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Teaching Kids to Relax

“When is sleepy time? Is it sleepy time yet13093517533_8a98b5f2b7_z?” At least one child asks me this question every Yoga class!

Savasana is a special part of Yoga that the kids LOVE! They can let go of all their worries and just be. Yoga class is the rare time of day some children have to just relax and be still. Surprisingly for some parents, the most active kids can be the stillest during this time. After class, sometimes parents ask me how it is possible for kids to relax and settle so quickly during savasana. I love explaining to them how it is very much possible and something they can try at home!

At the end of every class, I mention to the kids that after all our fun and active poses, we are moving towards the relaxation part of class. We have such busy lives and sometimes we don’t stop and just relax. We twist to both sides and slowly dim the lights. The children squeeze their whole body: fingers, toes, legs, face. Then they release into a comfortable resting position.. This resting position is savasana, or ultimate relaxation.

Once the children find a comfortable resting position, I turn on relaxing music and read them a savasana story, or guided visualization, in a calm and soothing voice. Each story involves the relaxation of each body part one by one. We inhale slowly and exhale slowly three times before we go on our imaginary journey. We travel to our Secret Garden, a special place each child creates in their imagination. Their garden can be anyplace they’d like – the beach, on a mountain, their Grandma’s backyard. They can decorate their Secret Garden however they’d like. Then they imagine they are resting in their specially chosen garden, enjoying the quiet. On our journey, our bodies feel heavy, calm, and peaceful. After our journey is complete, I integrate affirmations.9733843719_b41fcd3942_z

Through my experience in teaching Yoga to children, I have learned some effective ways to help a child with the transition from activity and energy to a quiet, settling  savasana.

Here are my top 4 ways to help a child with savasana:

1. Read a relaxation story.
Guided visualizations help children ease into calmness and provide guidance. One of my favorite books is Imaginations: Fun Relaxation Stories and Meditations for Kids by Carolyn Clarke. Children can use their imaginations to feel like a cloud, explore a treehouse, or fly like a butterfly.

2. Allow them to find their own resting pose.
Instead of strongly encouraging starfish pose (laying on their back, arms and legs spread), I allow the kids to chose which position is the most comfortable to them. Maybe they prefer lying on a side, squeezing a teddy bear, or holding hands with a friend! Whatever way is the most comfortable for each child is ideal.

3. Play relaxing music.
Integrating relaxing music enhances the feeling of calmness almost instantly. Based on the energy of the room and the relaxation story I read, I choose a fitting playlist. For instance, if we’re floating on a cloud, I prefer mellow quiet music that allows the child to explore their imagination as they relax!

4. Use aromatherapy.
Sometimes I integrate aromatherapy into the relaxation, especially lavender. Lavender enhances the relaxation and the kids report loving the smell too!

imageI believe that savasana is one of the most important parts of our Yoga practice. I know many of the children agree! You can see it on their faces when they slowly wake up with a big smile. Try these tips at home and notice the difference a little relaxation makes in your child’s life!


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