Yoga For Children

Guest Authored By Heather Fite, M.S., OTR/L

Yoga is not just for the woman in yoga pants or for the person who can do a headstand. It’s good for everyone, especially children! Yoga works not only on one’s body but on one’s mind, as well. There are many benefits to encouraging your child to participate in yoga. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Increasing sensory regulation
  • Increasing body awareness
  • Decreasing stress and anxiety
  • Increasing postural control and balance
  • Increasing strength and endurance
  • Increasing motor planning skills
  • Decreasing fatigue and insomnia
  • Increasing full body coordination
  • Increasing breath support
  • Increasing G.I. health

Nowadays we have to be creative to get children to want to participate in activities that do not include television or screen time. There are different ways to encourage your child to engage in yoga. Some of these activities include:

  • Yoga Pretzels – This is a set of cards that have different poses on each card with descriptions of how to complete each pose. There are single person and group poses, yoga games, and different breathing activities that children can choose from and engage in.
  • Yoga Gorilla – This is also a set of cards, which shows a gorilla completing different yoga poses.
  • Super Stretch – This is a free iPad app, which has multiple different poses for a child to choose from. Once the child chooses the pose, there is a cartoon explaining the pose and a child completing the pose for them to mirror.

Breathing is also a big component of yoga, pairing movement with breath to help increase peace of mind and body awareness. Breathing connects to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for slowing the body down and allows for a state of calm. For some children, breathing alone is difficult enough. Working solely on breathing can be beneficial before working on breathing paired with movement. Some ways to work on breathing include:

  • Animal Breaths – Making one’s breath sound like different animals such as a bee, snake, bunny, or bear can help a child learn how to breath deeper and at a slower pace.
  • Bubbles – Having a child blow bubbles; making them come out fast or slow or trying to make them bigger by having more control of their breath. If a child is unable to blow the bubbles through the wand, then have them blow them off of the wand instead.
  • Feathers – Have the child practice slow breaths out, as compared to fast breaths out, to gain more awareness of breath and the control they have over it.

Yoga can be done anywhere: on the floor, in a chair, at home, at school. It can be done at any time of day to help the body energize, reorganize, or calm down, depending on the poses that are completed. Yoga is is also more fun with a partner. Your child will be more willing to participate in a variety of poses and complete yoga more frequently when they have someone to do it with. So, join your child or, if you have more than one child, encourage them to do it together. The more the merrier!