Yoga is a great way to exercise and relax the mind, and body but is it relaxing with toddlers and little kids? Not necessarily, but that’s also not always the goal.
Yoga can be done by people of all ages, including toddlers. When learning how to teach yoga and mindfulness to kids, it’s important to recognize their abilities and limits, and to set reasonable expectations.
Toddlers are still learning movement skills, both large motor and small motor control. Yoga can help them learn new skills and ways to move their body safely. It will also help them learn to focus their mind on an activity that requires concentration and creating new neural pathways.
Yoga for toddlers should be a fun way to explore and play with young kids, while also giving them the opportunity to learn to move and be mindful.
Check out these tips for how to teach yoga to toddlers in a way that is successful and beneficial for everyone.
Why do Yoga with Toddlers?
Yoga is a great activity for toddlers, as it helps them to develop flexibility, balance, coordination, and body awareness.
It also helps them to improve their concentration and focus, and it teaches them to keep trying to achieve new things with their movement.
Mindfulness and breathing are also an integral part of yoga, so when you add this into your toddler yoga session, you will be helping them learn the basics of emotional regulation and body awareness.
These skills are lifelong tools and can be introduced to toddlers early on to help with mind-body awareness and social-emotional learning.
Practicing yoga with your toddler at home can also help to strengthen your bond and deepen your relationship. Movement and mindfulness are great ways to deepen connections with yourself and others around you.
How to Teach and Practice Yoga with Toddlers
Practice Yoga Poses with Your Toddler or Class
One of the most important things to know right away is that kids will want to do something that YOU are actively doing and enjoying.
Yes, sometimes they will follow a video or a voice telling them what to do.
But mostly they learn by watching another human and copying them. Do the yoga poses with your toddler or class of kiddos and encourage them to copy you and follow along.
Have fun with it and let yourself be silly and play. They will be so excited to play with you!
Let Them Simply Join in with Your Yoga Practice
Let your child at home see you practice yoga for self care too. If you need time on your own, of course, take that. But if you are able, let them be around you while you do yoga, too!
Maybe they will lay next to you, climb on you in child’s pose, or want you to hold them in Warrior 2. Encourage them to sit on your knees while you try boat pose, or lift them up while you do chair pose. You’ll get an extra workout, and they will have fun and experience the movement, too!
Engage with them and continue your practice, but let them be with you– feeling your energy and hopefully calm mood.
Choose a Safe and Comfortable Space
Choose a safe and comfortable space to do yoga with your toddler or group of kiddos. Make sure the area is free from any sharp objects or distracting toys. If you can define the boundaries of the space, that will help keep them focused on what you are doing.
Use a yoga mat or a towel to provide a comfortable surface for your toddler to sit on. If you don’t have mats in a classroom, tape on the floor or rubber dots or cones can help establish personal space for each toddler.
Giving them their own special space will help encourage them and make it exciting for learning something new.
Keep the Poses Simple and Playful
When learning how to teach yoga to toddlers, remember to keep the yoga poses simple and age-appropriate. Stick to poses that are animal themed or nature themed if you like. Start with basic poses like downward-facing dog, cat-cow, tree pose, elephant, and frog.
Make the poses “playful!” Let them make the animal sounds, wiggle their tails, hop in place, stick out a lizard tongue, or swing their trunk.
Here’s a post with a video of great toddler yoga poses that are mostly animal and nature themed, and very playful.
Use Songs and Rhymes to Keep their Attention
Use songs and rhymes to make the yoga session more fun and engaging for your toddler and keep them entertained.
Singing, chanting, and rhythmic sounds help engage kiddos and keep them focused longer. It literally turns on a new area of their brain and makes things exciting.
Incorporate nursery rhymes and children’s songs into the yoga routine to make it more interactive and playful. Some of our favorites are: Row Row Row Your Boat, Old Mac Donald Had a Farm, I’m a Little Teapot, and Down By the Bay.
Make it Playful with Silly Poses and Games
When starting to learn how to make yoga possible for toddlers, remember they love to play and have fun.
Incorporate games and playful movements into the routine, such as animal noises with each pose, transportation and movement poses, or the “simon says” game.
