Yoga and Mindfulness for children.
Yoga games your children will love!
The memories of practicing yoga together when they were young will flood your heart with warmth and gratitude.
It's a reminder that the little moments we spend together as a family can have a profound impact on shaping the future.
Practicing yoga together as a family can be incredibly powerful. It's a great way to bond and spend quality time together. Not to mention, it's a space for open communication, trust-building, and shared experiences of mindfulness, relaxation and fun.
Fun is what I want to talk about today.
In this post I will share the importance of fun, plus 3 yoga games your children will love. These games are ones that you can play at home or for the yoga teachers reading - ones you can play in class.
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The importance of fun
As both adults and children, we all need a little fun in our lives. Incorporating fun into our daily routines has many benefits. It can make us happy, healthy, and even produce endorphins! When it comes to learning, having fun is much safer than a fearful environment. It helps us release stress, explore our emotions, and communicate with others. Plus, having fun with others teaches us mutual respect and helps us to build deeper connections. So why not join us and let's have some fun with some yoga games for children!
Yoga games your children will love!
I asked my children which games were their favourite ones to play at home and this one was number one. It is such a simple one and honestly, sometimes I forget about it because it is so simple but sometimes simple games are the best ones.
How to play:
'Yogi' says an instruction and then the child or group do as Yogi says. If the instruction is given without ‘Yogi says’ at the beginning the children should not do the task. If they do, they must stand in mountain pose for three breaths before joining back in. I will usually start as 'Yogi' and then give my children a turn each.
Here are some suggestions for what Yogi can say....
This game requires either some yoga cards or you can draw up your own poses (even stick people will work). You will need about 6 cards. You can always increase or decrease this as you think best.
If working with a deck of cards, I will either pick some out that we are working on that day/week or have the children pick out the cards.
Once we have our cards, we place them in front of us (or in the middle when working in our circle with larger groups). We take a moment to look at the different poses. Then the children must look away or close their eyes while I take and hide one card. They must work out which card is missing and then instead of telling me, they show me the pose.
We play a couple of rounds and then I let them have a turn of hiding a card.
This one was always a class favourite when I played it as 1,2,3 Tree but when I added in the element of a grumpy neighbour, it got even more giggles. While this one works best in large groups I have managed to play it with even just one of my children at a time.
How to play:
I will stand at one end of the room while the children stand on the other side. When my back is turned they can move towards me. If I am looking at them, they must stand in tree pose. We usually use the version of toes on the ground or a low tree (foot between ankle and knee). The aim is for them to get all the way to the other side and tap me on the shoulder, without getting caught moving!
How I add the grumpy neighbour element is just by having this character really not wanting children in their garden , they only want to see trees. It can be really funny to play into this grumpy character, inspecting the trees to make sure they aren't actually children. I also love seeing the children take on this roll too. The playfulness really adds to the fun!
There we have it! In this blog post we have spoke about the importance of fun and 3 games that will help you and your children to have more fun with yoga!
Which game will you be playing? Let me know in the comments!
Other posts of interest:
5 Poses to connect with your child on a deeper level
It's a feeling of being lost in the chaos of daily life, desperately searching for a way out.
The good news is that there is a way out. It just takes some going back to basics, uncomplicating life and focusing on the here and now. If we allow ourselves to rest and have fun and play, even when the house is a mess, even when there is loads to do, we can come out of this rut of feeling disconnected and overwhelmed. I have not found the secret to keeping a tidy home with young children, but I have found a way to feel connected with my children, have fun with them and care for our well-being - even when life feels chaotic and there is so much to do!
I want to share 5 of our favourite poses to practice together for more connection and quality time together. Let me know which ones you'll be practicing together!
When we do poses together, it's like a team-building activity. We learn how to be gentle, kind, and respectful to each other. We even learn how to communicate and work together better, not just with words but non-verbally too.
