Often times we refrain from introducing something new into a child’s play for fear of it being complicated or time consuming. Perhaps we don’t fully understand it ourselves or feel discouraged from others due to cultural and communal expectations. When looking into yoga for children, many parents are interested but shy away from classes that are not affordable for them; leaving parents as the teachers. Could parents really be suitable teachers for something like teaching yoga? Would their children understand?
Of course! Luckily for us, children are sponges and yoga is about the person; not the pose. Children can access yoga in their play immediately after being introduced. Beautiful (free) resources are available for parents to help children engage with yoga during their play. From videos to pictures to books, children can become independent yoga practitioners. All they need are those few moments of introduction to get them hooked. And you are the perfect person to introduce them.
Setting the Scene
Children learn best through play. This means that a “class” from your instruction doesn’t need to happen. In fact, you can learn together at the same time! Let exploration happen naturally to combat resistance from our bolder children and to encourage our more reserved bunch. Introduce poses during playtime to build interest in both your child and you.
Let’s Get Movin’
Below, I’ve provided some simple introductory poses and sequences to get your little one movin’. While I’ve provided videos and pictures here, go ahead and pull up some pictures of poses on your phone to explore during playtime if memory is not your forte. It isn’t about having a perfect flow; it’s about providing a curious introduction to spark the interest of your child.
1. Sun Salutations
There are a few different ways to do a sun salutation. The names are not necessary for children. To be quite honest, most kids make up names for sequences and poses as it is. In this video, you will find 2 variations of a sun salutation. While they are both similar, one sequence may be more accessible for your child due age, size and physical development.
Here is Surya Namaskār A
and the Namaplay Sun Salute.
2. Animal Poses
Children love animals. (It’s like a childhood requirement or something.) Even more so, they love pretending to BE these animals. They’re so different from us! How they move, eat, communicate; all of these details vary so widely. It’s no wonder children use animals in so much of their pretend play.
Here are simple Animal Poses that can easily be inserted into playtime, or even made into a game.
3. Simple Play Poses
While animals are obviously amazing, we can’t forget the simple everyday objects and actions that can be created with a yoga pose. From flowers and tables to castles and waves, the possibilities are endless.
Here are some Simple Play Poses.
Spontaneity is Special
Once you introduce these postures into your child’s playtime, they may completely take the reigns. Physical exploration is incredible! Children consistently take poses and rename them, reshape them, reimagine them and transform them. I am in constant awe of the children I teach.
When children take these poses and change them into something new, try not to correct it unless you fear that it may be unsafe. (Ie: putting weight on the head or lower spine.) As adults, we have a natural tendency towards perfection. Our view of what’s “right” is often skewed by our own experiences in life. For children, perfection is not yet a concept (hopefully). This means that whatever they come up with is AWESOME and RIGHT in their eyes. Taking the pressure off of perfection and proper alignment and instead reveling in the joy of innocence and wonder should be our top priority.
I hope that these simple postures and sequences can become regular moments in your child’s play time. Whether they stick to these postures, or take off on their own movement exploration, the goal is to get them experimenting with the way their body moves in order to create a happier, healthier and more harmonious life. If you introduce yoga to your children this week, let us know! We would love to hear from you! Drop us a line in the comment section below and tell us about your experience. Perhaps your child loved it, or maybe they were confused. Perhaps you enjoyed the momentary stretch and release for your OWN body. Either way, I encourage you to explore movement and yoga with your children. The benefits for both of you are endless.