Back to school has come and gone, and hopefully those daily routines that form success have been established – making lunches the night before, laying out the next days clothes, but what about some before bed yoga?
Why Kids Yoga?
While the activities below have many benefits for the parent (mindfulness, breathing awareness, strength and flexibility), it’s important to remember that kids yoga has a slightly different focus, but should have equally (or more) fun!
Keep these four areas in mind when leading a family practice.
- Mindfulness: Consider sitting or lying comfortably together and making thoughtful connections to personal and interpersonal skills such as being a friend, communication skills, coping and management skills, as well as character development.
- Breathing awareness: Being aware of their breathing and using breath can help children to relax, such as before a quiz, sporting game, or performance. Energizing breaths can also be used to help children wake up and be alert.
- The development of physical literacy: This includes helping our children to learn to move with competence, confidence and creativity in a variety of setting. Children who are physically literate have an awareness of the fundamental movement skills (those explored in yoga include balance and stability).
- Most importantly the focus should be on fun! Family yoga should provide opportunities, to laugh, celebrate, and be connected as a family. Hold hands, touch feet, and giggle lots!
It’s important to model and share our love of movement, as we know through research on physical literacy, that active children grow to be active adults. So let’s move together!
Story Telling Fun
Story telling is one of my favourite ways to support kiddies doing yoga. Whether it’s acting out a favourite book while you read along or making up stories as they go, there are many connections that can be made to promote (language) literacy and physical literacy. Try some of these ideas with your kids!
Elephant Trunk Breathing.
Traditionally promotes increased energy. Stand with feet hips width apart. Inhale through your nose reaching your arms (trunk) above your head, on the exhale, release the air through your month as you stretch your trunk down towards your feet.
Parent prompts: As you inhale, how high can you reach your trunk? How close to the floor can you stretch your trunk as you breathe out?
From Mountain Pose, stand on one foot (rooting it into the ground) and place the other foot near the ankle, below the knee on the calf, or above the knee on the thigh (avoid placing the foot on the knee) and keep your hands on your waist in palm to palm in front of the chest. Once stable, stretch both arms (branches) up to the sky, maybe even together above your head.
Parent prompts: What kind of tree are you? What happens to your tree when it gets windy? Can you move in the wind?
Downward Facing Dog.
From table top position (on hands and knees), curl your toes under and lift your hips up and back. Stretch your arms and legs long as you try to reach your heels towards the floor.
Parent prompts: What kind of dog are you? What’s your dog’s name? What healthy snacks does your dog like to eat? Can your dog stretch high on his/her toes? What does your bark sound like?
Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet close to your pelvis. Open your knees (opening the wings of your butterfly). Use your peace fingers to hold on to your big toes. Keep the outside of your feet pressing into the floor.
Parent prompts: Where is your butterfly going? Can you flap your wings slow? Can you flap your wings fast? Can you squeeze your wings tight to your body? Can you open your wings wide?
Sit on the floor with knees bent in front of the body and hands beside your seat. Engage the core and lift legs 45-50 degrees relative to the floor, keeping knees bent so shins are parallel to the floor, hands can hold back of knees (making the shape of a boat). If available, consider stretching the legs long and hover hands along the side of the body with core engaged while balancing on your seat.
Parent prompts: Can you row your boat? (Move arms along side of body as if paddling) Can you hold the pose while we sing “Row Row Row Your Boat”? Use this pose while reading/watching/listening to “The Own And The Pussy Cat.”
Face each other with a slight bend in the knee and feet touch. Legs can either by straight or open in a straddle (If partners legs are longer or shorter consider touching anywhere. E.g., feet to knees). Lean forwards to grasp hands (a larger bend in the knee might be needed). Gently pull your partners hands as you lean back. After 10-15 seconds switch and let your partner pull you forward.
Parent prompts: Where do you feel the stretch? How long can you reach your body? Can you reach your stretch right out of the top of your head? Consider chanting “See” as you lean one way and “Saw” as you lean the other.
How do you get active as a family? Let me know in the comments!
Tune in to CH Morning Live on Monday September 28th to see this sequence in action! Missed this mornings show? Watch it here!