Do you love yoga and walk out of classes feeling calmer, happier and with a renewed sense of self and energy? Would you like to share this with your children at home or in the classroom but haven’t known where to start or had the confidence to try?
You are not alone. Thousands of parents throughout Australia are practising yoga, mindfulness or meditation and reaping the rewards of better health, lower levels of stress and anxiety and happiness. Yet, we see our children suffering from such a young age with low self-esteem, lack of confidence, an inability to focus and manage their emotions.
There are hundreds of yoga classes for kids springing up in every state in Australia and thousands of children and teens are practising yoga at school, because of the impact it has on their minds and emotions. Think of the benefits of a daily home yoga practice with your child!
If you are interested in building your child’s self-esteem, confidence, focus & discipline or are you dealing with challenges such as tantrums, emotional upsets, stress and worries, bullying, behavioural issues and sleepless nights, then the best way to help them is through a short daily yoga practice; one that is age-appropriate, fun, but also has a beneficial effect on calming their mind and emotions.
If your focus is on the physical health benefits, then yoga therapy for kids may be your answer: using specific exercises to help your children with bed wetting, digestive issues, allergies, asthma, ADHD or autism. The right exercises, done in the right way, often brings instant change and can be a solution many parents have been looking for. For more information on yoga therapy 4 kids, go to: https://zenergyyoga.com/ for a free download.
Can you imagine if you had started yoga when you were their age? How life would have been different at school or the choices you made and how you’d felt about yourself? This is the gift you can give them — empowering children to look after their own physical health and giving them access to a place inside that is safe, secure and loving and always there when they need it.
The question is, where to start? How do you get your children onto the yoga mat and excited to do some yoga with you? Here are my top tips for getting your child on the mat and my top ten tips for a successful class.
Top Tips for Getting your Child Interested in Yoga:
- Make it Fun
The number one tip for having your children want to do yoga with you is if you make it fun. There are many ways to do this — using songs, music, games, massage, partner work, stories, books and themes. Use movements and sequences that are more dynamic, faster-paced, energising and that keep your child’s engagement. The best way to do that is by having fun yourself. The more excited you are, the more enjoyable it will be for them. Younger children may like to start with a song to get ready for yoga, some may like to do partner poses and stretches with you to warm up, others like to learn a new pose each day and most children love a massage at the end. There are endless possibilities for a class with children. The key is to have fun moments in a structured way to balance out the calmer, more focussed poses and the relaxation time.
- Make it Imaginative
Childhood is a wonderful time to utilise and ignite imaginations and your yoga class can do just this. When doing tree pose with children, they really believe and imagine themselves as a tree, when doing lion pose, they really feel like a lion roaring ! So, add animal poses in that make sounds, roar all your worries away, stretch out like a cat waking up from a nap, stand tall like a tree that balances in the wind and stays still, strong and upright, no matter what is happening around. Children love dressing up, so we will take capes into class to become our own superhero and fly across the world in superman pose to save the planet.
- Make it Interactive
Yoga with your kids is such a special time to connect with them and share a practice that is like no other. It’s quality time together hen you get to explore the world though the movements of your body, to laugh together, sing together and share a quiet space with each other.
In the process of doing yoga with your child, you not only educate them about their body, feelings and mind, but can help to connect them to a deep place inside that will be their guide for all their future life decisions.
This can be an educational time together, where you teach them to count in Spanish, or learn body parts, count syllables, lean the alphabet. Each class could journey them to a different part of the world, to learn about animals, cultures or the environment.
The more you involve them in the class and ask questions or have them input their own ideas, the more they will connect with the class and enjoy it.
- Make it Meaningful
Lastly, if we want children to receive the many physical, mental and emotional benefits of yoga, the class must go beyond fun and games. For any class to have impact, it must be meaningful. This is the reason we want to do yoga with our children, to give them the tools to self-calm. Self-regulate and develop a strong sense of self; one that can stand up for themselves and others, one that is kind, compassionate and caring and one that never doubts themselves.
This is where the true essence of yoga comes in and we can teach this to 3 year olds, 9 year olds and 17 year olds. But how? Quite simply, we choose a yoga technique that will have the strengthening or calming result that we want for our child and make it age appropriate. For little kids, that might look like belly breathing with a bath time duck on their belly, watching it bob up on the imaginary wave as they breathe in and bob down on the wave as they breathe out. For 9 year olds, it might be a mindfulness technique of becoming aware of their senses, taking a few minutes to fully observe each one and at the end noticing how their mind, emotions and energy has settled. For teens it could be focusing their minds on gratitude, kindness or a class to build their self-worth.
