Yoga can be both fun and challenging to practice with your kids. The same benefits that you experience from your practice can also be applied to younger minds. It allows for you to share an interest, connect with your child, and it sets a good example of exercise and well-being for your child to engage with. If nothing else, it can help pass the time on a rainy day and can calm a hyperactive child.
Children are inherently more flexible than adults so there are a lot of poses to choose from. Some commonly known poses such as, Downward Dog, Cobra, Happy Baby, and Cat and Cow are a great place to start. However, if some other positions seem tricky for them, try changing the names to something more fun, like an animal or something from nature. Unicorn Pose allows your children to bring their hand to their forehead from Table Pose to create the idea of a horn. Easy Pose can be called Butterfly, while Standing Pose with Backward Bend can be called Waterfall as the child imagines water is pouring from their outstretched hands.
As their ability increases, move on to more challenging poses such as: Plank, Eagle, Three-legged Dog, Warrior II, and even Wheel.
Props can be added to make it more fun for your kids, such as a light piece of colorful fabric that they can hold onto while they do waterfall pose. The falling fabric can represent the water and later it can be used to cover them like a blanket as their body temperature cools when lying down in Savasana. Kids also love smelling things, like soaps or flowers; include some nice smelling sensory bottles (oils) for them to have around while practicing.
Once you have the basics down, children can then be taught the calmness of meditation, and can learn to channel their frustrations through meditating. Meditation provides many benefits for them, like better digestion, a stronger immune system, increased happiness, lower stress levels, and something many parents want, the children are able to focus better.
When introducing meditation to your children, keep it short, no longer than 15 minutes. Make it fun for your children, give them something to visualize, like floating on a fluffy white cloud, while you let them sit on a soft pillow. You can also give them a nice painting to look at, then have close their eyes and try and remember all of the details. Finally, let them see you meditate and explain how it helps you, if they see their parent do it they will be more likely to also give it a try.
There are many apps out there that you can upload to a device that are created specifically for children, including that of yoga poses and mediation. If this is something you and your children are thinking about, it is worth checking out.
Dali Lama believes “that if every child in the world would be taught mediation we would eliminate violence from the world in one generation.” It’s a nice thought to think about, even if it only allows for you and your children to connect in a special way.