Sharing Yoga with Children: What to Know

THE BASICS

 

In this In our writing you will find the basics to get you started sharing yoga with your child at home. Here you’ll discover the special challenges presented through the age ranges, ways to create yoga sessions tailored to your child’s age and maturity level, and what you need to know about creating the setting for sessions. You’ll also find information on materials needed, ideas of when to share yoga with your child, and ten tips for success. And finally, one of the most important components of your yoga practice the Yoga Principles is included here as well. These are essential guidelines upon which the practice of yoga is based, the wisdom that “exercises” your child’s spirituality as the asanas exercise your child’s body through poses. Lets get started!

 

YOGA FOR YOUP, CHILD’S AGE

 

The yoga time you create for and with your child will provide a special and safe place for the two of you, encouraging compassion and connectedness. It might also be one of the few opportunities the two of you have to be together in such a mutually beneficial way. Having said that, it’s important to understand your child in order to present the yoga concepts and activities in this book in both a chronologically and a developmentally appropriate manner. You are likely quite attuned to your child’s unique personality, needs, abilities, and learning style. Remember to take this into consideration with your expectations when sharing yoga with your child. Some children learn by doing, trying out all the poses as soon as they are presented, happily following along with each activity as it is introduced. Other children will sit back and just observe, some even seeming downright disinterested. Don’t despair! These children may be the visual and/or auditory learners who will later demonstrate what they learned after time for processing, perhaps while playing around the house. Following are typical characteristics of the various age ranges of children and related tips for keeping them engaged in the learning process. You are invited to keep these in mind as you begin sharing yoga with your child. Note that you may find some crossover in the age grouping information, so it’s best to read through the entire section. Depending on your child’s maturity level, she may fit into a higher or lower age group, or more than one group.

 

 

2- to 4-Year-Olds

 

Your 2- to 4-year-old may …

Be highly inquisitive and curious
Have a short attention span
Respond best to simple, encouraging instruction

 
As you know, your 2- to 4-year-old is curious about everything! Children this age love to explore, move, roam, and ask lots of questions. Because of this, you may be skeptical about teaching yoga to your child/ren at this age. But how will get my child to sit still and listen?” you wonder. In general, yoga sessions with this age group look less like adult yoga and are more playful and active. Keeping some basic tips in mind will ensure success.

 
 This age group learns best with lots of structure, repetition, and consistency. Don’t be afraid to repeat games, poses, and songs several times during a given session, and again at later sessions. Use the same basic sequencing establishing a ritual beginning, middle, and end activity that you share together each time.

 

 

  • Plan to keep yoga sessions between 5 and 20 minutes. Two- to 4-year-old have a limited attention span. Move fairly quickly from one activity to the next and end on a positive note when your child cues you that she’s had enough. Be sure to utilize the additional ideas provided with each activity t extra fun and engagement.

 

  •  Use the simple songs referenced with some of the poses. One- to two-verse songs, repeated several times, will not only engage your child but will also help her learn. Be playful, using an expressive voice, animated facial expressions, and body movements to draw your child’s attention. After all, if you are interested in and excited about what you are sharing, your child will automatically want to know more about it! Use simple instructions. It is important to guide your 2- to 4-year-old using simple language and as few words as possible. Instead of saying, “Take a big step back with your left leg. Keep your right knee aligned over your right ankle, weight evenly distributed between your feet,” you might try, “Watch Mommy take a great big step back … now, you try! That’s it, Jocelyn.” It doesn’t matter so much that she does it exactly right.

 

  •  Be sure to recognize your child’s accomplishments. Children in this age group want to succeed and impress! Rather than using general praise such as “Good job,” try to be specific using simple, encouraging words that also include the name of the pose or specific activity. Comments such as “You’re doing Down Dog, Sarah!” or “Jack’s in Tree Pose!” are incredibly effective, building self-esteem while helping your child associate his efforts with the particular activity. 

 

  • Be prepared to adapt the session to your child’s needs. Ot course, 2- to 4-year-olds are notorious for wanting to do what they want to do when they want to do it, a sign of their developing independence. Though you may hays specific plan for your yoga time with your child, it may just serve as a guideline in the end. Be prepared to change your agenda at a moment’s notice, following the needs and interests of your child. This will become easier over time as you both become more familiar with the activities in this book.

 

 

4- to 6-Year-Olds

 

Your 4- to 6-year-old probably …
Has a strong desire to learn new things
Loves to pretend play, tell stories, and use his imagination  is just developing a conscience

 
Four- to 6-year-olds are very eager to learn new things! The imagination that started developing in your child’s toddler years now really begins to expand. Pretend play, including “being” animals, objects, etc., is especially appealing to your child in this age group and developmentally beneficial as well. Four- to 6-year-olds love to talk, tell stories, and ask lots of questions. You’ll want to give your child lots of opportunity to do so during your yoga sessions.

 

Plan to keep sessions between 15 and 30 minutes. In this age group, children s attention spans are improving, so a yoga session of 15-30 minutes is reasonable. As with the 2- to 4-year-olds, be sure to utilize the additional ideas provided with each activity to keep your child in this age group interested. engaged, and having fun.

 

  • Incorporate themes arid stories. Four- to 6-year-olds become especially engaged when stories and themes are incorporated into their yoga sessions. Themes can be based on any interesting, child-friendly subject. Some theme category ideas include places, animal groups, learning themes such as opposites. things that grow or things that fly, feel-good themes such as happy poses, seasons or occasions, hobbies or interests, and of course, stories and adventures! You can make up your own stories or use a picture book as a guide. Website with animal adventures work best. Inspiring your child.s imagination and creativity is easy with yoga!

 

  • Use props. Four- to 6-year-olds enjoy props, so you will want to create a stash of props to have on hand that you know your child will enjoy. As with the younger children, refrain from making your yoga session focused on the props and rather bring them out as needed to regain attention or just for fun while expanding upon a pose or activity. A good rule to follow: Only use one major prop per yoga session.

 

  • Allow your time together to be playful. Yes, yoga is a contemplative practice, but with children under 7 or 8 years old, it’s important to engage all of their senses through the process, eventually coming to a quieter, more reflective place during breathing exercises, centering, and relaxation activities. Remember, yoga for children is fun!

 

  • Begin to slowly incorporate the Yoga Principles. Four- to 6-year-olds are beginning to develop a conscience, so very basic, simple discussions of the Yoga Principles are now appropriate. It’s best to introduce just one at a time even focusing on one over many sessions so that your child is not overwhelmed.

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