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Yoga & Kids (Feb. 5, 2022)

Updated: Jun 5, 2022

I know I have many parents, grandparents, and teachers who read this blog. I hope that this small bit of information can help you bring some yoga into the lives of the children around you!

I've started another session of my after-school yoga class where I work, and I wanted to share a couple of thoughts about yoga and children. The class that I am teaching right now is for K-2nd grades, some very young yogis! If you only think about an adult yoga class (especially on that focuses exclusively on asana) you may wonder how that works with children at all. Obviously, a yoga class for kids is quite different than for adults, but in a lot of ways the same work is being done: learning to focus on the present and set aside the outside world, learning how breath can affect our bodies, and learning how to be still and quiet. I thought I would share a few parts of my class that can be used in the home to build those same skills.

1. Breathwork: As I've said, I do breathing exercises with my Spanish/French classes to help them calm and focus, and there is no reason why you can't try them at home. Showing children how different breaths can achieve different goals is a game changer. For calming down, try very slow, steady breaths. You can count to 5 slowly as they inhale and then again as they exhale. For focus, try Bumblebee breath: have your child cover their ears, close their eyes, and hum on long hum as long as they can. For energy and warmth, try Handwarming breath: have your child rub their hands together (like they are trying to warm up outside) and blow 3-5 quick blows on their hands.

2. Journaling: Yep, I do journaling even with the kindergarteners who cannot yet write. It's really just about getting them to go inside and think about their feelings and thoughts a bit. Each of my yoga students has a little blank book. We take 5-10 minutes every class to journal. I put out a bunch of markers and pencils. I tell the kids they can draw or write. They might want to draw a picture of a pose we did or write down an exercise that they want to remember. They might draw or write about how they are feeling or something that is on their mind. They might even just draw a pattern, which is effectively a meditation strategy. I generally put on quiet music and have them turn away from the group on their mats so that they do not get distracting thinking about what others are doing.

3. Practice Relaxing: With my youngest kids, I don't tend to use the term savasana. Instead, we "practice relaxing." What I am trying to teach them is that taking a rest and being still doesn't mean nap time, something that many of them reject for a variety of reasons. I want them to see how good they feel after just a couple of minutes of being still. It is also a great chance to work on imagination. I often read a short visualization for them and ask them to try to see the pictures in their heads. If you have a child at home who has difficulty going to sleep, this is something you might try before bed.

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