Calming Down,  Coping Skills

Yoga for Kids: Tips for Beginners, Books, Benefits and Other Resources

Are you running out of ideas for fun, interesting and beneficial activities for kids? You may need to consider all the benefits of yoga for kids. If you are looking for some tips on how to start teaching yoga to your kids, recommendations of beautiful yoga books that will get them excited or just want to know a bit more about yoga benefits, this post is for you.

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Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India. In the Eighties, it became very popular as a system of physical exercise in the Western world. Nowadays, it is widely recognized that its benefits go far beyond those of physical exercise. Breathing is a very important component in yoga. And its benefits extend to aspects such as cognitive and emotional development.

Lots of people believe yoga is an activity just for adults. However, experts suggest kids can start practicing yoga around the age of 4. At that age, it is possible to start teaching some breathing and relaxation techniques. I´ve even come across some programs developed for much younger kids, based on the kids imitating simple movements.

Table of Content:
-Tips on How to Start Teaching Yoga to Kids
-Yoga Books for Kids
-Yoga Books for the Classroom (or for Parents at Home)
-Kids´ Yoga DVDs
-“Beginner’s Kit”
-46 Benefits of Yoga for Kids that You Should Consider

Yoga for Kids: Tips for Beginners

If you are interested in practicing yoga with your kids, these are some basic tips that may help you with your project:

  • Be flexible- Adjust times to your kid’s characteristics. When we did our first session, my son lasted 3-4 minutes, and my daughter continued practicing animal poses for half an hour.
  • Nurture their interest in the way that best suits you and your family
    • if you practice yoga yourself, your child will love to participate in simple breathing exercises, stretches or poses
    • if you are not practicing already, children´s books or DVDs could be a great resource to excite them about this new activity.
  • Try to create a routine with your kids that includes yoga.
  • Make it a fun activity. Have you ever seen kids engaging on an activity that is not fun for them?
  • If they are tired or not engaging, try another day. Don´t push them, try to get them interested and excited.
  • Talk to your kids about yoga’s benefits
  • Teach them breathing exercises.
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Avoid practicing after a heavy meal
  • If you are really keen for your kids to practice yoga, consider enrolling them in kids´ yoga lessons
  • You may want to get familiar with yoga poses before you start practicing with your kids.

Yoga Breathing for Kids

Breathing exercises are a great calming tool for anxiety and frustration. Check out my post on yoga breathing exercises for kids to learn a few fun exercises (printable poster included) 

Yoga Books for Kids

A really great way to get your kids interested is through children’s books. Let me share with you some of the books we have read at home:

  • Zoo Zen, by Kristen Fischer.
    This is my favorite. It has everything! The pictures are gorgeous, the story is cute (Lyla learns yoga poses from her animal friends at the zoo), the story is narrated through beautiful rhymes, it teaches 11 yoga poses, and the last page includes a detailed explanation on how to practice all those poses (bear, cobra, eagle, lion, camel, crocodile, dolphin, gorilla, lizard, frog and tree poses)

  • Yoga Friends, A Pose-by-Pose Partner Adventure For Kids, by Mariam Gates & Rolf Gates.
    This book is great for you if you have more than one kid because all the poses are meant for practicing with a buddy. At the end of the book, it also provides a detailed explanation of how to practice the poses that the storyline presented (lotus, lizard, octopus, owl, boat, drawbridge, heart, double warrior and tree poses). It is a great complement to the group of poses in the previous book. And I think it would make an amazing family activity, even if you are not really into yoga.

  • Yoga for Kids, Simple Animal Poses for Any Age, by Lorena Pajalunga.
    It narrates with easy-to-follow instructions for 11 animal poses (lion, tortoise cobra, seagull, camel, dog, tiger, crocodile, eagle, flamingo, and cat poses). I really like how easy it is to understand the poses here (I´ve sometimes read descriptions that are hard work!)

Yoga Books for the Classroom (or for Parents at Home)

  • Creative Yoga for Children, 40 Fun Ready-to-Teach Lessons for Ages 4-12, by Adrienne Rawlinson.
    It teaches you how to structure and create a yoga class. It is organized by age groups (classes for ages four to six, seven to nine and ten to twelve). Each group section is organized by themes (for example, colors, the sea, the circus, etc). And for each theme, it provides a detailed explanation of the educational elements, props, and a detailed step-by-step lesson program. It is an amazing resource if you want to use yoga in the classroom and also a great source of ideas for parents

Yoga DVDs for Kids

It may also be fun to practice yoga guided by a kid´s DVD. These are a couple of fun ones:

  • Yoga for Kids: Once Upon a Mat (2 ½ to 8-year-olds)
    n this video, Jessie, a certified kids’ yoga instructor guides kids through yoga poses and breath work. It contains 9 chapters with a complete 3-5 minute yoga routine in each of them. The chapters can be mixed-and-matched.

