Yoga is a playful, fun, and interactive way for parents to foster their child's mind-body connection. According to Cleveland Clinic, not only can this healthy habit "enhance your child’s strength, coordination and flexibility" but it also "encourages body awareness and self-esteem" and can even "reduce your child’s anxiety and stress and promote a sense of calmness." Babies as young as six weeks to teenagers can benefit from an at-home yoga practice.
This simple exercise is gaining in popularity. Data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) shows that the number of American adults and children using yoga and meditation has significantly increased over previous years. In fact, the percentage of children who used yoga in the past 12 months more than doubled over the past five years, from 3.1 percent in 2012 to 8.4 percent in 2017.
It's no surprise when you consider how yoga improves one's health and well-being, both physically and mentally. According to Harvard Health, physical benefits for school-age children include improved balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity. Psychologically, yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior. It can even reduce anxiety and stress, and may help with ADHD.
Ready to start an at-home yoga practice with your kiddo? Here are some resources to help get you going.
A great place to begin a daily practice is with Yoga With Adriene. Adriene encourages you to "find what feels good" instead of forcing your body into a posture it doesn't want to go into. The Austin, Texas native's YouTube channel has more than six million subscribers, so she must be doing something right. While most of her practices are geared toward adults, she does have a few videos for kiddos, including Yoga For Kids, Rainbow Yoga For All Ages, and Yoga For The Classroom.
A great way to get younger kids (ages 2-8) interested in yoga is by incorporating a story. Kids Yoga Stories integrates literacy with movement by combining easy yoga poses for kids with reading adventures. Kids Yoga Stories' yoga books for kids encourage kids to act out the poses they see illustrated on the page as you read along. You don't even have to buy the books. Founder Giselle reads them aloud on the KidsYogaStories YouTube Channel.
For those with toddlers, Kids Yoga Stories offers a guide on How to Get Started Teaching Yoga to Toddlers as well as Fun and Easy Toddler Yoga Ideas. Kids Yoga Stories also offers free kids yoga posters, including Calm Down Yoga for Kids, as well as monthly kids yoga themes, like Animal Yoga, which takes advantage of the fact that many yoga poses are named after animals, such as cat, cow, and downward facing dog.
YogaKids sells an Om at Home program for parents for $99. The set of tools includes instructional videos, a workbook, and music to jumpstart and compliment your at-home practice. Learn how to teach yoga and breathing basics to your child, how to do yoga with children of different ages, and how yoga can regulate your child’s energy in a positive and productive way. In addition to promoting physical fitness, the award-winning YogaKids program is designed to help your child develop coping and cooperation skills, focus on homework, make healthy life choices, and get relaxed and calm for bed.
KidsHealth has some great resources for both kids and teens. The Welcome Home Yoga guides them through postures, including down dog, child's pose, and sphinx. KidsHealth offers a guide on Yoga for Lowering Stress for children, while their teen resources include Yoga for Stress Relief, Study Break Yoga (Video), and Yoga: Meditation and Breathing.
Kumarah Yoga offers a ton of yoga games, lessons, and printables for teaching kids yoga and mindfulness. Sign up to get free resources, including ABC yoga poses, yogi says prompts, yoga dice game, yoga lesson plans, breathing activity printables, yoga sequences, and more. Also check out Animal Yoga ABCs, Fun and Easy Kids Yoga Games to Play with Your Kids at Home, How to Start Practicing Yoga with Kids at Home, and Spring Themed Yoga Poses and Activities for Kids (with Mindfulness!).
No one weaves narrative together with yoga poses like Jamie Amor of the mindfulness and yoga platform Cosmic Kids Yoga. Her British accent doesn't hurt anything, either. The Cosmic Kids YouTube Channel features all kinds of free interactive adventures for ages three and over. Classes are based on popular children's stories, like Frozen, Trolls, Moana, and even Star Wars which come to life against a digital backdrop.
The best-selling book The ABCs of Yoga for Kids by award-winning author, kids’ yoga expert, and speaker Teresa Anne Power has become a whole product line in and of itself. The author has also founded Kids’ Yoga Day, which takes place on April 3rd of each year.
The book that started it all uses the alphabet, rhyming vignettes, and colorful illustrations to engage children between the ages of three and eight. At 56, the book has way more poses than there are letters, but they all promote flexibility, strength, and coordination.
Author Rebecca Whitford and illustrator Martina Selway introduce simple yoga sequences while entertaining preschoolers in their fun, accessible, and colorful series of Little Yoga books. The award-winning Little Yoga: A Toddler's First Book of Yoga introduces nine simple yoga exercises for young children. Kids follow along with the interactive picture book's star Yoga Baby as he spreads his arms out like a butterfly, wags his tail like a dog, and wobbles like a little bird.
The Sleepy Little Yoga: A Toddler's Sleepy Book of Yoga is a soothing sequence that's perfect to get little ones ready for bed. Like the other interactive picture book in the series, this one contains nine simple poses conveyed in fun, colorful illustrations. Toddlers love imitating the book's animals, like bats and owls.
Both books contain useful information and tips for supervising adults in the back, an explanation of how to come into the poses, and photos of children practicing the poses.