By Peggy J. Richard
Kids Beginner Yoga Routine
Besides being fun and relaxing, did you know that just a few minutes a day of yoga stretches can improve flexibility and increase focus? Use your imagination and try some of these beginner yoga postures with your kids or students! These can be performed in both virtual and in-person settings.
Things to keep in mind: Yogic breathing is mostly nasal breathing unless indicated otherwise. Anything you do on one side of the body is repeated on the opposite side in order to maintain a sense of balance throughout the body. Many benefits of yoga can be enjoyed with mental practice as well.
- Stand tall with your feet pointing straight and touching.
- Tighten leg muscles as you inhale and raise your arms to the sides above your head, clasp hands and point index fingers toward the sky.
- Relax your shoulders down away from your head, focus on your breath. Your eyes can stay open or if you are feeling balanced, you can allow your eyes to close softly as you inhale and exhale slowly.
- Visualize your entire body as a tall, strong, mountain. It might be a grassy mountain covered with beautiful flowers, or an icy snow-capped peak. It can be however you envision it.
- After 3-5 inhales and exhales, allow your hands to release and float down to your sides. Shake out your legs. How did it feel to become a mountain? If you wish, draw a picture of the mountain you pictured in your mind
- Kneel and raise your upper body off your lower legs.
- Extend one leg out to the side diagonally, pointing the toe to the side as well.
- Raise both arms above your head, then release the arm on the same side as the extended leg, and slide it down the leg keeping it extended in a diagonal.
- Feel the stretch on the opposite side of the torso and focus on the breath. After 1-3 slow inhales and exhales, repeat on the opposite side.
This is a fun and challenging stretch kids love.
- Kneel and raise your upper body off your lower legs.
- Put your hands low on the back, fingers pointing down.
- Look upward and keep the neck long.
- Bring hands to heels, keeping the thumbs on the outsides of the feet.*
*Hands can stay on the low back, or It can be done with one hand extending to heel instead of both as a variation.
1.Begin on your hands and knees, stretching your head and neck straight out from your body so that you could place an object on either your back or neck and it wouldn't fall.
2. Focus on the breath, inhaling and exhaling slowly through the nose. On an exhale, drop your chin toward your chest and gaze in the direction of your belly button, arching your back into a cat stretch.
3. As you inhale, allow the belly to drop toward the floor as you shift your gaze toward the ceiling, feeling the stretch on the front of the neck. Move back and forth between the cat and cow stretches in alignment with your breath, looking up on the inhale, and down on the exhale.
Yoga is fun from your eyes to your toes.
Eye strain is a huge challenge during this time. Screens and digital learning have stretched our eyeballs to the max, and they deserve some exercise too! Try these fun moves out and your eyes will thank you.
- Sit cross-legged or in a chair. Straighten your back and then imagine there is an invisible string coming out of the top of your head. Pull the imaginary string upward and notice that you are sitting a little taller than you were before.
- Focus your gaze straight ahead and then squeeze your eyes tightly shut for one or two seconds, then open them.
- Without moving your head or neck, shift your gaze to the ceiling and then down to the floor a few times slowly. Rotate your eyeballs in a circular motion in both directions, again without moving the head or the neck. Try moving them diagonally, top left to bottom right or vice versa.
- Extend one arm straight out in front of you with your thumb sticking out; move the arm slowly without bending it and follow your thumb with your eyes only. Keep that head still!
- What other eye exercises can you come up with?
You will need a small fuzzy pom pom or cotton ball and bare feet for these activities.
Begin by placing the pom pom on the floor. Gently place the bottom of your foot above the pom pom and very lightly circle your foot on it, like a tiny fuzzy massage. After making a few circles, change direction and circle the other way, then move your foot in a straight line on the pom pom, forward and backward. Next, attempt to pick it up from the floor using only your toes. Repeat all with the other foot.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Allow your body to become heavy as if it is sinking into a soft, puffy cloud. Let the cloud support you as your body becomes totally relaxed. The cloud begins to lift off the ground, carrying you to the place where you feel most peaceful. It could be a real or imaginary place, perhaps your bedroom, your backyard, the beach, or a secret garden that exists only in your mind. A gentle breeze blows as the cloud drifts toward your peaceful place, and you can feel rays of sun warming you. Your mind feels clear; any thoughts that arrive simply float away in the breeze. You can hear music coming from below; the notes create a feeling of calm that washes over you like a melodic waterfall. As you near the peaceful place the cloud begins to return to the ground, its featherweight billows cushioning you. You realize that you can return to this place, to this feeling, at any time, simply by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath.
Sun breath: Stand tall. Reach up with both hands inhaling through your nose and grasp an imaginary sun. Pull your hands vigorously in towards your heart saying "hot" with an open mouth. Repeat 3-5 times.
Volcano breath: Stand tall and press your palms together in front of your heart. Push your palms together forcefully and then open upward on an inhale to “erupt” your volcano. *A fun variation is to press two fingers together in a baby volcano.
Great Links with videos and more!
Cosmic Yoga www.cosmickids.com
YoReMi Yoga www.yoremekids.com
Peggy J. Richard is a bilingual early childhood educator and holds multiple certifications in yoga instruction. She has taught kids yoga in a variety of settings since 2002, and has published articles in community parenting magazines. She also consults with other educators on mindfulness and the brain for tweens.