As any parent knows, weekday mornings can be difficult to navigate with children. Bleary eyes, hungry stomachs, lost homework, and an ever-ticking clock can quickly lead to tears and tantrums (for all parties involved) and make for a less-than-ideal morning together.
But it’s not all doom and gloom!
Morning yoga for kids is a great way to start the day and surprisingly easy to incorporate into your morning routine.
Although taking time to slow down and ground yourselves might feel like the last thing you need in the heat of the moment, a small shift can make a huge difference. In fact, 10 minutes can be all you need to transform the dreaded school run into a playful, calming, bonding experience for all.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- Benefits of morning yoga for kids
- Morning yoga for kids – dos and don’ts
- 5 yoga poses for kids
- Mindfulness for kids
- Yoga breathing exercises for kids
Ready to jumpstart your kids’ day?
Benefits of morning yoga for kids
Essentially, morning yoga equips kids with some simple tools to feel more relaxed and confident as they head out the door.
Some of the benefits of morning yoga for kids include:
1. Improved focus and attention
Emerging research has demonstrated that yoga and mindfulness can help improve concentration, memory, school performance, classroom behavior and even behavior at home!
Yoga is also increasingly linked to helping children with ADHD, with studies evidencing yoga’s effect on core symptoms such as distraction, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.
2. Reduced stress
Yoga is a powerful tool for reducing symptoms of stress in children and adults alike.
Mindful belly breathing (as opposed to chest breathing) in yoga helps decrease symptoms of stress or anxiety due to its influence on the vagus nerve, which extends from the brainstem all the way to the abdomen via the heart, esophagus, and lungs.
By engaging in slow, abdominal breathing, you can stimulate the vagus nerve and trigger a relaxation response, balancing out the activity between the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system and increasing resilience against stress.
In other words, you can help your kids instill an internal sense of ‘everything is okay’ which they can carry with them throughout the day.
3. Increased physical wellbeing
It’s no secret that yoga has a whole host of incredible health benefits for adults, and this is no different for kids.
Many studies have found that practicing kids yoga helps to improve posture, flexibility, strength, balance, coordination, aerobic capacity, and even motor skills.
Starting your little ones off young can lay the foundations for a healthy lifestyle that they’ll maintain for the rest of their lives.
Morning yoga for kids – dos and don’ts
Ultimately, there is no wrong or right way to do morning yoga; simply do what makes you and your family feel happy and comfortable, and make it work around your schedule.
However, we’ve compiled a handy list of dos and don’ts that might help optimize your experience.
- Let them practice in pajamas – this is likely to be most comfortable and will prevent you from having to nag them to change
- Use language that kids can easily understand and relate to
- Incorporate storytelling into the asanas – for instance, try to think of animals that look like certain poses and get your kids to explain what they’re doing. Get creative!
- Let cuddly toys get involved for an extra dose of fun
- Remember that a little goes a long way – whether your practice lasts for 2 minutes or 20 minutes, what’s important is that you’re taking the time to do it
- Practice vigorously on a full stomach
- Have the TV or the radio on in the background. This is a time for going inwards, so the fewer distractions around, the better!
- Let it feel like a chore – keep things light and playful, and don’t force engagement
- Encourage overextension. Kids are naturally more flexible and thus more vulnerable to overextension and injury
5 yoga poses for kids
Now that we’ve established some basic ground rules, you’re ready to try this simple morning yoga flow for kids.
Remember to remind your little ones that yoga is not competitive and they can exit the pose if they experience any discomfort.
#1: Child’s Pose
- Begin on all fours in the center of your mat. Your wrists should be stacked directly under your shoulders, knees stacked directly under your hips (this is known as table pose)
- From here, exhale and lower your hips so that they are resting on your heels, toes untucked so that the tops of the feet are flat against the floor
- Gently bend your torso forward, hinging at the hips and bringing your forehead to rest on the floor. Your sit bones should still be resting on your heels, and your arms relaxed alongside your torso
- Relax the muscles in your face, especially the jaw and forehead
#2: Cat – Cow Pose
- Begin on all fours in the center of your mat in table pose
- Inhale and arch your spine, lifting your sit bones up to the ceiling, your stomach towards the floor and eyes up to the sky
- This is Cat Pose – stay here for another 2-3 breaths
- On the exhale, round your spine and tuck your sit bones under. Roll shoulders in towards your heart and let your chin fall to your chest
- Stay here for 2-3 deep breaths and add some meowing sounds to the exhales!
- This is Cow Pose – stay here for another 2-3 breaths
- Repeat these steps and alternate between Cat and Cow
#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
- 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 your best cobra impression!
#4: 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 long and straight
- Next, lengthen the crown of your head up to the sky
- Finally, open your mouth and stick out your tongue. On the next exhale, breathe loudly making a roaring ‘Haaaa!’ sound
#5: Forward Fold
- Begin at the front of the mat in Mountain Pose with your hands at your hips
- Gently bend your knees and on an exhale, hinge your hips to fold your torso down and over your thighs
- Drift your hands down. You may find them resting on the earth, or hanging loosely near the ground.
- Inhale and lengthen your spine. Exhale, straighten your legs and lift your kneecaps
- Lengthen your neck and extend the crown of your head down towards your mat
Mindfulness for kids
This fun and easy exercise combines introspection and mindfulness. The goal is to encourage kids to ground themselves and pay attention to their 5 senses, rather than being wrapped up in their own thoughts.
Give it a go!
1. Acknowledge 5 things you see around you
2. Acknowledge 4 things you can touch. It could be your hair, a pillow, or the ground under your feet
3. Acknowledge 3 things you hear. This could be outside of your body – such as wind, footsteps, or someone else’s voice – or inside your body – maybe a rumbling stomach, the sound of your breath or the sound you make when swallowing
4. Acknowledge 2 things you can smell. Coffee? Someone’s perfume or deodorant? Toothpaste? Sun cream?
5. Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like? What did you eat for breakfast? Have you brushed your teeth?
3 yoga Breathing exercises for kids
Ready to have a giggle together? Forget about looking silly and throw yourself into these fun breathing exercises…
#1: Dragon Breathing
- Go to the floor on all fours, as if you were a dragon
- Take a deep breath through your nose
- Open your mouth as wide as possible and stick your tongue out
- Exhale and throw your fiery breath to the sky! Ouch!
#2: Bumble Bee Breathing
- Inhale through your nose
- Breathe out with your mouth closed and hummmmmm like a bee
- Repeat this breathing sequence for a few minutes
#3: Balloon Breathing
- Imagine your belly is a balloon of your favorite color
- As you inhale through the nose, expand the belly to inflate it like a balloon
- As you exhale through the mouth, deflate the balloon entirely
- Repeat this a few times and ask your child how they feel afterwards
Hopefully, this article has equipped you with some easy techniques to transform a stressful morning into a playful and creative experience.
Check out ‘Calming Yoga For Kids: 5 Ideas For A Yoga-Inspired Bedtime‘ and ‘6 Best Animal Yoga Poses For Kids‘ for even more yoga-related tips and tricks to help inspire your little ones.