The past few years have seen a huge increase in the number of nurseries, schools and kids clubs introducing yoga into their activities for kids.
And lockdowns around the world have contributed to the growth of yoga for kids, as millions of parents looked for ways to keep little ones occupied and active while at home.
And there’s good reason behind this hype about kids yoga.
Seeking information and inspiration for kids yoga? Look no further!
In this article on animal yoga for kids we’ll answer:
- The Benefits of Yoga for Kids
- Safety Precautions of Practicing Yoga with Kids
- How to Make Kids Interested in Yoga
- The 6 Best Animal Yoga Poses for Kids
The Benefits of Yoga for Kids
Kiddy yoga such as our animal yoga poses for kids boasts countless physical, emotional and psychological benefits for your little ones. Here are our favorites:
1. Improves Concentration and Attentiveness
Practicing kids yoga has been shown by numerous studies to have many beneficial psychological effects.
Yep, emerging research has evidenced that yoga and mindfulness can help improve concentration, memory, school performance, classroom behavior aaaand behavior at home!
In fact, yoga is even being used to help children with ADHD, with studies evidencing yoga’s amazing effect on core symptoms such as distraction, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.
2. Promotes Emotional Balance and Eases Anxiety
The calmness and introspectiveness of yoga practice has also been shown to reduce anxiety and stress in children, teaching them useful techniques to deal with stress, upset, and other emotional imbalances.
Furthermore, as a non-competitive arena for creativity and exploration, yoga also boosts confidence and self-esteem in children.
3. Supports Physical Wellbeing
Last but not least, practicing yoga does wonders for children’s physical wellbeing, and exposing them at a young age helps to lay the foundations for healthy lifestyles.
And there are many studies to prove this. These have found that practicing kids yoga helps to improve posture, flexibility, strength, balance, coordination, aerobic capacity and even motor skills in little ones.
Safety Precautions of Practicing Yoga with Kids
We’ve been mindful to pick animal yoga poses for kids that are not too physically demanding or likely to cause injury, however, there are always safety precautions to be conscious of:
1. Overextension and injury
Children are naturally much more flexible than grown-ups and thus much more vulnerable to overextending, meaning kids yoga instructors and parents should be extra conscious of potential joint and muscle injuries / strains.
It can help to ask the kids how they are feeling, and to remind them that yoga is not competitive but very personal – encourage them to listen to their bodies and exit the pose if they experience any discomfort or pain.
2. Underlying conditions
Always be aware of any underlying conditions or injuries that your child has, as these may be aggravated or complicated by some yoga practice.
For example, certain breathing techniques may be unsuitable for kids with asthma, bronchitis, a hernia, or breathing difficulties, or if your little ones suffer from headaches, migraines or blood pressure issues, they may need to steer clear of poses that put pressure on the head.
This list is by no means exhaustive and if your kids suffer from any underlying conditions, illnesses or injuries, always check with a medical professional before introducing them to yoga.
3. The set-up
The key to avoiding injury is to make sure that children always practice yoga on a safe, level surface, using bare feet to avoid slips, and in an area that is not too warm / in direct sunlight to prevent overheating.
Incorporating a warm-up and using props to stabilize positions and relieve strain is also a smart precaution to make.
If going to an organized kids yoga session, always check with the instructor that the class is appropriate for your children’s age, ability, and previous experience with yoga practice.
How can i make my kids interested in Yoga?
It’s all very well and good talking about the benefits of yoga poses for kids, but how do we actually get our little ones to be excited about practicing yoga?
Well, the key is to keep the yoga poses fun, playful and accessible. (…enter animal yoga poses for kids!)
One way to do this is to incorporate fun games or stories into their yoga practice. Even better, infuse these games and stories with positive lessons about trust, gratitude or confidence.
For example, play a mirror game where they mirror each other’s yogic movements, or fit the animal yoga poses for kids to stories about friendship at the zoo, teamwork at the safari etc …the possibilities are endless!
Another way to get your kids hyped about yoga is to give them creative power. Encourage them to come up with their own animal yoga poses, to name them, and then incorporate these into your routines.
