My name is Emily and I am both a Music Class teacher and a registered yoga teacher! Yoga is such an important part of my life, so it brings me a lot of joy to see how the young children in my Music Classes do yoga spontaneously! The babies in class roll around on their backs in a pose aptly named "happy baby", and the toddlers love to take a few steps then flop into downward facing dog! If you've noticed that your child is unknowingly trying some yoga or if you love yoga and want to introduce it to your kiddo - this post is for you.
Doing yoga as a family can be a great way to build a foundation of mindful living. Yoga allows you to introduce your child to joyful movement and calming breathing techniques. But it can be tricky to know just what poses and breathing exercises will engage and inspire your little one. I know this firsthand - I can't simply take flows I teach to adults and teach them to children. (In fact, I invented a whole yoga curriculum for parents/children that incorporates the music of TMC and trust me - it's NOT AT ALL like what I teach to adults, lol.)
So I thought for my next few blog posts I could share some poses that you can do with your child at home that are easy and most importantly, FUN! This post will outline some great postures for 2 – 4 year-olds. Don't worry if you've got a younger child, I'll also do posts for yoga with babies and yoga with toddlers.
Now let's do it! You don't need any fancy props or pants to these poses - just some open space in your house and a smile :) Start by telling your child that you're about to do some yoga and ask them to follow what you do!
1. Cat/Cow (Marjaiasana/Bitilasana)
Come onto all fours with your hands under shoulders and your knees under hips. Begin with a neutral spine with the crown of the head reaching long. To move into cow pose, lift the crown of the head and the tailbone, dropping the belly down and say, “Mooo!” Ask your preschooler if they can guess what animal this pose is! If they're like the kids in my yoga classes, they might want to stay in this pose and moo several times. Next to move into cat pose by tucking the chin to your chest and rounding through the back. Think scared Halloween cat. Once you're in the pose let out a big, “Meow!” Ask your child what pose this might be. Move back and forth between these poses, saying “Moo” and “Meow” as you go! Sometimes I like to get silly here and move back and forth with the animal sounds very quickly!
2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
From your tabletop position, tuck the toes underneath you, then lift your hips up and back lowering the heels to the ground. Make sure to reach your chest back to the thighs. Make some doggy noises, and ask if your child can guess the name of this pose. You can take your dog “for a walk” by bending into one leg as you straighten out the other. Look up at your hands, and make sure the fingers are spread out really wide. To help your child visualize this, ask them to make their hands look like a starfish.
3. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Now it's time to balance. Stand up and lift one foot off the ground. Place that foot on your standing ankle with the toes on the ground, like a kickstand of a bike. Try to balance like that, then maybe "grow your branches" by reaching your arms up high. I have found that it can be helpful to hold one of your child's hands in this pose if they are struggling to balance on their own.
Bonus here: The kids in my class LOVE when we fall down from this pose. To try it yourself, sway back and pretend the wind is blowing and that it's about to knock you down. Sway and sway and then finally fall over with a dramatic flop before popping back up and trying it again.
4. Star/Goddess (Utthita Tadasana/Utkata Konasana)
To find star pose, stand with your legs out very wide and your toes pointed outward. Reach your arms out high in a wide "v" shape. Then bend your knees over your toes, sit your hips down and bring your hands to your heart for goddess pose. Like cat/cow, these poses are fun to move back and forth between. Reach up for star, then bend your knees into goddess, repeating the movement several times.
5. Yogi Squat (Malasana)
Stand with your feet out wide, but not as wide as they were for star pose. Make sure your toes are still facing outward. Sit your hips down really low - as low as they'll go without your heels lifting away from the ground. Bring your hands to your heart and bounce your hips up and down saying, "Ribbit" as you go. Ask your child to guess what animal you are! We call this one froggy pose. Frogs hop, so obviously we need to hop now too. Bounce up and down a few times in the squat then count off before hopping into the air. Try this several times and ask your child to hop higher each time!
I hope this post has inspired you to try yoga at home with your child. If you are in the metro-ATL area and want to try it out in an actual class, click here for information on our Family Yoga program! I'll be back again with posts on baby and toddler yoga, but until then thanks for reading and namaste!