Caution: Practicing yoga can be a beneficial addition to one's physical and mental health routine. However, it is important to note that practicing yoga carries risks and individuals should obtain consent from their doctor before beginning any new physical activity if they are unsure of anything. The liability for any injuries incurred during yoga practice lies solely with the individual practicing or the adult caring for minors. It is important to listen to your own body and not push beyond your limits.
In this video I explain a little more about how to practice each pose. I'm not demonstrating the poses - only talking about them. Take a look: here.
Pose One: The Paddle Boat
To make a paddle boat lay down on your backs, joining your feet together. Press your feet together so that as you push your foot forward, their foot that is connecting to yours, moves back. All the while your other foot is moving back as their connecting foot pushes forward. Keep peddling!
Pose Two: The Strong Tree
Stand side by side with your child and hug each other around the waist or shoulders. Lift one foot and rest it on your calf, thigh or toes on the ground with your heel resting on your opposite ankle. Join your free hand with theirs, pressing flat, open palms together. Breathe here for 3 to 5 breaths. When you're ready, switch to the other leg. Can you do it with your eyes closed? You got this!
Pose Three: The Cheeky Monkey
The parent/adult stands strong, focusing on grounding their feet in to the earth. The adult and child hold onto each others forearm/ wrist area. This allows for a greater grip than just holding hands. The child then starts to walk up the adults body until they are hanging upside down like a monkey. To get out of this pose your child can wrap their legs around your waist as pull them up for a hug. This can a tricky one to get in and out of so really just listen to your own bodies, play with the pose and make it work for you. Never do anything that doesn't feel safe for you or your child.
Pose Four - The Ladder
The adult lays down and has their hands up in front of them ready to support the child's ankles. The child brings their hands either side of the adults ankles and then lifts their legs one at a time and places them into the adult's hands. Child then holds a strong plank pose. Why it is called a ladder is because you can keep building onto this pose but I'd recommend only doing that in the guidance of a class with people their to act as spotters/catchers.
Pose Five - Lizard on a rock
The adult comes into a child's pose, a version that is comfortable to them. It could be knees together, knees wide or supported with a bolster. The child then sits on the adults lower back and then slowly leans back into a laying position. It could definitely help to have another pair of hands to help guide this one, especially in the beginning.
There we have it!
5 Poses you can practice with your child for deeper connection. Just remember to focus on being together, communicating and playing around with these poses. Ask them what they would call the pose or if they have any ideas as an alternative. You could also try creating a story with these poses! For example, peddling the boat out to a desert island, finding a strong tree with a cheeky monkey. Having to climb a ladder to get the monkey a banana. Then having a rest in the lizard on a rock pose - You could call it sunbathing pose- at the end; Or maybe seeing a lizard on a rock and then coming into that pose. There are so many possibilities, try them in a different order even.
Comment below if you and your child make up any fun stories using these poses, I want to hear them!
More resources of interest
The Power of Movement: Our Family's Yoga Adventure
Hi there fellow parent! Do you ever feel like life is moving a million miles an hour and you just can't keep up? Well, our family found a solution that not only helps us slow down, but also brings us closer together - yoga!
In this blog post, you'll learn:
The benefits of practicing yoga as a family
Practicing yoga as a family provides numerous benefits, such as enhancing the connection between family members, promoting self-care, improving overall well-being, and creating quality time together. Practicing together helps build trust and communication between family members, creating a strong sense of unity. Yoga also encourages self-care practices, such as mindfulness and stress reduction techniques, that can benefit both adults and children. Additionally, practicing yoga as a family can improve physical health, flexibility, and balance, leading to a healthier and more active lifestyle. Finally, it provides an opportunity to be really present together, allowing families to bond over a shared activity and create lasting memories.
Tips for practicing yoga with kids of different ages
Practicing yoga with children of different ages looks different for each age group, here I will share a few things to keep in mind when practicing with different age groups and then a few tips for practicing together with multiple children from different age groups.
