Yoga is not for grown ups only.
Do you think yoga and kids don’t mix?
After all, yoga is designed to bring a sense of calm into our lives — which is what we (grown ups) are looking for. Kids, on the other hand, are not big fans of mindfulness.
So it’s normal to think that yoga is not an activity for kids.
But scientific research suggests otherwise. According to many studies, yoga is beneficial for both the mental and physical state of children.
By introducing your child to yoga at an early age, you can help them adapt healthy lifestyle habits to set the foundation for a healthy future.
The Many Benefits of Yoga for Kids
Over 3% of parents in the United States are already having their kids do yoga for its many benefits.
A couple of minutes of daily yoga can significantly improve your child’s behavior skills, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills.
Gross Motor Benefits
Yoga allows your kid to build his strength and endurance while calming his mind. As your kid bends, breathes, and tries different positions, he will improve his strength, balance, and flexibility.
Another benefit of yoga as a recreational activity is that if your child finds a pose too hard, he can start with the easiest version — each yoga pose has an easy, intermediate, and difficult level.
Once your child becomes more comfortable with the “easy” version of a pose and gains the confidence to level up, he can move on to the “medium” level and then to the “difficult”.
However, even if your child stays with the “easy” version of each pose forever, he will still reap the benefits by:
- Building strength
- Building muscle tone
- Improving coordination
Fine Motor Benefits
Besides improving gross motor skills, yoga also helps build hand strength, flexibility, and eye-hand coordination.
Yoga poses that require children to balance their body weight on their hands are the most effective at speeding up fine motor development.
Such poses strengthen the muscles of arms, forearms, and hands, along with building “intrinsic muscles” — tiny muscles in our palms that we need for tasks requiring a high degree of hand control, such as writing, untying a knot, or lacing a shoe.
According to numerous studies on the benefits of yoga on children with behavioral issues, a few minutes of daily yoga leads to a significant reduction in behavioral problems.
Practicing mindfulness through yoga also relieves stress, improves self regulation and self-awareness in children.
Yoga Poses for Kids
Here are 5 fun and easy yoga poses for kids.
1. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
It doesn’t get any easier or simpler than the Sukhasana pose.
How To Do It
- Sit straight with legs crossed.
- With the palms facing up, rest your hands on your knees.
- Relax your feet and thighs.
- Keep your head, neck, and spine aligned throughout the exercise.
- Elongate your spine, but don’t stiffen your neck while doing it.
- Stay in this posture for one minute.
- Change the cross-legged position and repeat.
Targets: Back, thighs, hips, knees, and feet.
Caution: Is your kid having trouble sitting on a flat surface? Then give him a folded blanket or a firm pillow to comfortably sit on as he performs this pose.
2. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Bhujangasana is an easy yoga pose for children to practice in the morning to relieve stress and build abs.
How To Do It
- Lie face down with your palms also facing downwards.
- Pull your shoulders slightly back towards your spine.
- Keep your abdomen tight all along.
- Lift your body into a cobra pose while keeping your chin up.
- Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Gently release your body to the floor.
Targets: Spine, chest, shoulders, and abdomen.
Caution: Tell your kid to arch his back as much as he comfortably can.
3. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
A gentle pose to strengthen your back and core.
How To Do It
- Get into a tabletop position.
- Curl your toes and make sure your knees are directly below your hips.
- Your elbows, shoulders, and wrists should be perpendicular to the floor.
- Look down and make sure your head is in a neutral position.
- Exhale slowly before arching your spine up towards the ceiling.
- Release your head towards the floor, but don’t force your chin towards your chest.
- Return to the tabletop position while inhaling slowly.
Targets: Abdomen, spine, neck, and torso.
Caution: If your kid has trouble arching his spine up towards the ceiling, assist him by placing a hand above and between his shoulder blades.
4. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
It’s a little more complicated than a traditional bow but easy enough so anyone can do it.
How To Do It
- Lie flat on your stomach.
- Rest your head on a mat gently.
- Stretch your arms towards the sides of your body.
- Inhale slowly before bending your knees and bringing your feet towards your hips.
- Hold your ankles using both hands.
- Lift your legs, hips, torso, and shoulders off the floor while gazing straight ahead.
- Hold this position for four to five breaths
- Lower your knees and release your feet.
- Rest on your stomach and repeat after a small break, ideally 15 seconds.
Targets: Back, shoulders, chest, legs, and hips.
Caution: If your child feels discomfort in his lower back while doing this pose, lower the posture. Also, help your child during steps 5 and 6 if he can’t do it on his own.
5. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This pose is even easier than the Sukhasana, but it requires a great deal of patience — so it may be more of a challenge for your kid than you expect.
How To Do It
- Lie on your back.
- Keep your legs straight and place your arms at your sides and make sure they’re at least six inches away from your body.
- Your palms should be facing upwards.
- Close your eyes.
- Inhale normally while resting your body’s weight on the ground.
- Exhale slowly while relaxing and de-stressing all of your body parts.
Targets: It does not target any physical parts of the body. But it’s the best yoga exercise for reducing stress, fatigue, anxiety, and even insomnia.