Yoga doesn’t have to be an adult-only zone. Children have shown that they can benefit from a yoga practice too. It can help with their fitness, relax them and even enhance their focus in the classroom. The idea of family yoga is exciting to parents that want to teach poses to their children, but where do we start? How do we make yoga child-friendly and enjoy a family session?
7 Family Friendly Yoga Ideas
1. Communicate with your child and teach them some easy poses that you can do together.
If you want to start with family yoga sessions, you need to start slow. The concepts may be a little strange to kids at first, so take it one step at a time. If they lose track of their breathing or a routine, it doesn’t matter. Keep talking to them as they change position so they can express how it feel, what they like and dislike. Be prepared for the fact that many kids will get frustrated the first time. Talk to them about why they are struggling and encourage them to try again. Their flexibility and enthusiasm could take them into poses they didn’t know were possible. Yet, start simple with some cross-legged positions, downward dog, and cobra pose.
Be prepared for the fact that many kids will get frustrated the first time. Talk to them about why they are struggling and encourage them to try again. Their flexibility and enthusiasm could take them into poses they didn’t know were possible. Yet, start simple with some cross-legged positions, downward dog, and cobra pose. The Kids Yoga Challenge Pose Cards provide great pose visuals for adults and kids.
2. Don’t be afraid to break the rules a little if it means having fun.
The appeal of these family yoga ideas will depend upon your attitude to the practice. Are you someone that takes it very seriously, from the precision in the poses to the breathing? Or are you more casual about it all?
Breathing and safety in the poses are important, but kids need a little leeway here. Let them adapt to a comfortable position. Don’t get frustrated at them for them not breathing properly or doing the poses correctly. Instead, model the breathwork and poses. The important thing is that you are engaged, communicating and enjoying the experience together. Go Go Yoga for Kids – A Complete Guide To Yoga With Kids is a great resource for making yoga fun yet educational for kids.
3. Make some noise
Many of us are drawn to yoga because of the meditative side of the exercise. Not only are we aiding our bodies and building strength, tone and flexibility, but we are also imporoving our mental health. This is where deep breathing and quiet environments are so helpful for our state of mind.
Naturally, kids don’t want to be quiet all the time while having fun with yoga, and they shouldn’t have to be. These noises can be an expression of their feelings, either joy or frustration. Allow them to let it all out and join them, make it a joint expression. If they want to bark like a dog every time they go into a downward dog then that’s fine. Besides, if laughing yoga can become in the hit in some communities, some giggling and animals noises are fine.
4. Find the balance between technique and enjoyment
Family yoga can be tricky for parents to get into because it requires a different mindset. It is important to try and find a middle ground between a fun, silly activity and the deeper purpose of the practice. Talking, laughing and other expressions are great, but try and teach them the basics of the purpose of the poses and breathing. Explain to them that they will need to take a certain amount of deep breaths through the nose for each pose. Before long you will get into a rhythm with the routine and breathing and they start to relax a little.
5. Try some partner poses
There are some parents that take family yoga ideas to another level with some partner poses. When your child has the confidence in their abilities, and the basics of poses and breathing, these joint poses increase the difficulty level. It is fun to work side by side, but it can, even more, fun to try and balance in poses together.
The Kids Yoga Challenge Pose Cards includes several partner poses that work together for adult and children. Obviously, you should only try this out in a safe environment and work on these poses gradually. But, there is a lot of fun in trying and even more satisfaction when successful. These poses are great for those working on their bond as they require a close physical and spiritual connection.
6. Those that lack the confidence to teach can join a local class.
There is something wonderful about this one-on-one time with your child. It can strengthen a bond and help you to communicate ideas on wellness and happiness. Still, there are those of us that will struggle to find the confidence to guide children through these poses, or the perseverance to encourage them when the poses get a little difficult. This is where is helps to join a local class. A trained teacher can work with you both on a family-friendly level. They can help you to learn new poses and ideas that can then be tried out at home. Also, this is a chance to meet other parents and children in the same situation.
7. Look out for classes with group activities where the whole family can get involved
Find a class through your community, parks and recreation, or local gym that focuses on that parent-child relationship or work on child-friendly instruction. There are those that take the activities further and bring yoga poses in group games. This is a social event where everyone can join in and you are not restricted to 2 person activities. Therefore, if you want to bring a second child, a partner or perhaps a grandparent, everyone can have fun. Again, these games and techniques can be brought back to the family home for playtime on family gatherings.
Family yoga comes in different forms, from those simple routines to the partner poses and classes for the whole family. Anyone can bring their child into the world of yoga with the right attitude and techniques. Start slow and find a way to teach them the basics that are fun and inclusive. Then you can look into new games, classes, and ideas as you progress.