  • Yoga for Kids: Outer Space Blastoff (for kids aged 5+)
    The interactive sessions include:  Outer Space Blastoff (13 minutes), Solar System Yoga (16 minutes), Out of this World (13 minutes) and Space Balance Balls (10 minutes)

Yoga for Beginners Kit

What else do I need to start practicing yoga with my kids? Nothing, really. You can practice yoga on your living-room carpet. Just make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes.

But if you wish to make things a little more exciting for your kid, check out some of these products (we are approaching Christmas so they may make a nice present):

  • Yoga mats (you can check the cutest yoga mats for kids HERE)
  • Yoga Cards Kit, with illustrations and rhyming poems.

Other Yoga Resources for Beginners:

If you want to learn (and teach) how to practice diaphragmatic breathing this is a good video to watch:

And if you want to check some visuals for yoga poses for beginners this is a good article:

46 Benefits of Yoga for Kids To Consider

Practicing yoga is said to have multiple benefits for our health and our emotional development. I have prepared a very detailed list of benefits I´ve read about (although I believe not all them would be backed by science)

Physical Benefits of Yoga for Kids:

1. Strengthens muscles

2. Promotes good posture for a healthy back

3. Improvements joint flexibility and stability

4. Improves muscle flexibility

5. Improves agility

6.  Greatly beneficial for kids´ ”growing bodies” as it helps mitigate discomfort that may occur in rapid growth periods

7. Can prevent sports injuries

8. Helps improve coordination, balance, spatial awareness and sense of rhythm

Physiological Benefits of Yoga

9. Stimulates blood circulation.

10. Boosts immune system

11. Improves breathing habits.

12. Can promote healthier sleep patterns

13. It can help balance the functioning of internal organs and glands.

14. Certain exercises can help relax pupils / strengthen eye muscles

Yoga for kids: Emotional development benefits

15. Promotes emotional stability

16. Positive effects on self-esteem as they learn to appreciate both their own defects and their virtues

17. Teaches coping skills and appropriate ways to channel negative emotions

18. Improves mood

19. Has stress relief effects

20. Teaches relaxation techniques that promote calmness

21. Helps identify and understand our own emotions

22. Encourages self-knowledge

23. Offers an opportunity to channel physical energy and express emotional states in a physical way

24. May improve social relationships and interactions

25. Promotes positive values such as cooperation, tolerance or empathy.

26. Can have a positive influence on behavior and it may have effects of violence reduction

27. Fosters spirituality

28. Promotes non-competitive relationships (unlike most sports which involve competition)

29. Promotes a feeling of community.

30. Encourages perseverance

31. Promotes self-discipline

32. Can be a great family activity. And consequently, it could have a positive influence on relationships and family ties

33. It’s fun! Let’s not forget we are looking at yoga for kids, so “fun” is a must-have component.

34. Boosts well-being in general and emotional development (as a consequence of all the above-mentioned benefits)

Benefits of yoga for Kids: Cognitive Dimension

35. Improves attention

36. Improves concentration. Consequently, they will learn to generalize this skill to other activities, like studying!!!

37. Encourages self-control

38. Helps improve memory

39. Stimulates the imagination.

40. Releases tensions

Other yoga advantages for children

41. Creates healthy habits

42. It is an exercise that can be adapted to the characteristics of each child. It can also be adapted to the needs of children with disabilities.

43. It is a perfect complement for the practice of other sports

44. It is an excellent option for extracurricular classes (if you still have a free space!)

Benefits of yoga for children with developmental problems

45. Yoga for children with ADHD – may work well as a non-pharmacological intervention in the case of children with hyperactivity.

46. Yoga for children with developmental disorders – it can be a very interesting activity because of sensorimotor integration benefits, helping stereotypy regulation and relaxation (yoga for kids with developmental disorders deserves a post in its own right)

 

So, did I manage to get you interested in yoga for kids? I hope you have found this article useful.

 

Other popular articles on coping skills in this blog:

 

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