Research states that yoga exercises may help children cope with stress and have a balance in life and mental health (1). A child doesn’t require yoga skills to start practicing it. They just have to start, and yoga will become a way of their life. It keeps them active, balances their body, mind, and soul, and helps them focus on their life.
MomJunction helps you introduce yoga to your children, as we tell you about the benefits of yoga for kids and share instructions for some simple yoga asanas (yoga poses) to begin with.
What Are The Benefits Of Yoga For Kids?
Yoga is a philosophy that teaches the ability to unite the physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of a person and helps them to reach a state of inner peace and mindfulness (2).
It is a good idea to start teaching yoga to kids at an early age, as it is not only beneficial their physical growth but also for their emotional and overall well-being. It also helps children to develop interpersonal relationships, stress management, and mindfulness, skills which might be useful in their adulthood.
Yoga may be helpful while dealing with several physical and emotional problems. It could be used as a tool to bring a balance in life. Here are some of the possible health benefits of yoga (1) (3) (4):
- Improves body balance, strength, and aerobic capacity
- Helps reduce chronic pain such as muscle pain
- Enhances the quality of sleep
- Can reduce the release of stress hormones like cortisone, and, therefore, is effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and fatigue
- Works on the child’s classroom behavior, focus, and academic performance
- Improves the quality of life by bringing emotional balance, since yoga is a non-competitive activity
- Helps children improve resilience, mood, and self-regulation skills
- Six months of yoga, including meditation, asanas, and pranayama (breathing exercises), have shown to reduce body weight, improve endocrine functions and memory
Yoga has innumerable benefits to offer. Let your kid start with the basic poses and realize the beauty of this practice. There are different styles of yoga, including body postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. So, while teaching yoga for kids, you may consider focusing on the movement and on how to make it interesting for them initially. Once you can get them interested, consider adding breathing and meditation.
You should also explain to your child that they could reap the benefits of yoga over time, and to achieve this, they need to practice it regularly.
To begin with, here are a few easy yoga poses you can try teaching your children.
15 Easy Yoga Poses For Kids
Yoga doesn’t require a huge place or elaborate equipment. It can be performed in the garden, home, or at school, with just a yoga mat.
Here are some yoga poses for kids; they are easy, quick, and safe for everyday practice.
1. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
This rejuvenating backbend gives a good stretch to the spine and thighs.
How to do:
- Lie on the back.
- Bend the knees a little and keep the feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
- The knees and ankles must be in a straight line.
- Place the arms in a resting position beside the body, with the palms downwards.
- Take a deep breath and lift the lower, middle, and upper back off the floor.
- Balance the body in a way that the arms, shoulders, and feet support the body weight.
- Keep the buttocks tight.
- Have the fingers interlaced, and hands pushed to the ground to help lift the torso higher.
- Let your child hold this posture for as long as they are comfortable and breathe slowly while they are in the pose.
- Exhale and release.
Possible benefits: Stretches and opens the shoulders, thighs, hips, and chest portion; strengthens the back and hamstrings; increases the flexibility of the spine
Caution: If your kid faces difficulty in making the pelvis lift from the floor, slide a sturdy bolster under their sacrum to rest their pelvis. In case of any neck or shoulder pain, take assistance from a professional to hone the steps.
2. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Vrksasana teaches your kid the grace of a tree, standing tall and maintaining balance.
How to do:
- Begin the posture with the mountain pose, wherein the legs are straight, hands at the sides, back straight, and thigh muscles firm.
- Lift the right foot with the knee out.
- Place the right foot on the left inner thigh in a position where it feels comfortable.
- Press the hands together above the head.
- Gaze at a point about five feet away.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Return the hands to the chest and then lower the right leg.
- Repeat it on the left leg.
Possible benefits: Improves balance and concentration; strengthens the thigh muscles, calves, and ankles while stretching the legs and the chest
Caution: If your kid gets unsteady in the beginning while trying to hold their posture, you may make them stand with their back against a wall.
3. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
The stretch might promote a sturdy back, abs, and strength.
How to do:
- Lie face down with the tips of the feet flat on the floor and palms on either side of the body.
- Pull the shoulders slightly back towards the spine.
- Engage the abdomen throughout the exercise as it keeps the lower back protected.
- Lift the body into a cobra pose while keeping the chin up. Use the hands for support, but without putting unnecessary pressure.
- Hold the posture for 15 to 30 seconds, before gently releasing the body to the floor. This is a good, morning yoga pose for kids to practice daily.
Possible benefits: Strengthens the spine; stretches the chest, shoulders, abdomen, and buttocks; stimulates the abdominal organs and releases fatigue and stress; might be good for managing breathing problems like asthma.
