I’ve been practicing yoga for almost 12 years. Even when I was pregnant, I tried not to miss my yoga classes and did simple poses and breathing exercises. As every mother, I want my children (3 and 5 year olds) to be healthy and happy. That’s why I had no doubts that I would practice yoga with my kids. There is no reason to explain to an adult how good yoga is for your body, mind and soul. But how to explain this to a child?
When I started my first family yoga classes, my kids didn’t look too happy about it. They felt bored doing poses and meditation. I had nothing else to do but to invent my own way of practicing yoga with kids. Now, yoga is their favorite pastime. How did I do that? Here are my small tricks.
1) There is always a place for music!
To start with, I did short breathing and relaxing exercises outdoors, using my mobile phone to play calming music. If you have little kids, you barely have time to go deep in technology and learn how to download music from the Web onto your phone. That’s where I got help from Free Musicbox. It’s a simple app that has almost all kind of music you need. In my case, I use #yoga hashtag to find music I need.
2) Sing songs to make kids relax
Besides that, we sing songs at the beginning and at the end of each class. I briefly explained to my kids the meaning of Om and now every time we practice yoga together we include Om Shanti in our class. My kids like to sing; it makes our training more peaceful and relaxing.
3) Learn poses with fun
Children learn super-fast, but you need to help them learn numerous yoga poses. I use Yoga Pretzels, a set of special cards with yoga asanas to teach my kids. Before starting the poses, I let my children choose the cards and then we practice the asanas they’ve chosen together. Don’t forget to make sure they do their 4 count breath through the nose in and out.
4) Call fantasy heroes to help you
There is an issue I faced was that my daughter didn’t know well her right and left. I tried to put stickers with corresponding letters on her arms, but it looked rather boring for her. After some time, I came up with another idea. Ashley is into Disney princesses. Her favorite are Jasmine and Elsa. So I printed their faces and again put on Ashley’s arms. The trick worked fine and now instead of saying “raise your right arm”, I say “raise your right Elsa arm”.
5) Play games to keep asanas in mind
One more great way to learn the poses is a simple game. We sit in a circle singing when I suddenly name one of the poses and choose who’ll show me it. One of my kids then stands up and demonstrates us the asana. In a couple of classes they learned perfectly all the necessary poses and now compete who’ll do it better.
6) Add new poses and games to each class
My children like to learn something new and perform difficult tasks. That’s why I try to include a new challenge – a new pose in every class. Their favorite poses are balance asanas, especially the crow pose. Of course, when you start practicing this pose, you should assist your kids all the time and watch them attentively.
7) Talk seriously in a simple way
Kids are curious about everything and are very impressible. Be ready to answer their questions but in a simple way. During each practice I talk to my kids about basic yoga principles. Yesterday we began to discuss Ahisma, or Non-Harming, a huge topic and it’ll for sure last for many classes. Since we have pets at home, we talked about the importance of being kind to animals. Then we spoke about how it’s important to help other people and animals, especially when they are weaker than you.
At the very same evening, a couple of hours after this talk, I saw Freddy, my son, helping Ashley to fix her favorite toy. Well, I couldn’t help smiling and I was extremely proud for my kids.
Alice Koval is a freelance blogger and a happy mother. She is passionate about yoga, healthy lifestyle, and early childhood education. Talk to Alice on Twitter.