To help parents introduce yoga to their children and understand its benefits, we asked eight experts, including an Early Childhood Educator and a CEO, for their best advice. From introducing self-care language before practice to going slow and making yoga playful, these professionals provide a wealth of knowledge and practical tips.
- Introduce Self-Care Language Before Practice
- Practice Yoga Together and Consider It Therapy
- Utilize Fun Visuals for Learning
- Start the Practice Early for Better Awareness
- Encourage Creativity in Children’s Practice
- Emphasize Mindfulness and Body Awareness
- Make Yoga Fun and Engaging for Kids
- Go Slowly and Make Yoga Playful
Introduce Self-Care Language Before Practice
Creating a mindfulness and yoga practice with young children is best approached by introducing the language of self-care and mind-body awareness well before standing or sitting on your yoga mat. Infusing words and actions such as rest, reset, pause, notice, and breathe can motivate your children to adopt the practice.
Start by taking a moment to notice how your mind and body feel throughout the day. Yoga and mindfulness, in general, are about becoming increasingly aware of whether or not your mind and body are on the same page. Children imitate what they see and hear, so making yoga and mindfulness your daily practice will increase the likelihood that they will be inspired to do so.
As we give our adult brain and body what it asks for, children can see self-care in action and understand the value of being present with how increasingly present you become. With increased awareness comes daily self-regulation tools they can rely on throughout life.
Michelle Murano, Early Childhood Educator
Practice Yoga Together and Consider It Therapy
One of the best ways for parents to introduce yoga to their kids is to practice it together regularly. Start with around 20–25 minutes a few times per week. Children often want to do what their parents do and look to you to understand what is valuable. Show up with enthusiasm! Practice yoga together as an active, quality time together.
If your child is struggling with ADHD, anxiety, OCD, anger, self-esteem, or other mental health issues, consider finding a yoga therapy program that can help. Yoga therapy involves applying yoga practices to specific health conditions. It can be a powerful and effective way to empower children with the skills to regulate their responses.
Utilize Fun Visuals for Learning
Use fun visuals to help them learn poses and terminology. When my daughter turned three, I bought her the Yogarilla card deck, which was as much fun for me as it was for her. Yogarilla is a friendly gorilla that shows one yoga pose per card. The cards are large (5×7), shiny, and brightly colored.
Each card features the gorilla doing a yoga pose and the name of the pose. On the back are guides or fun activities parents can do with each pose. It was such a fun tool to introduce my daughter to yoga. She is eight now and still loves her Yogarilla cards.
Start the Practice Early for Better Awareness
My advice for parents who want to introduce yoga to their children is to start them as early as possible. Children have a natural curiosity that lets them quickly open their minds and learn new things. They have no fear of trying something new, which means they’ll be able to master the basic yoga poses.
Introducing yoga at a young age can help children become more flexible and develop better posture. It can also help them become more aware of their bodies and minds. As a result, yoga can help children to become more in tune with themselves and their surroundings.
Encourage Creativity in Children’s Practice
One tip for parents is encouraging children to be creative and express themselves through yoga. Allowing them to modify or create their yoga poses adds a personal touch to their practice. This fosters a sense of ownership, freedom, and enjoyment. Children can use their imagination to create unique poses or adapt existing ones. By embracing creativity, parents can make yoga more engaging and meaningful for their children.
Emphasize Mindfulness and Body Awareness
One important tip for parents introducing yoga to their children is emphasizing mindfulness and body awareness. While physical benefits are often highlighted, promoting mental and emotional well-being is equally important. Yoga can help children manage their emotions, enhance focus, and improve overall mental health.
For example, parents can guide their children through mindfulness exercises like the “body scan,” where they pay attention to each part of their body noticing any sensations. By helping kids connect with their bodies and be present in the moment, yoga can empower them to navigate challenges and foster a sense of calm.
Make It Fun and Engaging for Kids
For parents introducing yoga to their children, making it fun and engaging is important. Consider using age-appropriate resources like colorful mats, playful poses, and interactive stories. Keep sessions short and energetic to maintain their interest.
Benefits for younger practitioners are abundant. Yoga enhances flexibility, balance, and coordination. It cultivates body awareness and mindfulness from an early age. Moreover, yoga fosters self-regulation, concentration, and a positive body image.
By weaving yoga into a child’s routine, parents encourage a healthy relationship with physical activity and offer tools for managing stress and emotions. It’s a gift that nurtures physical and emotional well-being as they grow.
Go Slowly and Make Yoga Playful
While introducing yoga to children, start slow and make the experience playful and engaging. Kids have shorter attention spans and a natural inclination towards movement, so tailoring the practice to their energy levels and interests is crucial.
Choose age-appropriate poses and activities that resonate with their interests. Practicing yoga together fosters a sense of connection and awareness, relieving stress and enhancing flexibility at the same time.
As children progress in their practice and master new poses, they experience a sense of accomplishment that boosts their self-esteem and confidence. Introducing yoga at a young age can set the foundation for a lifelong healthy and active lifestyle in individuals.
Faizan Khan, Public Relations and Content Marketing Specialist, Ubuy UK
Introduce Yoga through Storytelling
Weaving stories into yoga sessions can make children’s practice far more engaging.
- Tip: Choose age-appropriate tales that feature animals or nature to match different yoga poses.
- For instance, you can tell a story about a lion while the kids perform the “Lion’s Breath” yoga pose.
Key Takeaway: Storytelling makes the session interactive and helps children connect with the poses emotionally, making the practice stick.
Incorporate Yoga into Daily Routines
Incorporating yoga into your daily routine solidifies the habit.
- Tip: The best times for a session could be after breakfast or before bedtime to instill calmness.
- Make it part of the daily to-do list, just like brushing teeth.
Key Takeaway: Regularity boosts the benefits of yoga and helps children understand its importance.
Yoga Gear for Kids
The right gear can excite kids about yoga.
- Tip: Choose yoga mats with fun designs or characters.
- Invest in comfortable, stretchable clothing.
Key Takeaway: Good gear can make the yoga experience more enjoyable and safe for kids.
Setting Up a Kid-Friendly Yoga Space
The environment matters when it comes to yoga.
- Clear away distractions.
- Use cushions or props for comfort.
Key Takeaway: A dedicated space for yoga enhances focus and creates a sacred area for practice.
Safety Measures and Precautions
Safety should never be overlooked.
- Always supervise younger kids.
- Begin with simple poses and gradually level up.
Key Takeaway: Prioritizing safety ensures a positive and injury-free yoga experience.
The Role of Music in Kids’ Yoga
Music can enhance the yoga experience.
- Tip: Opt for instrumental or nature sounds that aren’t too distracting.
- The music should complement, not overshadow, the yoga practice.
Key Takeaway: The right music can elevate the practice and help children connect more deeply with the experience.
Monitor Progress and Set Goals
Setting achievable goals keeps kids engaged.
- Start with small goals like mastering two new poses a week.
- Celebrate achievements, however small.
Key Takeaway: Monitoring progress and setting goals make the practice more intentional and rewarding.
Age-Specific Yoga Tips
Different age groups have unique needs.
- Toddlers: Focus on simple poses and shorter sessions.
- Preschoolers: Incorporate interactive elements like songs.
- School-age: Start introducing more complex poses and sequences.
Key Takeaway: Tailoring the approach based on age ensures that the yoga sessions are fun and beneficial.