Yoga and Mindfulness for children and Teens.
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:
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