It’s time for families to introduce yoga for kids and parents. If you’ve made yoga a part of your bedtime routine and are feeling the benefits of relaxation, why not also introduce it to your kids bedtime routine? You may notice that kids are natural yogis. They are far more flexible than most adults, and will pick up poses quite quickly. If they can follow directions or imitate your poses, introducing yoga for kids and parents to do together is a great family activity. Make it part of their bedtime routine to help #BringBackBedtime.
When kids get overtired, they can become wired. This can make it really hard for them to fall asleep, creating a cycle of sleep deprivation that’s hard to break. One of the benefits of yoga for kids is that it can help calm them down enough to sleep even when they’re overtired or overstimulated.
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Here are some easy ways to introduce yoga to your family:
- Be prepared – get kids bathed, have their teeth brushed, and get them in their pyjamas before beginning yoga practice. If they happen to fall asleep in one of the poses, you don’t want to wake them up to get them undressed. You may also find it helpful to practice in their room so that you don’t need to move them. Dim light is best. You want to be able to see each other but don’t want bright light signalling that it’s wake up time. You can use yoga mats, area rugs, or the bed as your practice areas, and you can play quiet, calming music in the background if you choose, or you can practice without any music. It’s really up to you.
- Start by introducing the concept of focusing on breathing. Have them lay back and put their hands on their diaphragm. Tell them to take a deep breath in through their nose to the count of 3, hold it for 3 seconds and breathe out slowly for 3 seconds. If they have a favourite (small) stuffed friend, they can place this above their belly and watch it rise and fall as they breathe.
As an added bonus, once the child learns this kind of breathing you can use it in any situation where you need them to calm down.
Amanda DeGrace, Founder of Little Lotus Yoga, explains that it may be tough for younger children to understand the concept of holding their breath. She suggests having them fill their body with their breath until there is no more room and then slowly exhale it out.
- A good first pose to work on is corpse pose or Savasana. Most yoga classes begin or end with this pose. It is very relaxing and people have been known to doze off in the middle of it.
Have your child lie on his back with arms at his sides, eyes closed and have him focus on his breath. You may want to pick a quiet song to listen to as you both breathe deeply. As you add new poses to your repertoire, move Savasana to the end of the practice or bookend your practice with it.
Amanda says it’s great to guide the children to be “sleeping stars” as they can relate to a star floating in the sky. Have your child lie on his/her back with their arms at their sides, eyes closed and focus on their breath. Pretend they are a sleeping star floating in the sky. Guide your child to inhale slowly through their nose and feel their entire star filling with air as they float higher in the sky. Then slowly exhale the air through their nose. Your sleeping star may also like to place their hands on their belly and feel their belly filling with air on each inhalation and then feel the air leave their belly.
- Don’t try to do too much too fast with kids. Add one new pose per week to your routine. If you aren’t sure which poses are good for kids there are some wonderful yoga resources available both online and at your local bookstore. Look for books with pictures and kid-friendly language (many children’s yoga books use animal names for poses instead of the traditional Sanskrit). Allow your children to help decide which poses they want to try.
Yoga is a fantastic relaxation tool for children and adults. By doing it together before your child’s bedtime, you are not only strengthening their mind and body, but also your connection with them.