Getting children involved in a yoga practice at an early age helps nurture commitment to a healthy lifestyle, fosters a sense of community with others and instills respect for the environment.
Other benefits of yoga for children include:
Improved motor skills
Fortunately, most children are eager to try yoga and take to it quickly. Their flexible bodies are able to perform poses quite well, which leads to a feeling of accomplishment and success for them, making it a fun activity.
However, not all children are so apt to try the ancient practice. This can be disappointing for parents who practice yoga and have realized the benefits of yoga for themselves. So how can I get my child more interested in trying yoga? Keep it easy, fun and free of expectations!
It’s important to maintain a playful environment for children’s yoga. Laugh, run, roll around and smile a lot! Don’t sweat it if they lose interest quickly — they have short attention spans after all. It’s better to keep it short and sweet and have them experience a few poses in a fun way than to force them to endure a long, rigid practice that could turn them off of yoga for good.
It’s acceptable to have an idea of what poses you’d like your child to do, but try to avoid getting committed to that idea. Let the child help shift and structure the practice and you might learn something too! Go with the flow!
Playing yoga games is a fun way to introduce yoga:
Get outside and explore nature! Create poses to mimic the items you encounter (tree, rock, bug, bird, dog, etc.).
Try “Simon Says” using yoga poses.
Work on breath control by sitting in a circle (if in a group) or across from each other (if only two of you) and blow a balloon back and forth to each other.
There are many books and songs that work brilliantly for incorporating yoga:
The song “Old MacDonald” can be sung while doing yoga poses for the animals (Downward dog for “dog”, Frog pose for “frog”, Cow pose for “cow”, etc.).
“My Daddy is a Pretzel” is an adorable book by Baron Baptiste that takes children through a story incorporating yoga poses and really gets kids intrigued and involved! (Available at Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1PqfrJs.)
Attempt yoga art:
Make family mandalas at home, letting each member create a section or part of the design! Idea for how-to here: http://backyardkidsyoga.com/blog/familymandalaactivity.
Have kids draw themselves in a yoga pose and then demonstrate the pose.
Your local yoga studio or yoga instructor friend may offer classes or workshops for children or families too!
Other great resources include:
Backyard Yoga: A blog and yoga teaching tools:http://backyardkidsyoga.com/
Online kids’ yoga classes and downloads: http://bit.ly/1W0eqOT