Creating Zen: Bringing Yoga to your Home
As we enter uncharted territories, many of you are wondering how will I keep my children occupied and avoid losing my mind? I’m sure the thought of your kids being at home for days on end, perhaps with you attempting to work, is a bit daunting. But take a deep breath and know you are going to get through this. One of the overall keys to having your kids at home is to have planned activities. Yoga is a great activity to begin to incorporate into your daily routine.
Yoga is a sacred time to help us find a balance in our lives, a time to help us rejuvenate our mind and our body. Yoga helps children and adults reduce stress, relax, and find inner peace. Yoga for children is a lot like yoga for adults, but it focuses more on creativity and movement, than it does on practicing perfectly aligned poses. It is also a fun way to promote children’s development in terms of their core strength, coordination, flexibility, balance, increased body awareness, self-control, focus and concentration, and confidence. It’s a valuable tool that helps children and adults regulate their emotions and calm their bodies.
Even if your family has never tried yoga before, these circumstances provide us with a wonderful opportunity to introduce it as a means to connect with one another and promote healthy bodies and healthy minds. Below you will find a few easy to use children’s yoga activities to help get your family started:
- Bunny Breaths- Invite children to pretend to be bunnies, sniffing the air for other bunnies or food to eat. Have them take 3 quick sniffs in their nose and one long exhale out of their nose. This can also be used when children are very upset and are having a hard time catching their breath.
- Flower Breath: Imagine smelling a beautiful flower–breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, releasing any tension. Stop and smell the roses, daffodils, daisies or any other flower. This is a simple way to connect kids to their breath and how it helps them feel.
- Hissing Breath: Breathe in the nose, long deep inhale, and out the mouth with a hissing sound, slow and long. Extending the exhale will allow kids to slow down their inner speed. Connect kids to their exhale to help them learn to slow themselves down, mentally and physically.
- Print and Pose- Click here to find visuals and posters to help teach your child different yoga poses, and to find free printable posters to help them manage their big emotions. Remember, before you begin to use these strategies, it is important to introduce the idea of yoga during a time when your child is already calm. This way they have time to learn and practice the routine. For children 2 years old and younger, you might try introducing only one yoga pose at a time, while you count down from 5 (Downward Dog or Child’s Pose are easy ones to start with).
- Getting Creative- Another option is for you and your child to come up with your own yoga sequence from Giselle Shardlow’s Yoga Poses for Kids: http://www.kidsyogastories.com/kids-yoga-poses/
- Kids Yoga Videos– For fun children’s yoga videos, check out Cosmic Kids Yoga at https://www.cosmickids.com/
The easiest way to access Cosmic Kids is to subscribe to their YouTube Channel. They put all of their videos on there and it’s free! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5uIZ2KOZZeQDQo_Gsi_qbQ?sub_confirmation=1
They’ve also created a Cosmic Kids App. This has all of their videos streaming as often as you like and costs $65 per year or $10 a month. There is a 14-day free trial.
Yoga Story Time
- Books and our Bodies- Choose an age appropriate storybook that has lots of animals or objects in it, and as you read the story together, create the animals and objects in the book with your bodies. Incorporating yoga into your bedtime routine is a great way to help children relax and unwind so they are ready for bed. Here are a few book recommendations:
- Alef-Bet Yoga for Kids by Ruth Goldeen
- Babar’s Yoga for Elephants by Laurent de Brunhoff
- Where is my Mom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
- From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
- Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
- Dogi the Yogi by Maria Notarile Scrivan
Relaxation and Visualization
(Taken from the book Rainbow Kids Yoga by Gopala Amir Yaffe)
- Making Lemonade: Just before you lie down and relax at bedtime, you can pretend to make and drink some lemonade with your child. Have them sit down and hug their knees to their chest. Now, pretending their body is the lemon, have them squeeze the lemon really hard, making a super sour, smushy face and tightened body. Have your child squeeze their body into the smallest lemon and then let the lemon burst as their hands and legs fly out to the side and they roll on their back. Repeat a few times. This type of progressive muscle relaxation will help them relax various parts of their body through tightening and releasing.
- Sleepy Starfish. “Lie down on your back in the starfish pose with your legs and arms apart. Stay very still and imagine you are a sleepy starfish resting on the bottom of the ocean. Breathe in and as you breathe out, relax your arms. Breathe in and as you breathe out relax your legs, breathe in as you breathe out and relax your head. See how still you can be at the bottom of the ocean, resting like a sleepy starfish. Repeat to yourself ‘I am peaceful and quiet. I am peaceful and quiet’.”
As you prepare for this time at home with your children, yoga is a means to help us find inner peace and balance. Enjoy the time you spend engaging and connecting with one another and use yoga as a means to create calm amidst the chaos.
- Jamie Decker, Early Childhood LCPC, JCC Chicago Social Services and Certified Rainbow Kids Yoga Instructor
- Jody Benishay, Director, JCC Chicago Early Childhood at Am Shalom and Certified Kidding Around Yoga Instructor