The 6 Best Animal Yoga Poses for Kids
There are more animal yoga poses than you could shake a stick at, but not all are as accessible for little ones as others. Here are our top picks of animal yoga poses for kids:
1. Cat Pose
- Begin on all fours in the center of your mat. Wrists should be stacked directly under the shoulders, back flat, toes untucked, and knees stacked directly under the hips. (This is known as table pose)
- As you breathe out, slowly round your spine tucking your sit bones under. Here, the shoulders roll in towards your heart, chin falls to the chest and your gaze falls on your navel.
- Try to get them to stay here for 2-3 deep breaths, perhaps incorporating some meowing sounds to the exhales!
2. Cow Pose
- Beginning in table pose as above, again with both palms flat on the floor, core engaged and tops of the feet resting on the floor with toes untucked.
- With a deep in-breath arch your spine lifting your sit bones to the sky and eyes up to the ceiling, bringing your shoulder blades together as you roll your shoulders back and down.
- Remaining for 2-3 breaths here is perfect, and introducing some mooing to this animal yoga pose could help keep it fun!
3. Cobra Pose
- Begin on your mat, lying flat on your front, with the tops of your feet resting on the floor.
- Stretch your legs to the back of the mat as you place your palms flat on the mat underneath your shoulders, fingers splayed. Keep the elbows hugged in tight to the sides of your torso.
- Inhale and straighten your arms to lift your chest off the floor. The goal here is to lift your chest as high as possible while still being comfortable and maintaining contact between your pubis and the mat (it’s normal that your arms will still be slightly bent here!).
- Tuck your tailbone under towards the navel, as you press the tops of the feet, thighs and pubis down into the mat. Draw your shoulder blades back and down.
- Remain here for 5 deep breaths – maybe incorporating a hissing exhale to show of their best cobra impression!
4. Butterfly Pose
- Begin seated with legs outstretched in front of you, spine long with shoulders back and down away from your ears.
- Gently bend your right leg so that your sole is flat against the ground and your right heel is close to your right buttock, then repeat on other side.
- From here, allow your legs to gently fall to the side, knees still bent, so that you can press the soles of your feet together.
- Hook your left index finger around your left big toe, and your right around your right. Make sure your back is straight and spine long, shoulders back and down, and chest broad.
- Hold this pose for 10 or more deep breaths. Introduce gentle upward and downward motions in the legs that mimic the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings to help kids get in the role!
5. Fish Pose
- In this animal yoga pose, begin lying on your back with knees bent and soles of feet flat on your mat.
- As you inhale, raise your hips slightly off the mat, and move your hands underneath your bottom, keeping palms down.
- Let your bottom rest on the backs of your hands, and hug your forearms and elbows close the sides of your torso.
- Keeping your bottom resting on the backs of your hands, breathe in as you press your forearms and elbows into your mat.
- Next, draw your shoulder blades down and towards each other and on a deep in-breath, lift your head and chest off the floor and up to the ceiling.
- From here, tilt your head back so the crown or back of your head rests on the mat – whichever is most comfortable.
- Avoid putting any weight or strain on the neck by pressing firmly into the mat with your forearms and elbows.
- Remain here for 5 deep breaths, getting the little ones to tell you where they can feel their breath in this animal yoga pose – in their tummy or chest?
6. Lion Pose
- Begin in a kneeling posture in the center of your mat. With buttocks still seated on your heels, spread your knees as wide as is comfortable.
- Exhale as you place your palms flat and facing inwards in the space between your knees, fingers facing your heels, and keeping shoulders broad to open the chest. Allow your torso to lean forward, but keep your spine should long and straight.
- Next, lengthen the crown of your head up to the sky allowing your gaze to rest above your eyebrows (the third eye point!).
- Finally, open your mouth and stick out your tongue to your chin. On the next exhale, breathe loudly making a ‘Haaaa!’ sound.
- Inhale and repeat 5 times, perhaps getting the kids to do their best lion’s breath impression each round!
Parenthood leaving you a little stressed?
You’ve sorted the little ones with animal yoga poses for kids, but what about yoga for the stresses of parenthood?
Why not try this? 7 Yoga Poses For Stress Relief – Instant And Effective
Or one for the kids- Calming Yoga For Kids: 5 Ideas For A Yoga-Inspired Bedtime