Welcome to the wonderful world of yoga for kids! If you’re a yoga teacher, school teacher, childcare provider, or a parent looking to introduce your little ones to the joys of yoga, you’re in the right place.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the benefits of yoga for children, age-appropriate poses, tips to make it fun and engaging, and how to seamlessly incorporate the practice into daily routines.
What type of yoga is good for kids?
Yoga is a holistic practice that focuses on the mind, body, and spirit. For children, it is important to choose a style that is fun, engaging, and age-appropriate.
Hatha is an excellent choice for kids as it combines gentle physical postures with breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. Other popular styles such as Vinyasa or Ashtanga may be too challenging for young children and can lead to frustration.
Kids’ abilities to do certain poses will vary with age and with their levels of strength and flexibility. The most important thing is to teach them to be aware of their body and just try their best without forcing anything.
What Are the Benefits of Kids Yoga?
A morning yoga routine is not just good for grown-ups—it has amazing benefits for children too!
Improved Physical Fitness: Yoga promotes flexibility, strength, and balance, helping children develop healthy bodies and better posture.
Enhanced Mental Focus: Regular yoga practice helps children improve their concentration, memory, and attention span, leading to better academic performance.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Yoga teaches children valuable relaxation techniques, empowering them to manage stress and navigate their emotions with ease.
Cultivated Self-Awareness and Mindfulness: Through yoga, children learn to be present in the moment, fostering self-awareness, self-acceptance, and compassion towards themselves and others.
How Do You Explain Yoga to Kids?
Explaining yoga to kids can be as simple as describing it as a fun way to move and stretch your body while focusing on breathing.
“Yoga helps us learn to move our body in new ways, get stronger, and more flexible! It also helps us learn to keep trying, even when things feel new or difficult.”
You can also introduce the concept of mindfulness by explaining that yoga helps us become more aware of our thoughts and emotions calmly and peacefully.
To make it even more relatable to younger kids, you can use examples such as pretending to be animals in different yoga poses or taking deep breaths to calm down when feeling frustrated.
Overall, the key is to keep it light and playful while emphasizing the importance of self-care and self-awareness.
At What Age Can Children Start Doing Yoga?
Children as young as three years old can start practicing poses with guidance and support from an instructor or parent.
However, it is important to choose age-appropriate poses and keep the sessions short and fun for younger children.
As they grow older, their practice can become more serious and challenging, but it’s always important to make sure they are enjoying themselves and not pushing themselves too hard. It should be a fun, creative way to get some more movement in their day.
The Best Yoga Poses for Kids of All Ages
Now, let’s explore some age-appropriate yoga poses that will make the practice enjoyable and beneficial for kids of all ages.
Kids Yoga Poses for Ages 3-5:
Toddlers and Preschoolers can do many yoga poses that have both feet flat on the ground, hands and knees on the ground, or most anything sitting flat or lying down.
They will be learning body parts and will start to be able to bend forward from standing but remember that their heads are still a bit larger proportionately to the rest of their bodies and will be heavy.
- Cat/cow pose
- Mountain pose
- Down Dog
- Star Pose
- Chair Pose
- Seated Forward Fold
- Frog Pose
- Tree Pose
Kids Yoga Poses for Ages 5-10:
These kids are getting better at doing poses on one side and then can switch sides. They will be able to have one foot forward and one foot back, do poses with bent knees, turn their hips for some poses, and be aware of their arms and shoulders.
All of the above poses, plus more:
- Crescent Moon Pose
- Warrior 1 and 2
- Goddess Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Low Lunge
- Triangle Pose
- Dragon Pose
- Monkey Pose
- Flamingo Pose (modified Dancer)
- Eagle Pose
Kids Yoga Poses for Ages 11+
As kids approach puberty, most of the poses are accessible to kids, but some poses may be less comfortable for them to do in a class.
Be aware of poses that may feel awkward or vulnerable to teens, but remind them that practicing yoga is about the way our muscles are feeling, not necessarily the shape we are in.
Most of the above poses, plus more:
- Extended Side Angle
- Reverse Warrior
- Chair Pose Twist
- Lizard Pose
- Warrior 3
- Shoulder Stand
- Wheel Pose
- Most balances poses
For a more in-depth guide on how to teach yoga poses to kids of any age, check out this guide to Yoga for Kids of All Ages.
Tips for Making Yoga Poses Fun for Kids
Most kids won’t look at adults holding a yoga pose for 3-5 slow breaths and think it’s fun. They need to see the adults having fun, being creative, and essentially playing “pretend” with yoga poses to get inspired to join.
To keep children excited about yoga, here are some tips to make the practice fun and engaging:
Incorporate Storytelling and Imagination: Take children on a yoga pose adventure by weaving stories around the poses. Imagine being animals in the jungle or exploring the depths of the ocean!
Use a Theme to Get Kids Interested and Engaged: Choose a theme for the yoga practice, such as animals, outer space, or their favorite storybook characters. This can make the practice more exciting and relatable for kids.
Play Some Exciting Yoga Games: Incorporate interactive yoga games, such as”Yogi Says,” “Yoga Freeze” or “Yoga Tic-Tac-Toe”, to keep children engaged and entertained. Here are some printable yoga games, or some fun group game ideas.
Use Props and Music: Props like colorful scarves, bubbles, stuffed animals, or singing bowls can add an element of playfulness to the practice. You can also incorporate music and songs that align with the poses to make it even more engaging.
Introduce Partner Poses and Group Activities: Encourage children to practice poses together, fostering a sense of teamwork and connection. Partner poses and group games or activities create a fun and supportive environment.
Inspire Creativity and Self-Expression: Let children express themselves through yoga by allowing them to modify poses or create their own. This nurtures their imagination and builds confidence. There are no specific rules for what each pose is called, be creative!
Where Can You Teach Yoga for Children?
Teaching Yoga in Schools
Many schools are now incorporating yoga into their curriculum, recognizing its benefits for students’ physical and mental well-being. Yoga can be added to the classroom when teachers integrate yoga poses to read-aloud story sessions or use yoga videos as a brain break.
Consider organizing a session or workshop at your child’s school, either for a special event or as part of their physical education program.
Some schools will even be open to including a class and will hire a yoga teacher or encourage their current staff to attend a local training.
Teaching Yoga in Community Centers, Studios, or Exercise Gyms
Any place in the community where there are yoga teachers or exercise classes can be a great place to offer a kid’s yoga class.
Community centers often offer a variety of programs for children, including yoga classes. Yoga studios and exercise gyms may offer camps for kids or regular weekly sessions for kids yoga.
Teaching Yoga at Home
With the help of online training courses and books, parents can also teach their children yoga at home. It’s a great bonding activity that can be done in the comfort of your own home.
There are plenty of kids yoga books that have poses, and there are card decks that can help children explore, play, and focus on the different aspects of a yoga practice. This includes exploring their feelings, balance, and physical abilities.
Yoga is not just a physical activity, but also a mindful practice that can greatly benefit children’s behavior and overall development.
By introducing yoga to children in a fun and engaging way, we are providing them with valuable tools for self-awareness, self-regulation, and stress management.