These are the exercises that the children will love and look forward to every time. Yes, they enjoy the fun, but it’s the substance that will make a difference.
Yoga With Your Children
Top Ten Tips for a successful yoga class at home.
- Set time everyday to do a few minutes of yoga with your child.
- Scheduling the same time every day, helps to set up a routine, which leads to a better disciplined mind.
- Make it a special time together by having a ritual. Maybe you go to a special corner in the room, maybe you have a singing bowl that you sound, maybe you start with a prayer.
- Set up your spots, so you are facing each other. This is one of the lovely moments of connection and eye contact you will cherish with each other. It’s a special time to gift them your full presence.
- There isn’t any right or wrong way to do it. Enjoy being together.
- Have fun! The first movements are designed to be heaps of fun, to engage your child in.
- Have moments of quiet and stillness.
- Finish what you start. If your child only does a few minutes with you, the next time, they will join in for longer and so on. If you keep it going and make it fun, they will want in.
- Have a special ritual at the end. Maybe say thank you to each other, Om together.
- Praise and cuddles at the end are always the reward for you both. Enjoy those.
Whether you are a parent, teacher or work with children in any capacity, here are two simple sequences to get started with that are practical and easy to do in the comfort of your own home, classroom or studio.
The yoga exercises have an autumn focus on the digestive system and lungs to help strengthen the immune system against coughs and colds and flu. Ending the class with a breathing exercise and relaxation will teach children how to self-calm, self-soothe and find stillness and peace inside.
- Mini Sun Salute
Start on the knees. Inhale lifting up and raising the arms up to the sky.
Exhale, back down to the knees
Inhale to Cat Pose, arching the spine up
Exhale to Cow Pose, dropping the belly down
Inhale, drop hips to Cobra Pose
Exhale back to Cat Pose
Inhale stretch hips back to Child’s Pose
Repeat 6 times and include the animal noises.
- Roly Poly Bear
Ask your child to lie down on their back with their hands interlaced behind their head and knees bent. Tell them to squeeze their knees together as they exhale and drop their knees side to side. Tell them, “Imagine you are a bear who has been hibernating in winter and you are slowly waking up.”
Stay lying on your back with your hands interlaced behind the head.
Cycle the legs up to the ceiling x 10 slowly and then x 10 fast.
Have them imagine that they are cycling up a big hill for the first set of 10 and then flying downhill very quickly for the second set of 10.
- Belly Breathing
Start by instructing your child to, “Lie down on your back, with your feet apart and your hands on your belly.”
Ask them to, “Take a big breath in and a big breath out. Take another big breath in and a big breath out.”
Maybe they can feel some movement underneath their hands when they breathe in and movement when they breathe out.
Tell them to, “Notice how your belly rises as you breathe in and falls as you breathe out.
Watching the belly rise as you breathe in and falling as you breathe out.
As you breathe in, feel the belly rising like a balloon filling with air and as you breathe out, feel the belly sinking down like a balloon deflating. Breathing in, belly rises like a balloon filling with air and as you breathe out, all the air going back out.”
Lastly, have them notice how they feel at the end and if their mind is quieter?
- My Happy Place
Lay them on their backs, turn their palms up, let their feet flop out to the sides and ask them to pull their chin in slightly into their chests. Tell them to relax every part of the body and close their eyes. You are going to guide them on a journey to their happy place.
Ask them to, “Imagine you have just waled into your happy place, a place that makes you really happy.” Give them a few options of what it may look like. Then have them notice, “All the things you can see, all the sounds you can hear, notice all the smells.” Have them relax in their happy place for a few minutes enjoying the tranquil, peaceful place, or maybe they will fall into a deep sleep.
Have fun doing this mini yoga class with your kids and at the same time you’ll be strengthening your own digestive system and getting the benefits of a calmer mind.
Enjoy the magic of seeing your children drift off into a peaceful happy place that leads to a much more enjoyable and calm time together and a deeper, restful night’s sleep.
If you see the immediate benefit and impact on your children and feel the pull to impact more little lives, then come learn how to be a children’s yoga teacher and join our community of children’s yoga teachers, teaching in every state throughout Australia. It can be one of the most rewarding, uplifting jobs you do or career changes you make.
YOGA JOURNAL – MAY/JUNE 2019 – ISSUE 75
Loraine is a leading authority on yoga for children and teens. Over the past 20 years, she’s spent over 20,000 hours teaching 1000s of children and teens. Her mission is to impact the lives of millions of children worldwide and set the standard for children’s yoga. She has trained thousands of yoga teachers, school teachers, parents and others who work with children throughout the world on how to teach yoga in a way that is meaningful, impactful and fun. www.zenergyyoga.com