The benefits of yoga are endless. It’s able to cover cardio if you do enough Sun Salutations while practicing your breathing. It covers strength training because you use your own body weight as resistance. But best of all are the relaxation benefits for old and young alike.
Learning yoga is not hard and you can find more than 28,000 yoga videos online to get you started. Not surprisingly, once you’ve learned the many benefits, you’ll be convinced it’s the perfect activity for your child!
So, how do you get them started?
The most effective way to get kids involved is to lead by example. Grab that yoga mat and video and get started. Kids have a natural curiosity and if you make it look fun, they will want to join in.
Younger kids in particular will fancy joining you if you make the many sounds of the animal poses you are contorting into. Maybe you do a little meowing and mooing with your “cat/cow” pose. Or perhaps you hiss with your “snake.” Kids can pick things up quickly when it’s relatable to something they already enjoy, like animals.
In the beginning don’t worry too much about making their poses perfect. They can master that as they get older – just make sure you are doing it safely.
Another fun way to get them on the mat is if they can make up their own poses and pick a name for them. Again, it’s less about perfection and more about participating.
Once they get the hang of it, you can create some other games like a version of “Simon Says” where you call out the pose without demonstrating it and see if they can remember. Praise them for the ones they remember and show them the ones they forget. There need not be any “losing” at this game. One of the many benefits I love is that it’s not a competition.
As children get a little older, they can choose the video of the day, the order of poses, or the pace of movements. If you have more than one child, you can allow the older children to help teach and guide the younger children, which will help them stay engaged.
With teenagers, they learn rather fast, that this exercise helps them center themselves and overcome the strong emotions that come along with being a teen. Don’t be surprised if you soon catch them doing it on their own.
My favorite idea though is the one that I use for bedtime. If you have ever had the “oh-so-fun” experience of trying to get a wound up kid to bed, you will love this! By using this idea daily, you can ensure a falling-asleep-fast ritual that works.
Rather than the traditional story telling at bedtime, we “act out” our bedtime stories with yoga poses. The stories start out moving through poses at a rapid pace. This helps to both get them engaged and burning off any unwanted nighttime energy. Within a couple minutes, the story then progresses to a slower and calmer pace with a slightly longer time between changing poses.
Depending on the energy level of the child, you can change the pace a few times, toggling between the more rapid and moderate pace to ensure you work out all of that energy.
Towards the end of the story, the poses are held longer and contain more poses that require lying on the mat versus standing or sitting poses. In the end, it’s simple laying-on the-mat meditation that lends well to a bed time transition. Be sure to have all the good-night activities out of the way, like bath-time, snack, brushing teeth, going to the bathroom, so you can move directly from mat to bed and kiss them good night.
Aaron is a sleep enthusiast at Snooze EZ. He blogs and researches about all things that are sleep related due to personally knowing the benefits of getting enough sleep. If he was not writing about it so much, he might could get even more!