The trees are green, the temps are rising, and… there are a lot more kids running around during the day. All signs point to the arrival of summer!
For those of you who have mom or dad, aunt or uncle, or nanny attached to your job title, you’re probably already preparing the long list of activities to keep your kiddos occupied this summer. Maybe you’ve thought about introducing them to yoga, but are wondering where to start.
Now that you have some extra time with your littlest loved ones, you may be able to invest into teaching them about the beauty and power of yoga. Yoga is a great way to bond as a family, even if you can only spare a few minutes. Experiment with a few poses in the morning or outside after dinner to see what works best for the kids in your life.
Research has shown that yoga can improve children’s mental and physical health, increase their focus and concentration, and strengthen their fine and gross motor skills. If you’re considering introducing your little ones to yoga, there’s no better time than the summer, as it can be done indoors on hot days, in the backyard after dinner, or even on the beach during family vacation!
Don’t Forget These Simple Tips
Don’t expect your small students to be ready or willing to commit to an hour of vinyasa flow. Yoga for children should be playful and structured more like a game than a serious practice. So rather than asking them to follow along as you move through a carefully-constructed sequence, spend ten minutes calling out animal-themed poses.
Let them mimic their surroundings. If they’re outside, ask them to try tree pose. Before asking them to set the table, encourage them to try table pose. This will not only help them create name recognition, but also bring a lightness and joy to yoga.
Encourage them to make noise. When they’re in cat pose, they can meow like cats. Or when they’re in downward dog, tell them to bark a little. For young kids, especially, it’s best to keep this light and fun, so they start to enjoy the practice rather than burning out.
Go Beyond the Poses
Build a Community: This one’s great for nannies or childcare providers, but can also be incorporated with neighborhood children or your kid’s school buddies. Part of what we adults love about yoga is the intentional community we build at our studios. Help your children to discover this joy by planning a yoga party in your backyard or by practicing family yoga in the park.
Service: In yoga, service is not just a spiritual obligation or the righteous thing to do, as it’s promoted in many churches and synagogues. It is also a path to self-realization. Teach your children to think beyond themselves by delivering food to someone who needs help or by offering to do some simple yard work for a neighbor.
Meditation and Mindfulness: Arguably the hardest component of yoga to teach children (and adults, let’s be real) is meditation and mindfulness. Choose a breathing technique and practice it together. Maybe it’s ujjayi or maybe it’s lion’s breath. Encourage your kids to use it when they feel any strong emotions or before bedtime. Make sure they see you practicing what you preach too!