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5 Simple Yoga Poses for Kids

Learning about yoga early and practicing it regularly is a wonderful and healthy habit for young children. Yoga gives kids a fun way to engage in physical activity and helps them feel calmer, more focused, and less stressed. It also enhances their flexibility, refines their balance and coordination, develops concentration and focus, boosts self-esteem, and strengthens their mind-body connection. Here are five simple and easy-to-learn poses that kids will love.


Bridge

Inversions that reverse blood flow are ideal for whole-body circulation and energy levels. As such, the bridge pose re-oxygenates the body and provides a good stretch as well. Have your child lie on her back and place her feet flat on the ground with her knees bent. Have her bring her heels as close as she can to her bottom and then lift her hips toward the sky. Most children have flexible spines and so can raise their hips up very high. The bridge pose is also good for ankle stability, leg strength, and energy.


Doggy (Downward-Facing Dog)

Like the bridge, the doggy pose gets the blood circulating through the body and becomes a sort of "home base" pose for stability. When the pose is performed correctly (with the heels pressing into the floor, the shoulders relaxed, and the elbows facing outward with the weight distributed evenly on both hands and all fingers), this pose is also strengthening. The hands and feet ground the yogi, and paying attention to the nuances of this pose can also help free the mind from wandering. To get into this pose, have your child get on his hands and knees and then tuck his toes under and lift his hips so that his body and the mat form a triangle. He should let his head hang down and press his chest forward. Do not allow him to stand on his tiptoes; instead, have him focus on keeping his feet firmly on the floor, bending his knees if necessary.


Tree

The tree pose is an effective way to quiet the mind and improve balance. Holding this pose requires tightening the core and maintaining a good deal of concentration. Being quiet and focused doesn’t come naturally to kids; this is the perfect pose to help pull the focus inward. Have your child stand steady on both feet and then press one foot into the mat firmly while lifting the opposite foot. When she feels stable enough, have her turn her knee outward and bring her heel to her opposite inner ankle. If she feels steady, she can try raising the foot so that one heel rests on the inside of the other thigh as she breathes in and out through her nose.



Butterfly

To open up the hips and give the ankles a great stretch, try the butterfly pose. Have your child sit up straight; the more he reaches his head toward the ceiling, the better the spinal and hip stretches will be. He should push down on his thighs or knees with his elbows as he keeps the soles of his feet pressed together; this will allow the hips to open up even more. Telling your child to open his feet up like a book may be helpful.


Child’s Pose

What list of yoga poses for children would be complete without child’s pose? The child’s pose is grounding and safe; you can also remain calm and quiet while helping your child get into this pose so that she associates it with calm and quiet. Have her begin on all fours and then sit back on her heels while resting her head on the mat. Show her how to “walk” her fingers away from her body for a wonderful ankle, thigh, and hip stretch.


Conclusion

Yoga is highly beneficial to all children, but particularly so for children with special needs. It reduces stress, anxiety, and aggressive behavior; it also helps with motor coordination. However, most any child can benefit from yoga in many ways. Teaching children to access and integrate all the various aspects of their true natures can help them achieve inner harmony as well as physical health. As yoga becomes more popular in schools, some parents are concerned about its religious associations. Despite the controversy, yoga is an extremely healthy and beneficial practice. Practicing yoga regularly equips them to handle the physical, social, and emotional challenges that we all face. If you are concerned about passing on any religious or cultural messages, focus on the physical and mental benefits of the poses and use their generic names (as we have done above) rather than the Sanskrit names. No matter what you call it, yoga can provide life-changing benefits for people of all ages.

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