The coronavirus pandemic has put our everyday lives on hold, forcing schools to close and kids to spend most of their time inside at home. Even if they have an outdoor space like a backyard available to them, your kid(s) might be starting to go a bit-stir crazy (as you may be, as well).
But don’t worry. Mindfulness and yoga exercises can come to your rescue.
Kids tend to be resilient but can be affected by long-term changes in their daily routines. While you may think you constantly need to come up with ways of entertaining them and keeping them busy during this time, an idea that is mutually beneficial to both you and your kids is mindfulness and yoga exercises for kids.
This can help with the mental and physical symptoms associated with being cooped up.
Mindfulness for Kids
Mindfulness is defined as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment.” While this sounds easy enough, any adult who practices mindfulness will tell you that this is no easy feat.
It can take weeks, months or even years to train your brain to sit quietly and simply focus on the present moment.
For kids, as you can imagine, this is even more difficult. Their brains are wired to be more active, from playing with toys, exploring new obstacles, or simply running around to let off steam. However, the benefits can be exponential.
- Help them with patience and compassion
- Deal with tough emotions, like anger, frustration and anxiety
- Can help boost focus and self-control
6 Yoga Postures for Kids
Yoga for kids is a great way for your kid(s) to expend some of that pent-up energy but can also be a great mindfulness trick for them to start practicing.
That’s why we have compiled six “animal yoga poses” you can teach your kid(s). They can practice all of these exercises with or without your supervision. These are also great exercises for you and an excellent way to spend quality time together.
- To get the most benefit, encourage them to try to hold each pose for 10 seconds and take deep breaths while doing so.
- We recommend using a mat, blanket or towel on the floor to make these as comfortable as possible.
Explain to them that the key is to focus on their senses and their breathing.
You can also start with a game and ask your kid(s) if they want to play “Noah’s Ark.” Start by seeing how many animals they can name, discuss their unique characteristics and the sounds they make before going into yoga poses.
Elephant Pose/ Ragdoll Pose
A great way to warm up is with the elephant pose/ rag doll pose.
- Instruct your child(ren) to stand with their feet shoulder-width apart
- Invite your child(ren) to bend forward from the waist, keeping their arms outstretched, so they hang in front of them.
- Instruct them to hold this pose, and tell them they can sway their ‘trunk’ back and forth like an elephant. For fun, get them to let out their elephant call.
- To loosen up, the child(ren) can fold their arms with their hands on opposite elbows. They can hang and swing like this to loosen the vertebrae.
- To practice this position, invite your child(ren) to create a triangle position with their bodies.
- Ask them to place their toes on the ground along with their hands flat down in front of them, while the rest of their body is up in the air so they create a triangle shape.
- For young kids, ask them what shape they are making in order to squeeze some extra “school” into the practice.
This one requires some good balancing skills, and your kids are sure to enjoy trying to get this one right.
- Invite your child(ren) to stand up straight, bring one foot up to knee level, and rest it against the side of their other leg.
- Instruct the child(ren) to place their palms together and hold them in front of their chest as if in prayer.
- Encourage your child(ren) to focus on one spot in the room and count how long he/she/they can hold it.
- Invite your child(ren) to sit on the floor and bring their feet together like a yogi.
- Ask him/her/them to place their hands on their knees or together in front of them as they hold the pose.
- You can have him/her/them move his/her/their knees up and down to mimic fluttering “butterfly wings.”
Cobra snake pose
- Invite your child(ren) to lay on the ground, face down.
- Instruct them to bring their arms up while resting their hands flat on the ground in front of them.
- Then, invite them to stretch their upper back by pushing their chest out as much as possible without hurting their lower back.
The swan pose has a similar starting position as the cobra snake pose.
- Invite your child(ren) to get in the same position as the cobra but attempt to bring their legs upwards and point their toes.
- As they arch their back, you can tell them they want to try and touch the back of their head to their toes.
Benefits of Yoga for Kids
No one is quite sure how long it will be until life returns to normal. These mindfulness yoga exercises can help your child(ren) deal with unsettling emotions and the pent-up energy they are bound to have while stuck at home. Plus, the long-term benefits will remain with them long after they return to their normal, daily routines. There is never a better time than now to introduce yoga and mindfulness into your kids’ lives.
Did you enjoy this article? Check out our post on the best yoga poses for back pain!