Ages 3 to 6
I often hear that this age group can not possibly do yoga because they are just so full of energy! They absolutely can though, and they even enjoy the relaxing at the end! The trick is not to supress their energy, but use it! Be fun, be playful, use their imaginations to take you on journeys, pretend to be animals, make up stories with them and use props to help keep things visual and fun. This age group gets very easily distracted and you do find yourself moving very quickly from one thing to the next, Finding creative ways to hold their attention is key, such as playing with themes that really interest them, having a variety of games, and using visuals such as yoga cards for pose practice. Breathing practices often include 'smelling' and 'blowing'. Such as pretending to smell flowers, blowing on their imaginary hot chocolates or blowing pom poms across their mat.
Ages 7 to 9
While this age group love to have fun and play games, they also like classes with a concept. They can start looking deeper at themes such as friendship, compassion and self-care, They start to go more into alignment of poses and focusing on their breath during practice. They can start to practice abdomen breathing and learn about how different breathing practices can help them in their life off the mat. They may love practicing partner poses and working with sequences rather than just a pose at a time. You can also teach more on variations of poses and using yoga props to help support them in their practice, focusing more on how each pose makes the feel. Still keep the games and the fun but it doesn't have to be quite so silly.....not all the time anyway!
Ages 10 to 12
Tweens have so much going on with hormone changes, school and social pressure, after-school activities and they may be thinking more about their body image. This age it is really important to follow their lead. What do they need to help them right now? Do they need an energizing practice or do they need a calming practice, maybe a mix of both? Do check ins where they can bring awareness to how they are feeling and their own energy levels. When practicing energizing practices be sure to do a good warm up and cool down. Teach them the why- why is this pose good for us? Why is this breathing practice helpful and when could they use it? Bring focus to self-love and self-care so that they can start to prioritize their well-being and build a positive body image. Practice poses that are challenging and require the children to trust themselves, show them ways that they can modify poses and fun transitions from one pose to another.
Relaxation is one of the most important things to teach this age group. They have so much going on and their minds can get so busy. It is important not to talk down on teenagers, I mean you shouldn't talk down on anyone but I guess I mean, talk to them as you would an adult in some regards because they often feel like they are that grown up and need to see that you respect them and are listening to them. You can practice challenging poses, longer sequences and talk about different muscle groups in each pose. You can have fun with games and partner poses still, it doesn't have to be all serious, in fact some teenagers would find it boring to just focus on the serious side, so you can still make it fun and find ways that engage your teens attention.
Practicing with your children who are in different age groups
The tips above can be used when practicing one to one, and can be taken into account when practicing with multiple children. Sometimes it will work better to practice one to one with your child - for instance if you have a teenager and a 3 year old. Finding an in-between there can be very difficult and the only way you'd be able to practice together would be very much led by what the 3 year old needs in the practice. If you have children that are closer in age such as tweens and teens or a 5 year old and an 8 year old, you can more easily meet in the middle. Younger children can often join in with the older practices with some guidance and older siblings can act as 'helpers' from time to time too. The main focus in family yoga is the interaction, being together and enjoying this beautiful practice. Fun and laughter is a great way to release stress and strengthen bonds, so get playful and enjoy!
How yoga has strengthened our family bond and improved our overall well-being
Yoga has been a game-changer for our family! My two kids, who usually can't sit still for more than five minutes, have been able to enjoy the practice including the relaxation elements. We practice together every week, and it has helped us to manage stress and conflicts in a way that brings us closer together. It's amazing how taking a few deep breaths and moving our bodies can reset our moods and attitudes. And let's be real, as parents, we need all the help we can get in that department! We've got our own yoga routines that incorporate fun games, pose practice and challenges that make us all laugh. We like to keep things fresh each week but also have some family favourites when it comes to games and activities. I can see how yoga is helping my children navigate big emotions and this is important. My 5 year old punched his toast of his plate today because the butter hadn't melted properly.... it's times like this we have to re-visit what we have practiced on the mat. It's a great way to bond and connect, and I highly recommend it to any other parents looking for a fun way to improve their family's well-being.
