- acting out
- trouble sleeping
- becoming withdrawn
- physical symptoms like stomachaches and headaches
- aggressive behaviors, especially toward other children
It’s well-known that yoga can help adults chill out, and there’s no reason why little yogis can’t reap the same wonderful benefits.
“Yoga helps children slow down and focus,” says Karey Tom from Charlotte Kid’s Yoga. A California State University study found that yoga not only improved classroom performance, but it also helped improve the children’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
In fact, Karey says that more and more schools recognize the power of yoga, adding it to their curriculum as a healthy form of physical exercise and a positive coping mechanism for stress.
“Something as simple as slowing down and taking deep breaths may help a child to be less anxious and more successful while taking a test,” she says.
It’s never too early — or too late — to introduce yoga to your child.
“Children are born knowing how to do poses that we call yoga,” points out Karey. There’s a pose called Happy Baby for a reason!
To focus your child’s natural inclination toward play into a regular practice, you can seek out a kid-friendly studio or download a yoga class online. You can also begin by teaching your child these seven calming poses.
Once your child knows the poses, practice regularly to ward off stress, although yoga can help a child calm down after experiencing a tantrum, too. Remember to keep it light and silly. Start off small — a pose or two may be all your child has the attention span for at first. With time and age, their practice will deepen.
“Slow down and be present! Connect with your child and let your child teach you,” Karey reminds us.
1. The Warrior Series
This series, which is done in a lunge position with your arms stretched, builds strength and stamina. It’s an invigorating pose that releases negativity through methodic breathing.
Warrior I and II are great for beginners. Make this series fun. You can shout out warrior yells and banish play swords and breastplates.
The Cat-Cow stretch is said to create emotional balance while releasing your back muscles and massaging digestive organs. When you teach your child these simple poses, play up the animal theme. Moo as you drop your spine and meow as you arch your back.
3. Downward-Facing Dog
This pose provides a great stretch while releasing tension in your neck and back. Again — play up the animal theme with barks and a wagging “tail,” which helps further stretch the leg muscles.
4. Tree Pose
This balancing pose develops mind-body awareness, improves posture, and relaxes the mind.
A child may find it challenging to balance on one foot, so encourage him to place his foot wherever is comfortable. It can be propped on the ground, near the opposite ankle, or below or above the opposite knee.
Extending arms overhead also helps maintain the pose.
5. Happy Baby
Children gravitate toward this fun, silly pose, which opens the hips, realigns the spine, and calms the mind. Encourage your child to rock back and forth in this pose, as the action provides a gentle back massage.
6. Sleeping Pose
We call the Corpse Pose “Sleeping Pose” when working with kids.
This pose typically closes out a yoga practice and encourages deep breathing and meditation. You can lay a warm, damp washcloth over your child’s eyes, play relaxing music, or give a quick foot massage while they rest in Savasana.