Yoga for the whole family

Yoga with children

Nowadays almost everyone has practised yoga at least once. So why haven’t children? – yoga can help you to find a good balance and master challenging situations at any age or stage. This is as true for children and young adults as it is for older people.

“It’s all about finding the calm in the chaos.”
- Donna Karan -

In this post, we want to focus on children and demonstrate how you can encourage them to take up yoga.

Yoga is ideal for stretching and flexing, activating your entire body and making it stronger at the same time. As conscious breathing plays a very central part in yoga, this activity contributes to both physical and mental relaxation. Only a few asanas (positions) are needed to harmonise body and mind.

Is it possible to combine children and yoga?

Modern versions of the age-old practice of yoga can help children over the age of 5 or so to come through critical phases of life. For example, it can allay pre-school nerves or exam anxiety, or counteract fatigue. Yoga is easy to deploy and helpful in a wide variety of life situations. What’s more, yoga can easily be practised at home, on your own or with the whole family. No special equipment is needed, just comfortable clothes and a bit of space. If you don’t have a yoga or Pilates mat at home, you can still do the exercises on your living room carpet with no difficulty, or just use a big bath towel instead.

To get children excited about yoga, you as an adult should not take the yoga sequences too seriously and make sure you build everything up playfully. At the beginning, it’s less important that children do the exercises correctly than that they have fun and want to join in and try out different poses.

A yoga sequence with all the family

A balanced yoga sequence consists of a short warm up, a main section and finally relaxation. Even if you practise yoga at home with little by way of resources, you can maintain this structure for around 20 minutes and so benefit your body and mind in many ways.

We have put together a 20-minute sequence for you and your whole family. You can do it with your children or try it alone. It is particularly suitable for introducing children to yoga gradually. Give it a try – have fun and relax with your family!

A 20-minute yoga sequence for you and your family

Warming up:

  • Activate the abdominal muscles: This mini-sequence trains your balance, strengthens your abs and stabilises your back, while you pay particular attention to your breathing. The sequence is also very good for improving concentration.

Main series:

  • Downward facing dog: downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) is one of yoga’s most famous postures. This exercise strengthens your back leg muscles and your chest and back muscles. At the same time, it also strengthens your upper body.
  • Traditional sun salutation (at least 1 full sequence): the traditional sun salutation is a dynamic movement sequence ideal for starting off some physical exercise. The classic sun salutation consists of 12 exercises. You should repeat them twice if possible.
  • Warrior II (4 to 6 breaths per side): the second form of Warrior (Virabhadrasana 2) strengthens your thigh muscles and glutes. This position also increases inner thigh and front hip muscle flexibility.
  • Wide-legged forward fold (6 deep breaths): this pose (Prasarita Padottanasana) stretches the back and inner leg muscles and the spine. This exercise has many benefits, one of which is calming your breathing and your mind.
  • Tree (4 to 6 deep breaths per side, make it playful for children): when you’re in tree pose (Vrksasana) you are training your balance, strengthening your leg muscles, stretching your adductor muscles and boosting your concentration. You can approach this exercise playfully with children and maybe help them to hold the position.

Relaxation and conclusion

  • Seated twist (4 to 6 breaths per side): this exercise (Ardha Matsyendrasana) mobilises your thoracic spine and ribcage, stretches your lateral abs and parts of your back muscles and glutes.
  • Deep relaxation (at least 3 minutes): this position, called dead body pose (Savasana) is one of the hardest in yoga. Deep relaxation leads to complete recovery and liberates the mind very quickly. Depending on how old your children are, you could tell them a story during this exercise so they lie quietly and can relax as well as possible.

Tips for yoga with children

  • Most yoga exercises can be adapted for children, by practising less demanding positions, for example.
  • You should also remember that not every day is the same. As in other areas of life, sometimes you will find yoga really easy and other times less so. However, be relaxed in your approach and don’t expect too much of your children or yourself.
  • Important: the breath is key to yoga – relax, breathe deeply, into your stomach if possible.
  • When the position is asymmetric (e.g., Warrior II or Tree), you should repeat the exercise on the other side.
  • Balancing poses that involve another challenge (e.g., Tree) are especially suitable for children. The posture names (such as Dog, Warrior, Tree, etc.) can also help to motivate the children.
  • Like the warm-up phase at the beginning, the end of each yoga session is very important. Plan a few minutes of relaxation at the end of each session, in which you lie on the floor with your eyes closed. When you do this, it is important to visualise different body parts and release topical tensions if necessary. Soft music may help you to relax. With children, metaphors such as “sink into the ground”, “the warm blue light wanders through your legs, arm...” and so on can be useful.

Other yoga exercises

Power Yoga: Mountain pose
Power Yoga: High plank
Power Yoga: Low cobra
Power Yoga: Standing forward bend
Power Yoga: Warrior I
Power Yoga: Crow
Power Yoga: Seated forward bend
Power Yoga: Supine spine twist (crocodile)
Power Yoga: Low plank
Power Yoga: Chair
Power Yoga: Pigeon
Yoga: Eagle
Yoga: Half-moon
Yoga: Warrior III
Yoga: Dancer
Yoga: Standing pigeon
Yoga: Dolphin

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