Three fun poses to practice with your family
The younger ones love this pose! Sit down in a cross legged position and then take your right foot in your left hand, with your right hand cradling the knee area and rock your little leg baby side to side. You can get really silly with this cuing at the baby or giving baby a kiss. And oh look, there's another baby! Switch sides to give that leg baby some attention.
This pose is a good hip opener that can help with flexibility and releasing tension from the lower back.
Slide pose other wise known as reverse plank or upward plank pose is one that works great if you have a ball as a prop. To encourage children to hold the pose longer you see how many times you can roll the ball down the slide!
To come into slide pose, first sit down with your legs in front of you. Place your hands a little behind your hips, with fingers pointing towards your toes. Breathe in as you lift your hips up as high as you can, tuck your chin in towards your chest or if it feels good to, you can bring your head back. Stay for 3 to 5 breaths (or seeing how many times someone else can roll the ball down, just don't forget to breathe too). Then lower back down on the exhale.
This pose is great for physical strength especially arms, core, legs and back. It stretches out the front of the shoulders, the chest and the front of the ankles.
This pose is a challenging pose that can also lead up to more challenging poses so it is a great one to play with for older children. Egg cup pose is preparation for a tripod headstand. This pose should be avoided if child has asthma, ear or eye infections, neck/shoulder/elbow/wrist/knee or hip discomfort. As always with this practice, it's very important for each individual to listen to themselves and what feels good for their body.
To come into this pose, first start on your hands and knees. Bring the crown of your head on the mat and place your hands on the earth below your head to make a triangle shape (your head and two hands forming the triangle).Find your balance here and then lift your hips up as if you were going into downward facing dog. Think of your bent elbows forming a kind of shelf. Walk your feet towards yourself and then bend one leg and place it on your 'shelf' - the elbow at the same side as your leg. Now bring the other leg on to your other elbow. Breathe here.
To summarise, we have looked at some of the top benefits of practicing yoga with your child, how to practice with children of different ages, how yoga has helped my family plus 3 fun poses you can practice with your family this week.
Looking for more support on your family yoga journey?
Check out my upcoming Masterclass - Promoting Children's Well-being with Yoga and Mindfulness. In this free masterclass you will learn:
Other posts of interest
Sibling rivalry? Not with yoga! 10 reasons to practice together
I was already practicing Yoga with the children, but I decided what if I really focused on using this practice to strengthen their connection, fill their emotional cup and help them communicate with each other better? Honestly, anything was worth a try and I was so happy when the plan I put together started to work! Instead of being a referee I was able to see them enjoying time together, working together as a team, and playing together nicely in a way that worked for their age gap. And like I always say - what we practice on the mat, we can bring off the mat.
In this post I will share 10 reasons siblings should practice together plus 3 must know poses to practice together!
10 surprising benefits of Yoga for siblings!
Three poses for siblings to practice together
Practicing partner poses together is a great way for children to bond, work together as a team, communicate both verbally and non verbally, and have some fun! Try these 3 fun poses together.
Partner Boat Pose - Sit facing each other and hold hands. Place your feet together with bent knees. You may like to see if you can straighten the legs and lift them up to make a sail, or just keep them bent. You can also just practice doing one leg at a time. See how long you can hold the pose while laughing and encouraging each other.
Breathing Buddies - Sit back to back and take deep breaths together. Imagine inhaling love and exhaling calm.
Supported Camel Pose - Come down on to your knees, facing one another. Hold on to each others forearms so that you can support each other. Then start to lean away from each other from the upper body, taking your gaze up to the ceiling. Take it gently, and be sure to warm up the body before this one.
When do your children get on the best with each other?
What activities bring your children closer together? Comment below!
Other posts of interest:
All Breath Work Children's Yoga And Mindfulness Christmas Emotional Well Being Emotional Well-being Intuition Meditations Parents Play Pose Of The Week Print Outs Self Care Challenge Summer Teachers Teenagers