Poses and Partner Poses

WORKING WITH POSES

 

Movement is the basis for physical and cognitive development. Babies begin with body language as their first form of communication. Over time, with experimentation and an open area to move their bodies, babies learn to roll over, crawl and then walk, grasp objects, and later even throw a ball. Today, we often put our babies in carriers, lie them on their backs to sleep (as recommended to avoid SIDS), and are hesitant to put them on the floor. As they grow, they might watch TV rather than play outside, while at school they spend much of the 6-hour day sitting at a desk. Perhaps not surprisingly, children today are being increasingly diagnosed with motor challenges and learning disabilities.

Yoga poses provide the physical component of a yoga practice. Designed to open the joints and stretch and strengthen the muscles, yoga poses and yoga-based movements also move lymph through the body (which plays a critical role in the function of the immune system), help improve coordination, boost circulation, and promote mindfulness through conscious, focused movement.  Note that movement is also the foundation for learning. When children fold over in Rag Doll Pose, they’re increasing blood flow to the brain; when they balance in Eagle Pose, they’re improving concentration skills; when they reach across into Twisty Star, they’re performing cross-lateral movements that optimize the ommunication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, essential to the development of higher reasoning and motor planning. Structured yoga-based movements provide children an opportunity to become aware of their When yoga  poses are paired with breathing, meditation, and relaxation exercises, childrenlearn to notice how they feel and begin to self-regulate by upon ,ind utilizing these simple exercises as needed. 
The more traditional poses (though sometimes given kid-friendly names) include basic instructions as it is assumed that you are somewhat familiar with them. There are also many unique, child-friendly poses offered here. Some of the poses include variations, suggestions that really make the pose come to life for children! The ideas include partner versions of the pose to try out with your child, games, creative movement options, or questions—most with the purpose of extending the time the pose is held, making it more educational and/or just making it more fun for kids. To make them easy to find, all of the poses are listed in alphabetical order. Once you’ve chosen the intention or theme for your sequence (Chapter 10), you can pick and choose relevant yoga poses from this chapter. Here are a few general tips to keep in mind as you share yoga poses with your child. Following these tips will help ensure your child is benefiting as much as possible from the practice while also ensuring her safety:

Establish foundational poses first. Teach the three foundational poses first. These transitional poses provide a home base to return to between other poses, encouraging mindful movement. If standing, that is Mountain Pose. If sitting, that is Easy Pose. If lying down, that is lying flat on your back. Encourage breath awareness. With children ages 5 and up, be sure to encourage the breathing instructions as described in each “What to Say” section. Encourage mindful awareness. Being mindful means paying close attention to whatever we are doing (see Mindfulness Meditations for Child). During your child’s yoga practice (and throughout the day), encourage her to get into her “mindful body” and to “be mindful.” Bring your child’s awareness to the sensations in her body as she practices the poses while teaching her about her body. Ask, “Where do you feel the stretch?” and say, “Notice which muscles are being strengthened. That’s the ABC muscle.” If your child is struggling, encourage her to notice her challenge without judgment and to modify accordingly. If she complains that something hurts, for example, you might respond, “It’s wonderful that you are being mindful of what your body is telling you (focusing on the positive). Could you honor your body by easing off of the pose enough so that it is more comfortable? Here is a

 

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