Yoga Poses for Kids
On Friday I had a super fun time visiting Laurel's classroom as the Mystery Guest, during which time parents can read stories or introduce the kids to their profession or hobbies. Given that most of my work (writing, editing, graphic design) and recreational (e.g., baking, sewing, learning to play mandolin, etc.) endeavors aren't exactly conducive to in-class demos, I decided to teach the kids yoga. I started by telling the kids what I do for work and then explained that because I spend so much time at my computer, it's important to be active too. And that yoga is a great way to calm down while strengthening the body if you're feeling restless or cranky (hint, hint). I thought it would be fun to share the poses I did with the kids, should you and/or your kids need a little calming and strengthening during the day. Enjoy!
Now, first, I should disclose that I'm not a licensed yoga practitioner; however, I've been practicing for several years, currently practice yoga 2-3 times a week, and am one of those people who -- whether it's swim strokes, dance choreography, or running form -- likes to get the mechanics just right. So I felt confident in my ability to demonstrate poses and decided to pick a series of poses that would mix stretching, strength, and balance, and be fun for the kids. I also sought to identify a few poses with animal names (since, you know, kids respond to making animal noises). Since readers might vary in their familiarity with yoga, below I link up to Yoga Journal's helpful pose pictures and descriptions so you can get the full details. Otherwise, I make notes on how I proceeded with the kids.
First I explained some yoga basics to the kids: that practicing yoga is great because it stretches and strengthens your body at the same time, helps us coordinate breath to movement (and how that can help make poses easier and make you more calm), and that you can always take each pose to the most basic form and do what is comfortable for you. I also explained that as with any physical activity, it's important to start and end yoga with warm up and cool down stretches to prevent injury, and that in between we'd do some poses for strength and balance. Then I led them through:
1. Mountain pose -- we took 5 deep breaths here. It was amazing how quiet the room got!
2. On an inhale we then lifted our arms up to the sky then exhaled to chair pose. The kids were hilarious -- they all started groaning about feeling the burn.
3. We stood back up (inhale), then folded in half to standing forward bend (exhale).
4. Then I had them rise a bit into standing half forward bend (inhale) then fold back in half again (exhale).
**We came back up to standing and repeated this stretch sequence 4 more times; I called out the breaths with each position as we went.
6. From a neutral spine position, then we inhaled deeply, then exhaled as we pressed up into downward dog -- the kids loved it, especially since many were familiar with the pose.
7 (sequence). Now for a lot of wobbling and giggling. From downward dog, I had them bring one foot between their hands into a lunge, then led them through Warrior I, Warrior II, reverse warrior (turning the front palm up and leaning back so the front arm points up to the sky), then side angle. Lots of happy groaning here -- the kids loved the side stretching!
I then brought them into a wide-legged forward bend and explained that whatever you do to one side of the body you must do to the other. So from the wide legged bend we switched sides and went through the warrior sequence again. I had them take a couple of breaths in each pose.
8. I next taught them tree pose -- many of the kids were familiar with this pose and really loved it. We spent several breaths here -- first with the palms pressed together in front of the heart while gaining balance, and then, if they wanted, while pressing their arms to the sky to extend the branches. We then repeated tree pose on the opposite leg.
At this point, I could have ended and gone into final stretches, but we had a little extra time and of course when I asked the kids if they were up for a couple of challenging poses they all said, "YES!!!!!!!!!!" So I taught them:
9. Warrior III -- using airplane or Superman terminology stuck with them here.
10. And from Warrior III, dancer's pose. We repeated these two balance positions on the opposite side.
11. And then we did triangle pose on each side.
12. And finally, camel pose. Commence lots of camel noises of questionable accuracy.
For cool down/restorative stretching, I took them through:
13. Child's pose -- 5 breaths here.
14. Seated forward bend -- 5 breaths here.
15. Easy pose -- 5 breaths here.
It was awesome! It was so fun to encourage movement and the kids had a great time. I heard later from some parent friends that kids were showing off their new moves at home. I hope you enjoy these poses on your own or with your kids!
Image credit: Lotuspad yoga mats