Use props like stuffed animals or blocks to make the poses more engaging. Challenge them mindfulness activities like stacking yoga blocks, balancing with an animal on their head, or pretend to be sleeping during savasana.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
For the fist few times doing yoga with toddlers you may only get them to try one or two poses. Or none at all!
They need to be ready to learn to try new things and it may not happen right away. That’s ok, just keep trying to engage them when you can.
Also, recognize that their abilities in movement and body positioning are much different that an older child or an adult. Don’t worry about their alignment of poses, just let them try and experiment on their own.
Praise their effort-if they think they’re doing the pose, celebrate with them and keep going!
Follow Your Toddler’s Lead
If you are on your own at home with your kiddos, it’s ok to follow your toddler’s lead and let them guide the session.
If your toddler loses interest in a pose, move on to another one. If they like a playful pose and want to do it again, let them repeat!
Repetition is so natural for kids at this age because it’s what their brain needs to learn. If they want to wiggle their butt in down dog 20 times in a row, go ahead and let them.
Emphasize Breathing with Yoga Poses
Yoga is a great time to learn the importance of deep breathing. Use a breathing ball to start to teach your toddler to breathe in and out with a cue.
Then, tell them to breathe in and out a couple times during each yoga pose. Breathing can help to calm the mind and relax the body, and it can also help to improve focus and concentration.
Practice Mindfulness with Toddlers
Mindfulness for toddlers is not just sitting still and breathing. Use your words to literally bring their awareness to what their body is doing.
Cue them to use their hands to feel their breathing in their body, tell them look at where their feet are, or to listen to the sound of a singing bowl.
Encourage them to use their sense and notice what is happening in the present moment with their body and breath. Mindfulness in this way helps to set the foundation for improving emotional regulation, and reducing stress and anxiety.
Benefits of Practicing Yoga with Toddlers
Develops Large and Small Motor Skills
Yoga can help to develop your toddler’s motor skills, including coordination, balance, and flexibility. The movements and poses in yoga require the use of different muscle groups, which can help to improve overall body awareness and control.
Using new muscles groups, turning or twisting the body in different ways, and trying new shapes all helps with core muscle development as well.
Improves Focus and Concentration
Teaching yoga to toddlers can help to improve their focus and concentration. The practice of trying new yoga poses and shapes requires thinking about and paying attention to the where their body is in space. This can help to improve cognitive function and awareness of what they are doing, which is mindfulness!
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Yoga can help to reduce stress and anxiety in both you and your toddler. The breathing techniques and mindfulness practices in yoga can help to calm the mind and reduce the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Simply showing your kiddos how to take a deep breath can be a fun game in and of itself. Use some of these fun breathing exercises to teach your toddler how to mindfulness take a deep breath during yoga.
Strengthens Bond and Relationship
Practicing yoga with your toddler can help to strengthen your bond and deepen your relationship. Yoga is a shared activity that promotes connection and communication between you and your child.
Practicing yoga with your toddler can help to strengthen your bond and deepen your relationship. Fun and silly yoga poses can be a shared activity that creates connection and encourages communication between you and your child.
Teaches Emotional Regulation
Yoga can help to teach your toddler emotional regulation skills. The mindfulness and breathing practices in yoga can help your kiddos start to recognize their feelings and emotions.
Trying something new and challenging may be tricky or frustrating for your child, but with yoga we work on progress. They will improve over time and the process of getting better is a great way to teach kids how to overcome challenges.
Encourages a Healthy Lifestyle
Practicing yoga with your toddler can help to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle. By making yoga a regular part of your routine, you can help to instill healthy habits in your child that will benefit them throughout their life.
Movement, exercise, and deep breathing all help us maintain homoeostasis, or balance, in our lives. Make that a part of your routine by learning how to teach yoga to your toddlers and they will benefit as well.
Provides a Safe Space for Exploration
Yoga can provide a safe space for your toddler to explore their body and movements. It can also help to promote body positivity and self-esteem, as your child learns to appreciate and accept their body for what it is.
Yoga is a wonderful activity to do with toddlers. It promotes physical and mental well-being, strengthens the bond between parent and child, and provides a safe and fun space for exploration and learning. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can create a positive and engaging yoga practice with your toddler that will benefit both of you in countless ways.