Teaching yoga poses to toddlers and little kids can be a real challenge, but is fun and rewarding!

Imagine doing animal poses and making animals noises and reading books and chasing 12 toddlers to get them to do yoga in a big classroom

The biggest issue is usually a diaper blow out or getting bitten.

Ok, so maybe that doesn’t thrill, you, but that’s ok. You still might want some advice on teaching yoga to this age group!

I’ve recently been asked for tips on how to teach yoga to 2 and 3 year old’s, the littlest yogis who have lots of energy but not a lot of personal space boundaries.

Turns out, I happen to love teaching yoga to toddlers since I used to work at a preschool and daycare center. The toddler room was one of the first places that I started teaching yoga to kids.

Maybe it’s watching them put their head on the floor for down dog, or the excitement when we learn that they know the word “twist”. There's so much opportunity for learning and growth, it's always an adventure.

How to Teach Yoga to Toddlers and Kids of 2 or 3 Years Old, Yoga with Parents and Kids

What are the best yoga poses to do with toddlers?

The great thing about yoga for kids is that many yoga poses already have names of things kids like: dogs, cats, frogs, lizards, etc. Animal themed yoga poses are easy to implement with little kids too because they can move, make sounds, and play -which is how toddlers do their best learning.

Use this to your advantage when teaching toddler yoga poses and let them have fun. Yoga for kids doesn't have to be quiet and calm, the goal is to get them to explore how to move their body safely in new ways.

Try these easy and fun yoga poses for toddlers and little kids to help them explore and play while doing something good for their bodies!

Here are the pose images for some of the poses we did in the video for toddler yoga!

Mountain (reach up!)

illustration of mountain yoga pose

Star pose (reach out!)

illustration of star yoga pose

Forward fold (reach for your toes!)

a child is practicing forward fold with his feet together and arms and torso hanging over his straight legs, hands are touching the floor, spring rain

Down Dog (make an upside down triangle!)

down dog pose for kids, yoga at home with kids

Three legged dog (lift a leg and wiggle your puppy tail!)

illustration of three-legged dog yoga pose

Cat/cow pose (mostly they will just be crawling, but whatever)

illustration of cat yoga pose
Cat Pose
cow pose for kids, kneel on hands and knees and lower your tummy by arching your back and looking forward
Cow Pose

Cobra pose (wiggle like a snake!)

up dog, seal pose for my many colored days yoga lesson for kids

Child’s pose (make a tiny ball!)

childs pose for kids, rest your head on the floor and curl up on your knees, spring themed yoga pose for kids

Butterfly (sit with feet together!)

butterfly or bumblee pose for My Many Colored Days yoga lesson

Frog pose (squat with hands by your feet!)

crouch in frog pose for kids with your feet on the floor, knees bent, and your hands resting in front of you, spring yoga for kids

Savasana (pretend to be sleeping!)

Savasana pose for kids, a child laying in resting pose with arms by sides and looking up

After you do the poses, do them again. No seriously. REPEAT.

Kids this age love to repeat things. Their little brains learn more and more as they do things again and again.

That’s why a favorite word of toddlers is “MORE!” or “AGAIN!”.

Use this to your advantage and plan less, but do it all on repeat.  Obviously, if they didn’t do it at all the first time, they might not do it the second.

But if you had at least 50% of the class participating, do the activity, story, or pose again. The more you build up excitement with the group, other kids will want to try it too.

Don't forget to teach your toddlers some mindfulness and meditation techniques, too! Get a huge list of ideas here:

Mindfulness Meditation Games for Toddlers

How do you teach yoga poses to toddlers in a class, group, or at home?

Here are some more tips for how to teach yoga to toddlers!

1. Use engaging yet simple language

It’s important to talk to them in an engaging and energetic voice. Change your tone up and down, and show them that you are excited to do yoga by using a storytelling voice. 

An energetic tone grabs their attention and helps keep it. ( I sometimes have a hard time keeping this up if it feels fake, but toddler yoga classes are usually shorter anyway, so it works out.)

Also, make sure to use simple phrases. Tell them you will do yoga poses together and pretend to be animals.

Let them know they should copy the moves that you do, and be safe, but that’s about it. They don’t really need to know WHY since they will hear it in your voice how much fun it is.

