There are many different ways to do yoga with children. Let me tell you about a few of my favourites:
- Buy a colourful yoga mat for your child (from MiniYOGI!). Practice yoga at home, unroll the extra mat beside you and place a small toy or a book on the mat. Invite your child to join you to practice yoga or just let her sit and play beside you. Movement is contagious. I can’t imagine your child not joining you when you do an Upside Down Bug, a Cat or a Down Dog pose.
Keep your practice simple and playful. Add sounds, songs, laughter and partner poses.
- Experiment with different locations such as the living room, balcony, or a backyard. Bring your mat to the local park, read an animal book, observe the animals, birds, fish, do a yoga practice imitating the animals and then have a picnic. It’s an inexpensive and relaxing mini family retreat.
- Take your yoga practice to the beach. Sitting poses in the sand are a lot of fun, but wait until you try balancing poses in the water! Don’t forget a floating Relaxed Man Pose on the surface of the water (instead of Dead Man Pose). To have an easier time with this and relax even more, wear a life safety vest or use water noodles.
- What if it rains? No worries! Organize an artist’s workshop. Print some free colouring mandalas and colour them together. This activity is my favourite in the summer. I introduced it to my kids many years ago and we’ve been doing it at least once every summer. As a matter of fact, I’m planning to do it this summer with my daughters, who now are university students. Watercolour pencil crayons are great to use to give your mandalas a unique look. Draw people and animals in yoga poses and create different backgrounds. Be very adventurous! How about yoga in Jurassic Park, in the Frozen castle or a Star Wars ship?
- Yoga craft! There are many great ideas: make a stress ball (balloon filled with flour), bend pipe cleaners in yoga poses, paint rocks with inspirational words or messages on them. These are just a few ideas.
- Are you expecting visitors this summer? Invite them to a yoga dance. To make it fun for kids and adults, provide different props such as scarves, hats, feathers, flower garlands and other inexpensive things from the dollar store. Teach one easy yoga pose to every participant, think of a way to do it dynamically and then move in a circle and enjoy.
- Travelling in the car or on a plane is an amazing opportunity to do yoga! Don’t be shy to stand up and do your simple stretches in the aisle. You can also do a lot in your seat. Children love imitating the animals, reaching to the sky and touching the earth, all kinds of bending, twisting and stretching will do as long as you don’t kick the back of the seat in front of you. It’s all good as long as you can move around and release some energy. Do the same in the car, just don’t distract the driver!
- Get a bit more serious with the older children. One day, wake up early, just before the sunrise, go outside where you can see the sun, and as the sun is coming up do Sun Salutations. You can make it really exciting and special by going to the park, the river, a lakeshore or climbing a small mountain, depending on where you live.
After completing eight, twelve, or more sun salutes, continue with a yoga practice or sit down and do a short meditation. You can say a prayer, sing a song or tell an inspirational story. It will depend on your family traditions, and what you want to cultivate in your relationship with your children.
- This summer, take the opportunity to relax. Do yogic sleep (Yoga Nidra) with children. You can do it anytime of the day. Personally, I love to do it in the second half of the day, preferably before dinner, when I am already a bit tired and need a boost to continue with my daily activities.
Kids might enjoy doing it before their afternoon nap or before going to bed at night. Some people are able to transition very smoothly from yogic sleep to their night sleep. All you need to do is lay down in a comfortable position and relax. There are many apps and recordings you can use to help yourself relax. Invest a little bit of time researching what’s available and pick what suits you best.
- Finally, the easiest and most fun way to do yoga with kids is to play yoga games. I do it with my students all the time. Through games, you can teach yoga poses, cooperation, self-regulation and many other useful life skills. Most of all it’s active, engaging and FUN, FUN, FUN!