Here are 10 tips to help you in sharing yoga for babies and toddlers. Even if you have never practiced yoga, you can still introduce kids to simple poses.
As a children’s yoga teacher for over ten years, I am often asked to share advice on how to teach yoga to babies and toddlers. Parents are dubious as to how young children can sit still to practice yoga. After all, at that age kids are prone to temper tantrums, find it hard to wait or make choices, and they can’t understand reason or control their impulses. The good news is that they love to copy adults, in both appearance and activity. Thus, yoga can become a fun bonding activity for you and your child.
Even if you have never practiced yoga, you can still be a role model by introducing children to simple yoga poses such as Queen pictured below. This posture is my ‘go to’ pose when first teaching yoga to toddlers and their parents, as it simply involves standing tall and breathing. It is important to remind children to focus on breathing in and out through the nose while practicing yoga postures; doing so increases lung capacity and helps to prevent the fight-or-flight response that occurs from mouth breathing.
YOGA FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS
Here are ten basic tips to guide you through sharing yoga with babies and toddlers:
1.) Make sure that children do not eat a big meal right before doing yoga; it is best not to have a full stomach when practicing yoga because many of the poses twist across glands and internal organs.
2.) Pick a quiet place to do yoga with kids; a yoga mat can help to create personal space to do the poses but is not necessary. Kids can practice on a soft carpet or use a beach towel.
3.) Children should practice yoga postures at their own pace and rest at any time.
4.) It is best not to adjust children in the poses; rather, let them feel the postures in a way that makes sense for their own body.
5.) The main focus of teaching yoga to young children is to expose them to simple yoga poses to help them connect with their bodies, learn how to calm themselves, focus and concentrate, and get physical activity at the same time.
6.) There is no magic number of yoga poses to practice in order to get the most out of yoga for babies and toddlers; just sitting and breathing in Easy Pose (pictured below) can be enough yoga for one day.
7.) Just as there is no magic number of yoga poses to do in one session, there is no definitive length of time to hold each posture. Anywhere from 8-15 seconds is a good place to start for young children.
8.) For babies and toddlers, there are no strict time parameters for practicing yoga; even 3 to 5 minutes a day doing some basic yoga poses will go a long way toward establishing a routine of healthy physical activity.
9.) Babies are natural yogis (people who practice yoga), as they instinctively do certain poses as part of their natural range of motion. Parents can gently help babies do simple postures such as Butterfly pictured below.
10.) Lastly, the key to instilling a desire in young children to take up yoga lies in making it fun for them. If kids enjoy their yoga practice, they will stay engaged with it and reap its benefits: fitness, relaxation, concentration, and awareness.