2. Establish personal space for yoga poses

If you are in a class: make sure the kids have enough space to move and try poses without landing on each other, or you (though they inevitably will). Remind them it’s important not to touch other while we do yoga.

You can, and should, talk about personal space, but know that they might not get it right away. It’s a process!

The best way to do this is just to model it with your own body. Talk through each pose and say what YOU are doing with your body and they will follow suit as best they can.

If you have mats, make it a game to stay on the mat and talk about fun and squishy it is.

If you don’t have mats, just try to remind them not to touch others (or lay on them).

At home: it's still important to talk about personal space. My sister got her toddler a used yoga mat (from me!) to inspire him to try some poses with her and it worked great!

She is also very good at making sure he knows about his body, his choice, and autonomy. Doing yoga next to him is a great way to show a reminder good personal space boundaries.

Here are some adorable and enticing kids yoga mats on Amazon if you want one for your kiddo: 

My sister and her toddler had some great success being on their own yoga mats. He copied her and tried his best with some of basic poses. (So cute!!!)

mom and toddler doing yoga in living room, mom and child are practicing happy baby, three legged dog, childs pose, and knees into tummy on a red yoga mat

3. Designate a specific yoga space for less toddler wandering

Along with personal space, it helps to try to keep them within a smaller physical space.  Toddlers tend to lose focus and find something to do on their own if they aren’t very close to the thing you want them to attend to.

If you have a small designated space to practice in, great. If you are in their toddler room at the preschool, you might want to rearrange some furniture in the room or use lines or mats on the floor, to help them know where yoga class is.

Obviously don't force them to stay or MAKE them do anything, again: your body, your choice.

It just helps them to know what's going on when they are close by and can see and hear well without buckets of toys to get into.

They should stay close by if you are engaging enough, but it helps to remove other distractions if you have a large class.

4. Use books to keep engagement (and literacy!) high

The single best way to teach kids poses in toddler yoga classes is with books.  It’s generally a good idea to do a warm up game of “Yogi Says” or “Pretend You are A…” to get them moving and focused on you as their teacher.

Then, pick a book with lots of animals and read the story. Do a pose per page (approximately) and keep reading. It works well to have board books that have lots of animals and not too many words. That keeps them moving and interested.

Here's a list of great library books that are easy to adapt to yoga poses!

If you don't know the matching pose for each animal, make it up, or ask the kids to make one up!  They will love that.

literacy and yoga for toddlers

These are the best books that I have found for toddler yoga:

You can also see a great list of Kids Yoga books, already with the pose pictures included in the story in this post here:

Must-Have Favorite Yoga Books for Teaching Yoga to Kids

Many of them are great for toddler yoga classes. You can see specifically what ages each book is good for, so check it out!

5. Set up a few yoga pose cards and tell a short story. Then repeat.

Another great lesson idea is to tape up 5 or 10 yoga pose cards to the wall or an easel. Tell as silly story with each pose, or in continuum.

You can move through them quickly or hold each pose as you count to three (like a game!)

Here is a post with some of my favorite kids yoga cards from Amazon:

How to Pick the Best Cards for Teaching Awesome Kids Yoga Classes

Here's a set of digital Yoga Cards for the Perfect Yoga Flow that would work great for this as well.

yoga flow poses for kids

Hopefully these tips and ideas helped you if you are a teacher of toddler yoga or a parent of a little one.

Little ones are so much fun and definitely worth the trouble 🙂 

Here's a few more tips on how to teach yoga to toddlers, and kids of all ages!

How to Teach Yoga to Toddlers

How to Effectively Teach Kid's Yoga Based on Child Development

What other yoga poses do you do with your kids or toddlers at home or at school?

Check out some more kids yoga and mindfulness resources in my Free Resources Library:

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    4 Comments

    1. I second that. This is great info as I want to start doing yoga with my LO who turns 1yo this week, but toddler yoga classes don’t start in my area until 2yrs. Makes perfect sense, but I’m anxious to start this journey with her (we need to do something with her increasing amount of energy) and I like the idea of reading books which we already do and adding yoga poses!

      1. Hey Saudia,

        I’m so glad you found the information helpful! I’m sure your little one will really enjoy using books to try out the yoga poses with you. They love mimicking parents and caregivers at that age 🙂 Enjoy.

        Maia

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