Are you a mom or dad looking to introduce your child to yoga but don’t know where to start? If you’re feeling a little intimidated about teaching your child yoga at home, fear not! Even if you’ve never practiced yoga before, there are so many wonderful resources available that parents can use at home and learn along with their kids.
Keep It Simple
A good way to start learning yoga together with your child is to keep it simple and begin by practicing some basic yoga poses. You can find books, flash cards, videos and even posters. My son and daughter both had their first experience with yoga through videos from Cosmic Kids Yoga. You can find some great introduction to yoga videos on the Cosmic Kids Yoga YouTube channel. They are fun and easy to follow along.
Another good option is a printable poster, like this one from Kids Yoga Stories featuring 58 yoga poses for kids. Hang it up on your wall for an easily accessible visual.
Once you and your child have learned some yoga basics take the time to explore some other resources to expand your yoga practice.
Books & Flash Cards
Nowadays there are many yoga books you can find online or in store. My most recent purchase for my kids was Babar’s Yoga for Elephants by Laurent de Brunhoff. Not only is this a cute and informative storybook, but it also includes some step-by-step guides for various yoga poses and flows (pictures included!) I really liked that it was written in such a way that is easy for children to understand and follow along.
If you’d like to get some yoga books and flash cards a good one-stop shop would be Kids Yoga Stories. Founder Giselle Shardlow is also the author of the many books available for sale on this website, with books in five different languages! These stories are brightly illustrated, covering different themes and yoga poses. To add some fun to your family yoga practice, check out the yoga cards also found on Kids Yoga Stories. You can find ones that are holiday-themed, animal-themed and even weather-themed. And if you don’t want to simply use them as flash cards, give this game a try!
Instructional videos is another fun way to get your children involved with yoga. Cosmic Kids Yoga offers many videos that will keep child engaged and following along with the host, Jaime Amor. You can find videos with themes from favourite movies, such as Star Wars, Trolls or Frozen, beloved children’s books, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and other adventures. A great thing about these videos is that they are mostly less than 20 minutes, which is a perfect duration for younger kids.
When I go on my own to a yoga class the instructor often plays soft, soothing music in the background. This certainly sets a relaxing tone for the class. Including music into a yoga practice is a good way to keep the flow going when doing the poses. I’ve always believed that music can play a big role in a child’s learning experience, including teaching them yoga.
When I came across the work of children’s musician and kids’ yoga expert, Kira Willey, I immediately loved how she combined storytelling, yoga poses, and music into one. Her voice is so playful and captivating, making it easy to be drawn into her songs and follow along. Check out Kira Willey’s website to find her three albums of yoga songs for kids — Dance for the Sun, Kings and Queens of the Forest, and How to be a Cloud, (along with her album Mindful Moments for Kids and her most recent release, Every Voice).
Here is a guide of some yoga sequences you could do at home with your family. I’ve outlined two sequences below that can be really fun to do!
Channel Your Inner Animal!
These are some great seated and mat poses that you can get creative with. Bonus points for adding animal sounds!
- Turtle pose: Sit down and bring the bottoms of your feet together; put your hands under your legs with palms down.
- Cat pose: Come down onto your hands and knees; round out your spine like a cat that is stretching.
- Rabbit pose: Kneel down and interlace your hands behind you; lean forward and rest your forehead on the mat; lift your arms away from your back to form rabbit ears.
- Down dog pose: Come down onto your hands and knees; spread fingers apart and curl toes under; lift your hips up and back, so that your legs straighten up (imagine you’re pushing the mat away with your hands so your spine grows long).
Test Your Balance!
These poses will put your balance to the test! Don’t worry if you can’t hold the pose. Come out of it and try again.
- Mountain pose: Stand on our mat with your feet hip-width apart; spread your toes wide to help balance; sway side-to-side until you feel like you are nice and steady; stand tall with your arms straight by your side.
- Chair pose: From mountain pose, bend your knees and send your hips back as if trying to sit on an imaginary chair behind you; bring your arms straight up above your head.
- Warrior I pose: From mountain pose, take a big step back with your right leg and keep it straight; bend your left leg in front of you; keep your hips facing forward; raise your arms straight above your head.
- Tree pose: Stand on your mat; spread the toes of your right foot wide to help balance (if you feel more steady on your left side, do this with your left foot); slowly, bend your left leg and rest the bottom of your foot on the calf or thigh of your right leg; pick a spot to stare at to help you balance; place the palms of your hands together in front of your chest at heart level, or stretch your arms above your head, imagining that they are your tree branches.
Some Final Tips
The most important thing to keep in mind when doing yoga with your children is to keep it light and fun. Be sure to pick a space that is calm, quiet and free of distractions, especially if you want to try some relaxing poses before bedtime. Also, make sure to be comfortably dressed. And remember, be kind to yourself if you struggle to do a pose or keep your balance. Laugh it off and try again. Yoga takes practice, but it never has to be perfect.
Jennifer Traynor is a mother of two kids living in the suburbs east of Toronto, Ontario, and recently certified to teach kids yoga. When she’s not working or spending time with her kids you can find her sitting in lotus pose on her yoga mat, sitting snuggled on the couch with her husband catching up on favourite TV shows, or sitting with her laptop writing and editing her blog Mama@Heart. You can also like and follow her on , , and .