Guest Post written by Hieu Pham
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What kind of parent do you want to be? Author Meryl Davids Landau is the kind of parent any child would be fortunate to have. Her knowledge of parenting and demonstrating unconditional love is evident throughout her latest book, Enlightened Parenting . This book isn’t your normal “how to make your child mind” type resource. Instead, it is filled with knowledge and insight on how to parent from your heart and soul while keeping the connection to yourself in the face of everyday parenting. The book is divided into three sections; Attitudes, Actions, and Nourish Yourself. Each section provides real life examples and anecdotes to support the journey of parenting. Parenting is not an easy journey but this guide will help both new and seasoned parents to know that they are not alone.
About the Author
Meryl Davids Landau is the author of ‘Enlightened Parenting: A Mom Reflects on Living Spiritually With Kids.’ She also wrote the spiritual women’s novel ‘Downward Dog, Upward Fog,’ named a fiction book of the year finalist by Foreword Reviews. An award-winning magazine writer, her works have also appeared in numerous publications, including Parents, O: The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Self, Redbook, Reader’s Digest, Prevention, Huffington Post and more.
Both of Meryl’s books reflect her interest in bringing a spiritual (not religious) perspective into our everyday lives. Books about jetting off to India or Bali or an intensive yoga retreat are fun, but keeping your connection to your highest self in the face of everyday parenting, work, love and life challenges is where the real practice begins. Her intention is to bring light–and levity–to these situations through her words.
Meryl is a certified yoga teacher and Reiki practitioner, and is the mom to two kids, now young adults.
Read more about Meryl at her website MerylDavidsLandau.com
I haven’t met the author of this article from Huffington Post about teaching yoga to kids, but I would love to meet her and give her a copy of Go Go Yoga Kids: A Complete Guide to Yoga with Kids.
Olga sounds like a great mom. She remembers doing yoga as a young adult and how it did wonders for her self-esteem. Now as a mom, she is looking for a way to connect with her kids and get in shape.
After a few tries, she realized that yoga with kids is different than with adults. The benefits are equally substantial, but she realized how teaching yoga to kids is busy, active and so much fun!
Here is Olga’s story…
…I decided to let go of my expectations. And this is where we start having fun.
We even make up our own yoga poses and sequences: The Head-Bump Pose (stand opposite of each other and then try to bend down and bump your heads in the process), followed by Rolling on the Floor Laughing. We lie on the floor, all three of us together (and sometimes there is a baby lying on my belly), and we hold hands and laugh some more. There are plenty of Cuddle Poses, I’m sure. I stop caring whether the yoga pose is perfect or whether it lasts as long as it should.
Instead, I focus on the fun stuff.
Like roaring like a lion, and making “ssss”-sounds like a snake, and stretching our necks like a giraffe. Now this is something the children can actually relate to, and they want to join me!
We’re finally having fun and connecting.
I love that! That is what it is all about! Having fun, being healthy and connecting with your kids. All at the same time! Read more of Olga’s story here.
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Adults aren’t the only ones who are stressed. Yoga can also be used to help anxious kids and achieve many healthy benefits in the process . Learn simple poses and ideas to introduce and practice yoga at home with your kids.
Yoga for kids is becoming increasingly popular. It is showing up in school classrooms, daycares, sports, in addition to yoga studios and other health clubs. The physical benefits of yoga are lifelong and include flexibility, strength, and coordination. Yoga is also recognized as a relaxation technique and used to help combat anxiety in kids as well as adults.
Here is what Today’s Parent had to say on helping to calm little minds while practicing yoga.
Why should children practice kids yoga? There are so many reasons to introduce kids to yoga and the benefits keep rolling in! Be sure to check out our previous Fab Four Benefits of Yoga for Kids. Here are even more that you don’t want to miss.
1. Yoga Boosts Confidence
Yoga makes you feel good which increases confidence. I see this all the time in my kid yoga classes when a child is able to master a pose they have been working on or see their flexibility and balance improve, it is amazing what it does to their confidence. You can literally see them step out of the kids yoga class, standing up straighter and more self-assured. They are also more calm, poised, and self-assured in their abilities for not only in the next class but throughout their daily activities. The more you practice yoga, the better you feel.
2. Promotes Health and Stress Management
Yoga is a physical activity that releases happy endorphins. When you leave a yoga class you feel good inside and out, and you want to maintain that feeling. Yoga also improves your digestive system with the twisting, moving, inverting, and holding poses. Breathing exercises also help calm kids which gives them the tools to use when they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. Instead of kids logging more hours in front of a screen yoga promotes health and positive activity.
3. Builds Positive Peer and Social Interactions
Everyone is unique and special in their own way, and we all come from different places and backgrounds. No yoga pose looks the same from person to person, child or adult. With yoga, we celebrate and respect the differences as we try new postures and poses. Kids enjoy working with each other in partner and group poses and achieving success together. Yoga is also about encouraging one another and promoting acceptance, trust, kindness and empathy.
4. Sparks Creativity and Expression
Yoga Kids classes are fun and engaging as we move in and out of games, stories, and songs while learning new poses and practicing as a group. Often yoga kids classes are centered on a theme to help them learn about new places and concepts. Yoga also helps kids be free, creative, and express themselves. Not only is this fun, but yoga also encourages kids to use their imaginations to try new things in a safe environment and to not take themselves too seriously.