People often associate yoga with adults, thinking that yoga requires difficult techniques that are too much for children. But do you know, toddlers can do well in yoga?
For families with yoga-exercising parents, helping your children learning yoga can be a wonderful experience. So, how to teach toddlers yoga?
1. Let yoga be a fun game
First of all, you need to remind ourselves that no kid will sit attentively and practice breathing silently with you. To teach toddlers yoga efficiently, it must be fun.
You should try to be creative in making yoga moves interesting by either simplifying them or add a humorous touch. If your kids giggling while following your instructions, you have got it right.
2. Use yoga books for children
Yoga books for children can be a good start. There are a lot of yoga books teaching children with lively images and funny steps.
The approach of these books is suitable for teaching toddlers and can give useful instructions to parents. They are available in ebook form, paper, and hardcover – a wide selection to choose from.
Some of the recommendations are
- Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Wake Up Story by Mariam Gates is a book for morning exercise yoga with children. In this book, there will be plenty of poses explained in rhyming, simple and funny ways.
- Little Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga by Rebecca Whitford. This book compiles nine yoga poses for toddlers, all displayed in a straightforward and easy-to-understand manner. The animal illustration is also an interesting touch to encourage children.
- The Grateful Giraffe: A Kids Yoga Feelings Book by Giselle Shardlow is an animal-associated book for young yogis. There are a lot of yoga poses included in it, with animal representatives. The parent guide of this book will also help with teaching.
3. Let the kids design their yoga routine
To create excitement, young yogis should be allowed to make a yoga space according to their wishes. They can choose their yoga mat, background music and the poses in the session.
An aromatic candle lit up can also light up the mood and make the little yogis eager to engage. This will give a special meaning to yoga, and let the kids feel comfortable with exercising it.
When they have their routine, children will be looking forward to yoga sessions.
4. Use animal-resemblance yoga poses
To make things fun, why don’t we try to copy the moves of animals? Like in the Kungfu Panda Movie, the Kung fu poses are described with animal mascots, making it more appealing to children.
Parents can bring along stuffed animals when teaching yoga poses. By combining these mascots and instructions, the session will be light-hearted and full of laughter.
For example, some yoga poses resemble the walk of the bear, stretching up of the giraffe, and crawling of a tiger. Keep repeating these postures, and gradually the kids will learn the moves.
Parents can find animal yoga poses online or in yoga books for toddlers. You can also explore more suitable poses for young yogis at Yoga Journal.
5. Let the kids have real experience
As said before, using animal moves to teach yoga is a popular method. However, not every young yogi can figure out every move of the animals.
If parents want to use the animal representative trick, let the kids go on a field trip to the zoo.
In the zoo, you can show your toddlers the actual thing – how these animals move. It is quite interesting to watch, and the children will get a better idea about the moves.
6. Teach toddlers to control their breathing
A fundamental part of yoga practice is breathing. This can be a simple task for adults, but for children, it can be a challenge.
The reason is that the kid’s breath is often short and irregular. Besides, they tend to lose focus quickly, so proper control of breath is hard.
Therefore, before teaching yoga, parents can teach toddlers how to breathe properly first. Encourage your child to relax and take a deep breath in a yoga session and even in daily life.
You can teach them how to inhale and exhale by counting to three, or let them smell flowers or food. Belly breathing technique is also a good way for them to learn how to breathe healthily.
Good breath control will help the child to manage their emotions, releasing stress and negative feelings. This will be useful in the long term when they grow up.
To understand more about breathing in toddler yoga, parents can find out more in online articles and yoga books.
7. Have a meditation session together
A good way to practice yoga is meditation. It may sound hard to get the kids to sit down quietly for a long time, but it is not possible.
Indeed, toddlers cannot meditate for hours and in lotus posture like grown-ups. Parents have to try another way.
You can ask them to sit on your lap, close their eyes and practicing breath control. It may last 5 minutes, but it is good enough.
You can also try to introduce the sync game to your toddlers. Ask them to listen to your breath and try to sync theirs to yours. It would be a good method to get the kids to stay still.
8. Use the media
One of the fastest ways to get toddlers to understand and interested in yoga is by watching yoga sessions. You can find toddler yoga videos on Youtube or other platforms.
These videos can include poses with detail steps, making the yoga session easier to teach and learn. Or the funny image of the illustrations will make the kids more into yoga.
For kids who would like to have fun, yoga practice with animals videos will be suitable. Or if parents want to have better explanations for toddler yoga poses, you can watch the videos with detailed steps.
Another method is playing the video while practicing. The visual instructions are easier to understand and follow for kids.
Some videos provide nursery rhymes for young yogis. Singing along will help them to remember the moves faster and for a long time.
9. Have time to relax with your children
Remember that toddlers are not mini-adults. They get tired quickly and have trouble with body coordination.
Therefore, you should have a suitable plan for yoga practice and breaks in-between. The best way is to let the kids decide.
Having short breaks in-between will help them to relax and recover their energy. The tiring session will discourage toddlers a lot.
For the end of the yoga exercise, parents and kids can do the Resting Pose, also known as Shavasana. You can focus on relaxing, releasing all the stress from your mind and syncing your breaths together.
10. Yoga practice in daily life
Teaching toddlers yoga should not stop inside some hours a day. It should be a part of family life.
Let’s the child practice yoga whenever it is possible. You can do it inside the car, on the way to the shopping mall, or outside the doctor’s office, waiting for a check-up.
Even only practicing breathing, or vaguely doing some simple poses is great. The important point is that yoga will gradually become a routine of your kids.
The waiting time can be boring. But a bit of yoga can bring little happiness to our little ones.
11. Have a flexible plan
It is a fact that you can force your toddlers in a fixed schedule of yoga practice. The children are more spontaneous and can change their minds quickly.
Having a neat plan for teaching kids yoga will help things go smoother. However, there are bound to be unavoidable events that will disrupt your plan.
Or simply, your kids want to have a fresh change. The thing is, it is inevitable and insisting on keeping the original plan may not work well.
The key is to go with the flow. Minor changes can have a great effect.
For example, you planned to learn the giraffe pose today, but your kids want to crawl like a tiger. No problem, the giraffe can wait, and let’s crawl with your kids today.
12. Be patient
Teaching small kids always need patience. Don’t set a high expectation for your kids at first. It is better with no expectations at the start.
The best things for parents to do are taking baby steps with them and watch them grow. Yoga is a difficult practice and requires tons of effort and time to master.
Parents should not be disappointed if things do not go well. You can always change the plan, or encourage your toddlers to try again.
Yoga practice is about joyful, calming and balanced ways of living. If well-taught at an early age, it will contribute to a happy life later on.
Teaching kids yoga is also a way for parents to foster a healthy life and tighten the bonds among family members. So, are your toddlers ready to roll the yoga mat?