I’m a huge fan of yoga and I’ve practiced in some way for most of my adult life. When I fell pregnant with my first child, one of the first books I bought was ‘Baby Om’ to learn how I could practice with my newborn.
The reality was slightly different to the beautiful, graceful images depicted in the text and there was no mention of dealing with squirming, crying or projectile vomiting. I also hadn’t factored in the menagerie of animals keen to join the fun. This didn’t become part of our daily routine but the intention was there!
You are never too young to practice yoga! Baby yoga classes are gaining popularity in the UK and around the world. To find out more about the benefits of baby yoga, check out this blog post from the UK company Blossom and Berry: https://www.blossomandberry.com/7920-2/
Toddlers and young children can also greatly benefit from being exposed to yoga and practicing it at a young age. It is one of the few exercises and activities that is universal in its access and can be adapted to any ages and ability.
Benefits to Yoga
The benefits of yoga have been well documented. Flexibility, improved posture and core strength, increased blood flow, better muscle strength etc, etc.
Yoga can contribute to overall wellness though and even very young children can benefit from its effects.
Yoga is an effective Self-Regulation Tool.
My five-year-old daughter can best summarise this. I asked her why she enjoys yoga and with no hesitation she said “When I’m tired, I do some yoga and I feel better…and when I’m frustrated, or I don’t know what to do, yoga always helps me calm down”. Yoga can be introduced as a tool to support toddlers and children to identify their feelings and emotions and support them to calm down and self-regulate. This requires some coaching and repetition but it works!
Yoga is linked to Mindfulness.
Life can be chaotic. Children can struggle to focus their attention and the concept of ‘mindfulness’ can be difficult to grasp. Yoga slows things down and brings a natural awareness to the body and breathing. At the very least, we use some yoga actions and measured breathing to avoid tantrums and meltdowns.
Yoga is an achievement.
Yoga doesn’t need to be taken seriously. With my children, there’s a lot of rolling around on the floor, falling over and bouts of hysteria if someone farts. But the sense of accomplishment is evident when one of them does master a pose, balances on one leg or works through a routine. Even the two-year-old engages happily in the practice and tries his best, pleased with his achievements.
Practice at Home
Yoga classes are great because they are taught by registered professionals who can adjust postures, answer questions and guide children through the routines. There is always the friendship offered through attending a class. Children can learn alongside their peers and keep motivated to attend.
You may not always have access to a class in your area though, and sessions can be expensive. In my case, I’m always cautious not to overschedule my children because they are already so busy with activities, so yoga is something we do at home and try to fit into our day to day routines with a bit of flexibility.
I’m always on the look out for new resources and these are a few of my favourites:
Cosmic Kids Yoga:
This one is the favourite in our house! We have finally entered the world of technology and can now stream YouTube through our television. Her yoga adventures engage both my children from start to finish and we’ve explored the different poses, relaxation sessions and They are quick and easy to follow routines that could easily be used in classrooms or with community groups as well as at home. You can sign up for a free 60 min crash course to learn how to get started. There is even an app you can download to your phone or tablet. You can find out more here: https://www.cosmickids.com/
We absolutely love Kira’s music and listen to her yoga tracks as well as her music for mindfulness. I use a lot of her music in our SensoBaby classes in the community. Her music is available to download on iTunes and you can find out more about her on her website: https://www.kirawilley.com/about-kira
There are many books written for children that take them through yoga poses. My children love reading through them and the benefits are their accessibility. Some are written as scripts for adults to narrate to children. It can be hard to read the book as well as demonstrating the poses though. We’ve definitely got a few more on our wish list this year!
Yoga is a fun and easy activity you can introduce your little ones to. Why not introduce your family to its benefits?