A person who is proficient in practicing yoga is called a yogi, and kids have natural potential to be yogis. Their developing bodies are flexible, they’re used to being inverted (upside down), and they’re excited and open about trying and experiencing new things.
Many people think yoga means twisting one’s body into impossible positions, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yoga can be difficult, but it can also be quite simple. While yoga poses do have traditional Sanskrit names — which can be fun for kids to learn — they can also be described in plain terms, like “happy baby pose.” When described this way, it’s easy to see how yoga is accessible to everyone, even children.
Read on to see how yoga can be beneficial to children, learn some easy poses to do with kids, and find online resources to help get children interested in the practice.
What Is Yoga, Anyway?
In Sanskrit, the word yoga translates to “union,” signifying a coming together of the mind and the body. It means allowing all thoughts and feelings to settle and attempting to be both physically and mentally present. The yoga practice is a combination of poses, which are called asanas in Sanskrit, and breathing exercises meant to calm the body, called pranayama.
Here are a few websites that explain the basics of both poses and breathing techniques, plus a few poses that are easy and fun to teach children.
What does it mean to be a yogi?: Yogi Sadhguru explains the many facets of yoga practice, including what being a yogi means to him.
Three Yoga Breathing Exercises to Remedy Everything from Fatigue to Stress: Most people think of poses when considering yoga, but being aware of one’s breathing is also a large part of the practice.
The Yogic Encyclopedia: This glossary explains Sanskrit words and other yogic terminology.
The following simple poses are ones children will be able to learn right away:
Why Should Children Practice Yoga?
While yoga can be a serious practice for some, it can also be playful and a lot of fun. Kids and adults alike can learn a lot from practicing yoga, such as:
- How to move freely and unencumbered while being aware of their bodies.
- How to breathe deeply and be aware of how the breath makes them feel.
- How to quiet their minds from the stresses or excitement of the day.
- How to use their energy more effectively and with purpose.
- How to integrate self-care into their everyday lives and take care of their bodies.
- How to be confident in their bodies and understand, and hopefully expand, the limits of what they can do.
Growth in Kids Practicing Yoga & the Results
Approximately 1.7 million U.S. children practiced yoga in 2012, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health, and that number continues to grow.
Other studies have shown that yoga reduces anxiety in children, improves their performance at school, and raises their self-esteem. Some new research even suggests practicing yoga can help kids who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), because its calming effects reduce impulsiveness and hyperactivity while increasing their ability to focus.
More Than Just a Game: This article explains some of the ways yoga can help children focus, improve their academic ability, and teach mindfulness.
Bending Energy: This article goes into detail about the calming effects yoga can have for children who have been diagnosed with ADHD.
Yoga and Meditation with Kids: Yoga practice can reduce stress and teach kids how to live in the moment, according to this Super Healthy Kids article.
How to Get Started Practicing Yoga
One of the best ways to get children started on anything is to have them watch someone else do it, and yoga is no exception. Children are great mimickers, so teach by example. There are many excellent resources that make yoga accessible to beginners.
- Women’s Health put together this list of tips for those just getting started. These include yoga basics like what to wear and when to practice.
- Yoga with Adriene is a complete, 20-minute guided video workout for beginners.
- DOYOUYOGA offers this step-by-step guide to what they call the “10 most important yoga poses for beginners,” with pictures and descriptions of how to perform each pose.
- For anyone who would like to learn more than just the poses, this Daily Burn article explains the different types of yoga practices. s.
Online Yoga Communities
For those who don’t want to go it alone but still want to practice yoga at home, there are many online communities that offer blogs, forums, classes, and information for both new and experienced yogis.
- Your Home for Yoga offers free videos, articles, and ways to connect with other home-based yoga practitioners.
- Yoga Green Book is a membership-access site that offers a 30-day free trial geared especially toward people of color.
- oneOeight is a paid site that offers a free 10-day trial. It teaches yoga and meditation techniques as well as wellness tips and even guided retreats.
- Yogis Anonymous is an online community that has classes designed for beginners, seniors, and busy moms.
How to Get a Child Started with Yoga
There are online resources designed specifically for moms (or dads or anyone who wants to participate) who’d like to practice yoga with children.
- Cosmic Kids is a free YouTube channel dedicated solely to short lessons for children.
- Breathing is a big part of yoga, even though poses are emphasized more often. Here’s a short video focused on teaching children calming breath techniques.
- Study Break Yoga offers several videos to help kids focus, learn breathing techniques, and add poses that will help them unwind after studying.
- The Kids’ Yoga Deck: 50 Poses and Games is a fun way to get kids practicing in a way that simply seems like playing.
- The Yoga Garden Game is a cooperative game where kids practice poses (and make up their own).
How to Keep a Child Interested in Practicing Yoga
The best way to keep a child interested in yoga is to make it fun! Here are some sites that offer creative ways to keep little minds and bodies wanting to learn more about yoga.
- This mindbodygreen article offers eight tips, such as playing “yoga pictionary,” to keep yoga fun and fresh.
- Yoga for Kids, Breathing Techniques providing a tutorial for kids to practice breathing exercises
- Namaste Kid is an entire site devoted to teaching kids about yoga and includes a curriculum, advice and a store.
- Yoga for Children is a book with more than 200 poses for kids, as well as breathing exercises and meditations.