Yoga for Children: Tips and Resources
I fell in love with yoga in middle school and while there have been seasons of my life when I fell out of practice for a bit (Hello new job! Hello new baby!), the love has remained strong for decades. I always return to yoga. I love the calmness that envelopes you after a great session. I love how in tune you feel with your body when you practice regularly.
Certainly, yoga these days is less zen than it once was. It’s rare that I make it to a yoga studio, so I’m often trying to find my zen space here at home. With three kids and a dog, that zen place can be challenging to find but I try anyway!
Many mothers opt to work out away from their children and while I admit there are many times that I wish I could work out without children, I am proud of the fact that I have worked out in front of my children since they were born. I think it is important for children to be exposed to fitness and healthy choices, and to know that exercise makes you strong, healthy, and happy. Monkey see, monkey do!
Working out in front of my children has made them want to work out, too. Now, at 7, almost 6, and 4-years of age, they are three little yogis! They love when I pop in a DVD so that they can find their own zen spaces. And I love that they are enjoying fitness and learning important and lifelong skills.
Benefits of yoga for children:
- Increased strength and flexibility.
- Yoga makes you happy.
- Learn to calm oneself and be still.
- Learn healthy responses to stress and frustration.
- Improved body awareness.
- Increased mindfulness.
Benefits for moms when children learn yoga:
- Calmer, happier kids.
- Kids who are better able to calm themselves.
- QUIET TIME (Priceless!!)
Today, I am sharing some of our family’s favorite yoga resources from over the years. These resources are tried and true, folks. While a couple of them are new to us this year, most have been around for years and all are well-loved. Let me know what you think!
Back in the days when Leo was terrified of TV (yes, you read that correctly!), I could pop in a yoga DVD and calm him. It was the only thing that he’d watch on TV for a long time, and it helped to calm his little body. Thank goodness for yoga!
Kids World Yoga (recommended for ages 6-14)
Kids World Yoga includes three different classes: beginner, intermediate, and advanced, so this DVD can grow with your children as they progress in their practice. The classes are led by children in Sedona, Arizona, so the beautiful scenery is calming, too. With over 100 poses included, this DVD is packed with opportunities for learning and growth. Breathing and relaxation exercises are also included.
Omolulu: Yoga for Children (recomended for ages 5-10)
Don’t you just love the name of this series? Omolulu, Omolulu, Omolulu! It could be a mantra! What I love about Omolulu is that it was made by children for children. The sequences are sort, at approximately 15 minutes each, and so they are perfect for beginners. Sequences can be performed back-to-back for more experienced children. The yoga sessions are divided into four main focuses: Earth (focus and concentration), Fire (coordination and strength), Water (calm and center), and Space (breathing and communication), so you can easily choose sessions to meet your child’s needs. Breathing exercises are also included.
Storyland Yoga: Yoga for Kids and Families by Playful Planet (recommended for ages 3-8)
Storyland Yoga is new to our family and we love it. Storyland Yoga is more than a DVD, it is actually curriculum. Do you have children who are interested in nature, animals, and saving the planet? This is the yoga DVD for you. Storyland Yoga uses story books (Save the Whale and Condor Trek) to spark your child’s imagination and to make yoga poses easier to understand. At the same time, this resource comes with an important eco-friendly message: to take care of our planet and work to save endangered species.
Shanti Generation: Yogi Skills for Youth Peacemakers (recommended for ages 7-16)
Did you know Shanti means peace? You should see my children, on their mats, and the end of any one of these 5 practice sessions- peace is a perfect description! My children love this collection of yoga sessions. The music is lovely and in addition to five choices for sessions, you can also elect to do mini-sessions, breathing exercises, or relaxation exercises.
Yoga Kids 2: More Poses, More Fun! (recommended for ages 3-6)
This was our very first yoga DVD. I cannot comment on Yoga Kids 1, as we don’t own it. I’m not sure why we ended up with the second volume and not the first, but it is what it is. This is the DVD that first got my children interested in yoga. The sessions on this DVD are short, at 15 minutes each, and perfect for small children.
This year, we are using a mindfulness curriculum called MindUp. I selected this curriculum because I’ve heard rave reviews both through word of mouth and through my online research. We just started a few weeks ago but we are thoroughly enjoying it. I like that the curriculum is well-organized and easy to follow, and I’m finding that it is easy to add to our routine. I do little chunks throughout the day, typically around meal times. I’ve also enjoyed the book 10 Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children — and Ourselves- the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happier Lives.
Another mindfulness resource that we have recently fallen in love with is called Headspace, created by Andy Puddicombe. I hesitate to put this in writing for fear of a jinx, but since downloading the app to my phone at least one of my children have fallen asleep during the meditation. And it’s only 10 minutes! And I have had friends try it with similar success stories. I’m now deep into Andy Puddicombe’s book, Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day.
There are some fantastic books on the market right now that help children manage stress and anxiety, improve mindfulness, and assist with learning yoga. Here are just two of our family’s many favorites:
Goodnight Yoga: A Pose by Pose Bedtime Story by Mariam Gates
Calm those kiddos down at bedtime with this sweet book. Using whimsical illustrations, this book will keep your child’s interest while teaching yoga poses and breathing exercises. This book has been a wonderful addition to our night-time routine. It never fails to bring a little zen, if only for a minute!
My kids love this book. They love to imitate the poses of the various animals in the story. Linking poses to animals helps children to visualize and better understand each movement. This would be a fantastic way to introduce yoga to young children.
If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, you already know that we love a good board game! Here are two of our family’s favorite yoga games:
We are huge ThinkFun fans over here and Yoga Spinner Game does not disappoint. This would be the perfect introduction to yoga and would also be great before bed or in the classroom as a way to instill mindfulness and calm. I love that this game also works on coordination and following directions- two skills that are important for my son who struggles with SPD and crossing the midline.
In this game, players work cooperatively to plant a garden before the sun sets, and they are learning yoga poses and mindfulness the entire time! One really fun aspect of this game is that, on certain plays, your children have the opportunity to create and name their very own yoga pose. This part is entertaining for all!
Yoga Pretzels is a beautifully illustrated deck of cards with each card depicting a yoga pose. Children will find these poses easy to follow and fun, and you’ll be surprised at the games that your children create using these cards. They won’t even know that they are learning mindfulness!
Once your children have been practicing yoga for a while, the only thing that they will need to practice is a yoga mat and some floor space. My children will often pull out their mats and squeeze in a little yoga without need for DVDs now.
I’m going to be honest here… I held off on getting mats for my children for a while. I wanted to be sure that they were truly interested and I felt like the mat would be just another thing to put away around here. I finally ended up getting mats this spring and in all honesty I wish I had purchased them sooner. Why? Personal space! The yoga mats provide a concrete visual, showing you where you are supposed to be. This has significantly decreased the bickering amongst my crew!