Caution: Ask your kid to arch the back as much as the body can take. Every child has different flexibility, so let them take it slow.
4. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
The cat pose is a gentle kneading for the back and core.
How to do:
- Take a tabletop position using the hands and knees.
- The knees should be directly below their hips, and toes curled.
- The wrists, elbows, and shoulders should be straight and perpendicular to the floor.
- Center the head in a neutral position with eyes looking at the floor.
- With an exhalation, arch the spine up towards the ceiling.
- Release the head towards the floor without forcing the chin towards the chest.
- Come back to the initial tabletop position while inhaling slowly.
Possible benefits: Relaxes and stretches the spine, neck, torso, and the organs of the abdomen
Caution: If your kid faces difficulty while rounding their upper back, lay a hand above and between the shoulder blades for support.
5. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Bend the back like a bow and open the chest and shoulders with the bow pose.
How to do:
- Lie flat on the stomach, keeping the arms stretched along the sides of the body and head resting gently on the mat.
- Inhale and bend the knees bringing the feet towards the hips.
- Grasp the ankles using both the hands.
- Lift the shoulders, torso, legs, and hips off the floor while gazing straight ahead.
- Hold the posture for four to five breaths, then lower the knees and release the feet.
- Rest on the stomach.
Possible benefits: Stretches and strengthens the back, shoulders, chest, and legs; brings flexibility to hip flexor function, and regulates the digestive system
Caution: The bow pose involves a great deal of stretching, so if your child feels heavy in the lower back, keep the posture lower until it is comfortable to stretch. Help them in holding the ankles in step 3 and lifting the body in step 4.
6. Frog Pose (Mandukasana)
This pose might help in relieving sprains or back pains.
How to do:
- Start by going on the floor on the hands and knees.
- Position the knees a few inches apart and place the feet right behind the knees.
- Place the palms right under the shoulders with the fingers facing forward.
- Look downwards and focus at a point between your hands.
- Now, push the tailbone towards the back. This will stretch the spine. This position is known as the table position.
- Slowly move the knees outwards to the sides. Then align the ankles and feet with the knees in a straight line.
- Start to slide downwards while keeping the palms flat against the floor.
- Exhale and keep pushing the hips backwards until a stretch is felt.
- Now, hold this position for three to five breaths.
- Come back to the table position again.
Possible benefits: Stretches the hips, thighs, and spine
Caution: If it hurts your child under the knees or the elbows, place a folded blanket to provide support and strength. Let them not stretch beyond their comfort level.
7. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
This is the simplest of all poses that the child can try.
How to do:
- Sit upright with legs crossed.
- Rest the hands on the knees with the palms facing up.
- Evenly balance the weight across the sit bones.
- Keep the head, neck, and spine aligned all along.
- Elongate the spine but without stiffing the neck.
- The feet and thighs should be relaxed.
- Retain this posture for a minute.
- Release and change the cross-legged position.
Benefits: Good for the back, thighs, and hips; gives a stretch to the knees and feet; and helps in negating anxiety and stress.
Caution: If your kid’s hips are tight and they are finding it difficult to sit flat, prop them up with a folded blanket or firm pillow under the hips.
8. Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
A pose that makes your kid flutter like a graceful butterfly, this is believed to offer some valuable benefits.
How to do:
- Sit with the spine upright and legs spread out straight.
- Fold the legs so that the feet are touching each other. Hold them with the hands.
- While exhaling, gently move the thighs and knees in a downward motion.
- Then start flapping the legs up and down, like the wings of a butterfly.
- The flapping should be slow initially and then pick up to speed. Breathing should be at a normal pace.
- Slow down gradually and then stop.
- Gently release the posture while exhaling.
Possible benefits: Stretches the thighs, knees, and hips; regulates the intestine and bowel movement; for girls, helps in easy and painless menstruation.
Caution: If your kid has a knee or groin injury, keep a blanket under the thighs to prevent pain or ache.
9. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Though this yoga pose looks effortless, it could be challenging as it needs patience.
How to do:
- Lie on the back with legs straight and arms at the sides. The arms should be at a minimum distance of six inches away from the body.
- Keep the eyes closed, and palms faced upwards.
- Keep the feet drop open.
- Breathe normally while resting the body’s weight on the ground.
- Slowly exhale while relaxing and de-stressing all the body parts.
- This is the best relaxing yoga pose for kids.
Possible benefits: Keeps the heart rate and blood pressure low; less tension of muscles; low metabolic rate; helps reduce insomnia, anxiety, and fatigue; improves productivity, memory, and concentration.
Caution: Often, the body cools down, and one may feel relatively cold after holding this posture. Have a sweater or a pair of socks around your kid, in case they feel cold.
