg, a friend or caretaker can hold their hand to help them stay steady.”

Ragdoll

Ages: at least elementary school age.

What to do:

Keep your back straight and your legs apart.
Place your wrists on top of each other and hold your elbows with the hand that is not holding them.
Let your head and upper body fall as far as is possible by letting your waist hinge. Your eyes should be between your legs.
Hold for a few seconds and take deep breaths. Just don’t stay there for too long, because being upside down for a long time can make you feel dizzy or faint.
Benefits: It helps you relax, let go, and stretch.

As with other lying down positions, ragdoll helps the blood flow. Pointing your head down can also help calm your mind and ease stress. Ragdoll is also good for loosening up tight hamstrings and easing back pain.

Partner boat pose

Ages: at least elementary school age.

What to do:

Each pair sits on the floor with their backs to the other.
Slide your feet together so that the soles of your feet touch those of your buddy.
Hold hands with your buddy.
Lift your partner up until they are about chest-high. Press one foot into their foot.
Use the other foot to do the same thing.
Use your partner’s hands to help you stay balanced while you’re on your bottom.
Pause for a moment and take a deep breath in.
Good things about it: trust, connection, confidence, core power, and fun!

Williams says, “Yoga is all about connection—connection between your body, mind, and spirit.” “So partner poses can also help kids connect with each other and learn how to hold space with others and work together.”

Partner seated twist

Ages: at least elementary school age.

What to do:

Both people sit tall and back-to-back.
Cross your legs like you’re making applesauce.
In this move, each person holds their partner’s knee with the same arm (left or right).
Keep your back straight and your chin level with the floor as you look over your shoulder.
Pause for a moment and take a deep breath in.
Do it again on the other side.
Pros: It lets you connect and is flexible.

“Our spines are tense, and most of the things we do every day don’t make us twist our backs. Twisting is a great exercise for both kids and adults,” Williams says.

Back-to-back chair pose

Ages: at least elementary school age.

What to do:

Partners stand tall and back-to-back at the start.
Cross your arms over the elbows of your buddy.
To stay balanced and steady, both partners press their backs against each other.
As if you were sitting on an unseen chair, slowly bend your knees and sink your bottom down.
You can bend your knees as far as they won’t hurt you, but not more than that.
Pause for a moment and take a deep breath in.
Advantages: Strength, Connection, and Confidence.

Williams says, “Chair pose can be hard, so when you can do it, it gives you a huge confidence boost.” “Partner chair pose gets kids to hold each other up, which builds trust and connection. It’s like, ‘We’re in this tough thing together,'” she says.

Yoga breathing and mindfulness exercises for kids

It’s important to remember that yoga is more than just moving your body; it’s also about balancing your mind and body.

Being “in the moment” means focusing on what you’re feeling in the present moment instead of the past or the future. This is what yoga practitioners do by using their breath and encouraging mindfulness.

Williams says, “Most kids aren’t going to sit and meditate for thirty minutes. But having them practise taking just one minute out of their day to pause and focus on their breath can be very helpful.”

“If we can slow down and be aware, we can fully experience the present moment. And when we can do that, we can find our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions and begin to understand them. This can keep a child from acting badly or making hasty decisions because they couldn’t process how they felt at that time.”

Williams talks about some of her favourite ways to teach kids how to breathe and be aware.

Yoga breathing

Using standard yoga breath can help you heal and relax while doing yoga poses (or any time, really).

Do this:

Breathe in through your nose.
Slowly let out air through your mouth so that it lasts longer than the air you breathe in.
Do it several times.

Busy bee breath

Williams says that kids can use “busy bee breath” to get some extra energy when they’re feeling tired or unable to concentrate.

How to do it:

Take a deep breath in through your nose.
When you let your breath out, purse your lips together and hum like you’re saying the letter “M.” Try to let your breath out until your lungs are empty.
Do it several times.

Box breath

As Williams says, “come back to centre.” Box breath or equal-part breath can help you pay attention and calm down.

How to do it:

Take three deep breaths in through your nose.
Count to three before you breathe out.
Take three deep breaths out through your mouth.
Count to three before you breathe out.
Do this over and over again.

Five senses

Things going on around kids can easily take their attention away (it happens to adults too, right?). And when we’re sidetracked, it’s hard to pay attention to how we feel and what we’re thinking. We’re not in the present, we’re way off in the other direction.

The five senses is an easy way for kids to start focusing on the present moment and getting back to reality. You can ask them to use each sense to help them connect with their surroundings and live in the present.

  • Name something that you can see.
  • Please tell me what you hear.
  • Feel the floor, your shirt, or this thing in your hand.
  • Right now, can you taste anything?
  • What does the air smell like?

Williams says, “The five senses technique helps kids (and adults) slow down and pay attention to small things. With practice, it can help them notice those small feelings and movements when they happen. Eventually, they can use this technique to deal with bigger feelings and problems as they come up.”

Affirmations

Williams says that kids should learn easy affirmations to boost their self-esteem and become more self-aware. According to researchers, affirmations can help with health, relationships, and learning.

Help your child come up with a positive statement they can tell themselves when they question themselves. For example:

  • I’m strong.
  • I’m nice.
  • They are not who I am.
  • I can’t be stopped.
  • Relax and start over.

As an ongoing practice, yoga can be very helpful for kids for a long time, especially if they start early. Namaste.

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