• Karla Benzl MD

Yoga for Your Little One

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

Why yoga?

Yoga has proven physical and mental health benefits for children. It not only supports coordination, strength, and balance, but it offers emotional and cognitive benefits as well. For example, children improve focus through breath awareness during yoga. In addition, self-confidence and self-compassion improve through regular yoga practice.

How introduce yoga to your child:

As with any new subject, a child is more likely to engage if they find it fun. Likewise, connecting with family members and other kids through the activity is key. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions:

1) Lead by Example. Always lead by example when attempting to influence family members, even children! Talk about your own practice, try some poses with your child. You can also find a yoga studio that offers "parent and me" classes, or classes just for kids, depending on the age. Consider arranging a private lesson for your family, and inviting other families with children.

2) Teach about it. There are many yoga books for children on the market currently. Reading books to your child is not only a way to introduce the topic , but also a fun way to practice yoga poses together. As an added bonuses, story time is a way to connect with your child. We particularly liked Little Yoga- A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga, for ages 2-4. The yoga poses are simple, and feature cute animals. My son was definitely able to imitate a few poses early on. Also, the book is not wordy, and appropriate for an toddler’s attention span.

For older children (4-8 yrs), there are a few books by Miriam Gates. She is a well known children’s book author and has written a few books about yoga and mindfulness. Our new favorite book by this author is Dinosaur Yoga. This book is great because it brings a subject matter loved by many children, and teaches about yoga at the same time.

These books can encourage children to practice poses with the reader, however, if it doesn’t happen, that’s ok. Rest assured your child is soaking it all in. If you are looking for quality screen time, Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube is super kid friendly and fun. Check out www.cosmickids.com for myriad resources to teach your kids yoga.

3) Offer yoga props to your child. Buy a yoga mat for kids, they do sell smaller sized mats with cute prints. The child then identifies yoga as a kid friendly activity. We have enjoyed our mat by Yogi Junior. Yoga blocks can also be fun to play with.

4) Play yoga games with your child. Yes, they exist! There are always ways to make learning fun. We have enjoyed Yogi Cards for joyful learning at yogi-fun.com.

5) Advocate for yoga at school. Due to all the documented health benefits, yoga is very popular these days. If your child’s school does not offer yoga, ask the teachers about it. They can incorporate yoga into physical education, or include this as an after school care activity. Parents have influence on the school’s extracurricular activities, as teachers often appreciate suggestions from an engaged parent. You can even volunteer to teach a class.

Remember- be patient. Your child may practice yoga one moment, try a fun pose, and then run off. He or she may also want to make up his/her own pose.

Perhaps he or she will push you while you do tree pose. Consider this all a success.

If all else, fails, take the mat outside, and try adding rolly pollies to the mat!!!

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