Kids yoga is so beneficial, it creates a sense of calm, teaches good posture, opens their bodies and is grounding for them. However, it is a world in and of itself when it comes to teaching it.
Trying to identify ways to keep them captivated and to benefit their little bodies can be tricky.
Ultimately children respond well to routine so while changing up the postures can be fun and interesting for them, you should try to keep the basic outline the same each time you practice with them. Here are some basic tips for yoga for kids.
Pranayama for Kids
For example, moving in each posture for a few moments and then holding for 5 breaths. They will start to know what to expect with each new piece and they will be able to predict when to sit still verses move. For most kids, simply knowing that they get to move again shortly helps them stay still when asked to.
When you are doing breathing exercises with your group choose Pranayama techniques like ‘Buzzing Bee Breath” (with the lips pursed) or “Lions Breath” (tongue out, mouth open) to captivate their attention, and have them do the same amount of inhales each time.
A Quick Yoga Flow for Kids
Here are some of the best poses to get kids started on yoga — all in one flow.
This is “Easy Pose” to us grown ups, but I have to say the kids lingo is much more applicable and appealing! Just like adult classes you want to begin a child’s practice with them centering themselves.
This also supplies them with a cue that tells them; “Hey, we are about to begin an activity so bring your full attention to it please.” Kids are used to being in this seated position so it is easier to have them sit still here then it would be in say Down Dog or Child’s Pose.
Begin their practice in Easy Pose with 5 breaths. Count each inhale out loud so they know where they are and don’t get distracted.
Good old Cat–Cow is a magnificent way to loosen the spine and your kids will love to make animal noises as they do it. The noises encourage them to breath out smoothly for each posture, which teaches them to move with their breath.
After your movement set, hold Cat, and then Cow for a short time with no noises.
Ragdoll to Mountain to Tree.
This is such a great mini flow for kids and imitates a Sun Salutation warm up.
Begin with Ragdoll to stretch out their spines and increase their toe touching ability. Sway side to side to get those inversion benefits for a little longer, remember 30 seconds (5 breaths) upside down calms the nervous system beautifully.
Then have them transition into Mountain Pose to remind them what great posture feels like. This is as if your doing half Sun Salutes.
After 3 reps bring them into Tree for your hold. Tree is a superb balance for kids and just tricky enough that it increases their attention span. Repeat the half Sun Salute to come into Tree Pose on the opposite side.
Down Dog to Crocodile Pose
This is kids' lingo for Plank. Have them practice plank transitions like Down Dog to Plank first. After a few rounds of movement have them hold Crocodile as long as 5 breaths on their forearms — you will be surprised how strong those little tikes are!
Known mostly as Bound Angle. Have them begin by pressing their hands into the earth and lifting their hearts to the sky, fluttering their butterfly wings (their knees) up and down to strengthen and open their hips.
Another deliciously sweet variation is to have them twist to peek over each shoulder before, and after they flutter. Then stretch out the inner legs by holding the pose seated with their heads dangling down for a short period of time to open their necks.
Alternatively, you could finish by coming down to the reclined variation for a longer hold.
Child's Pose to Rabbit
It is always easier to guide children through a transition then it is to have them sit still for 5 breaths. In this moving variation of Child's Pose, they can release some of that energy and move around but they still have to turn inward and not look around themselves too much.
Let them know that their arms are their ears, and they need to lift their little bunny tails to the ceiling to help with their alignment. They get all the benefits of both postures physically and they don’t need to sit still.
Now you can end with Child's Pose or Savasana as you see fit.
As soon as you see them start to fidget, bring them all up together so that they don’t begin interrupting one another. It is important that they all get to keep their serene yoga yumminess.