10. Chair pose (Utkatasana)
The chair post is a workout for the legs, arms, and the heart, and is believed to be one of the most constructive yoga poses.
How to do:
- Inhale and raise the arms above the head.
- Bend the knees forward while exhaling; the thighs should be parallel to the floor.
- While performing it, the knees will project slightly ahead.
- Lift your arms and stretch them straight.
- Keep the tailbone down and the lower back long.
- Keep the breath steady and easy throughout.
- Keep the gaze forward.
- Retain this posture for as long as comfortable, but not more than a minute.
Possible benefits: Works on the thigh muscles and ankles; tones the shoulders, hips, and the spine; regulates the digestive system and heart functioning.
Cautions: If your child is experiencing headaches or insomnia, do not perform this asana.
11. Hero Pose (Virasana)
This pose might be the salve for the weary legs of your kids.
How to do:
- Sit with the knees together and the feet hip-width apart.
- Sit on the heels with the heels touching the hips.
- The hands should rest on the knees with the palms facing up.
- Straighten the spine and drop the shoulders down and a little towards the back.
- Relax the core while taking deep breaths.
- Retain the posture for as long as it is comfortable.
Possible benefits: Stretches the spine, quadriceps, and shoulders; improves blood circulation and relieves tiredness of legs; improves digestion and posture.
Caution: If the hips don’t rest comfortably on the yoga mat, use a yoga block in between.
12. Boat Pose (Naukasana)
This balancing yoga pose might help kids to de-stress and revitalize.
How to do:
- Lie down flat with feet aligned together and arms on the sides.
- Keep the arms and fingers outstretched in the direction of the toes.
- Inhale and while exhaling, lift the chest and feet off the ground, to form a ‘V’ shape.
- This will build tension and stretch in the core.
- The weight of the body will solely rest on the hips.
- The eyes, hands, and toes should align straight.
- Hold the breath and retain the posture for a few seconds.
- Exhale slowly while bringing the body down to the neutral position. And relax.
Possible benefits: Strengthens the core, arm muscles, shoulders, and thighs; it is great for the liver and kidneys; helps reduce constipation and alleviates digestive problems.
Caution: If your kid suffers from any chronic disease or spinal cord problems, avoid the pose.
13. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This is a foundational pose for all the standing asanas and could be a calm-down yoga pose for children.
How to do:
- Stand straight and tall.
- Spread the legs a few inches apart and spread the toes.
- Keep the arms alongside the body.
- The shoulders must be relaxed and not stiff.
- Raise the arms above your head.
- Hold the posture and breathe slowly.
- Retain as long as comfortable.
Possible benefits: Improves posture, strengthens the thighs, legs, and ankles; firms the abdomen and hips; improves sleep
Caution: No cautions to follow up.
14. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
This asana might help relax the back joints.
How to do:
- Lie on the back with the knees drawn in towards the chest.
- Hold the feet with hands. Ensure that the arms are in front of the torso.
- Draw the shoulders to the back.
- Slightly stretch the arms and feet.
- Draw the knees wide apart, as much as comfortable.
- Elongate the lower back down to the ground while touching the tip of the tailbone.
- Retain the position for a minute or less, and then release.
Possible benefits: Stretches and opens the hips, thighs and inner groin; elongates the spine; strengthens the arms and shoulders
Caution: If your kid has any knee or ankle injury, check with a doctor before performing this pose.
15. Lion Pose (Simhasana)
Might help your child de-stress with this animal asana; have them roar and enjoy.
How to do:
- Sit with the hips on the heels.
- Rest the palms on the knees.
- Start inhaling from the nose, and while you’re on it, stick your tongue out.
- Keep the eyes wide open, exhale through the mouth, and make a sound of a roaring lion (Haaa).
- Many yoga schools suggest that you either concentrate looking at the tip of the nose or in the middle of the eyebrows.
Possible benefits: A great yoga stretch for the lungs, throat, and the respiratory tract; regulates the functioning of the tonsils and the immune system; reduces stress, anger, and anxiety; suitable for a hyperactive child.
Caution: Do not repeat this for more than five times.
A daily routine of yoga activity will make your child more disciplined and focused on their activity and gives them the strength to face stress. Start with one or two yoga poses to practice initially, and then you can have them try more as they get used to the practice.
Does your child do yoga? Which one, do you think, is the best pose for them? Let us know about it in the comments section below.
2. Michelle Mochan; The Benefits of Teaching Yoga to Young Children with Special Needs: Developing an Appropriate Methodology; International Journal of Technology and Inclusive Education
3. Marlyn Wei; More than just a game: Yoga for school-age children; Harvard Health Publishing
4. Amit Kauts and Neelam Sharma; Effect of yoga on academic performance in relation to stress; International Journal Of Yoga;
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