Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kid's Yoga

I love finding new ways to implement "yoga" into the kid's day. These activites can be wonderful to get attention or help them refocus. A little silliness can go a long way. :)
Kids yoga is a wonderful way to teach your kids about their bodies and show them how to have fun with exercise and breath. This also helps with social skills when you have a group- there are some wonderful "games" you can implement into your kids yoga if there are groups. Always help child know the pose itself isn't important- but how it makes them feel. Their own stretch is important and they might do things differently from others in the class but that is ok. In any pose help them focus on their body not what everyone else can do. Don't do it if it hurts! In yoga, and in most exercise, you should listen to your body. Pain=stop.
In most yoga classes you start with breath connection and the sun salutations, then you work through a series of poses ending in shavasana or dead man's pose where you relax for 10 minutes or so. With kids that sitting still can be trouble. SO be patient and consistent. Ask them to try things, but if it isn't working leave it be and try again another day. Let this experience be about bonding with their bodies, bonding with you or other kids, and FUN!
Here are just a few to start off with. I am going to have to do a second post. :) Remember you don't have to be technical or picky about how they do each pose- especially in the beginning. You can also use one or two poses and inhale/exhale through them connecting steady breath with the pose.
Counting breath- Sitting or standing have the child take in breaths for different counts. 1-out. 1-2-out. 1-2-3 out. You can do MANY different varieties of this. The child will learn to understand his lung power and can extend his breath or just relax. Set goals for next time- or just do it for fun. I even use this to help Corban calm down "anywhere, anytime"- I will just ask him to take some deep breaths.
Belly Waves Breath Exercise - Have the child lie on his back. Take one of your child's small toys and place it on his belly. Have him take deep slow breaths while trying to make the toy swim (rise and fall)- you can do slow long breaths or let the child experiment with fast, medium, and slow breaths. You can ask them how each breath made them feel.
Sunrise/Sunset- like a sun salutation you can use the sun as your imagery or pick something else (basic- reach for the ceiling-reach for the floor or toes) You can make this slow or fast. Have them reach up like they are going to catch the sun and then tell them the sun is going down and they can follow it to the floor.
Cobra or snake pose- The kids lie on their belly like a snake and raise their bodies up curving like a snake (hips stay on the floor, chest comes up)- Hands are on the floor and push down to help support their chest.
Puppy- Down Dog. Ok. We call this puppy because we use the term puppy for Corban sometimes. He loves to pretend he is a puppy. I use snake and puppy together (like in regular yoga you do up dog into down dog. Down dog is hands and feet on the floor (push up pose distance apart) with the hips in the air straight at the ceiling. So they look like a triangle on the floor.
I try to combine (now that Corb knows most of the poses) to create his own sun salutation. Here is a link to an animated sun salutation. This is similar to the one I use in my own practice. There are MANY different ways to use/do yoga. Everyone seems to think their way is the chosen way. :) I say, find what works for you.
Hissing Cat or roaring lion- Get on hands and knees and they are going to breath in and out while they curve or arch their spine. It is usually inhale round the spine up to the sky, exhale (this is where you hiss or roar) arch your back and your belly moves toward the floor. Kids love this one!
Gorilla/Monkey- Stand hunched over, arms long toward the ground. The kids love the movement in this exercise. you have them grunt like a gorilla while raising the hands in (imagine trying to pick something up) to the chest/armpits. They bend their knees and bound sideways across the room and back. In a group let them take turns being the leader. They have to pay attention- long pauses, or quick directions changes.
Rocking Horse- Child lies on their belly, bends knees, and grasps ankles one at a time. In yoga we are trying to open the chest a lot. This one can take some time for the kid to be flexible enough to grab ankles. Then push the legs up and this opens the chest you can rock many directions.
Peddle laughing- lie on your back and have your child follow your lead then let them have a turn. Peddle like riding a bike- peddle, laugh, peddle, laugh, peddle- etc This is so funny.
Eyes Around the Clock- Take an analog clock place it at eye level for your child. Basically you will have them look up, down, left, right, etc. If they know their numbers you can ask them to look for that number. Stretches eye muscles. You can integrate time telling.
Flamingo- Balance and focus. Mimic a flamingo stance leg back or up sort of like the traditional tree pose. It helps if they have a focal point- something that will not move (spot on the wall or floor) then they can spread their arms like wings.
Sleeping man- (Shavasana/dead man's pose)- you can use a shortened relaxation exercise and then they lie on their backs and use the belly breath trying to hold still as if they are asleep. This is usually the final pose. See how long they will hold still and then try again and again. Don't get frustrated, let them learn. They will be able to hold still longer over time.
Group Activities- These are great if you have a ton of neighbor kids over being crazy and you need something to grab their attention. I am sure you will think of more- please share.
Garden- This is my FAVORITE! We do this almost everytime and you can do this with just one kid or with 20. Tell the kids you are going to plant a garden/ do yard work. Have them get into Rock pose and tell them they are a seed. Ask each kid what kind of seed he or she is. You can have a theme (flowers, fruits, veggies, etc) if you like. After each child names their seed you decide where to plant them. You take them from their mat, while they try to stay in rock pose, and place them randomly about the room. Then you have to cover them with dirt (just pat their back), and then need rain (gently tap your fingers all over them), and they need the sun to help them grow (rub their backs- warm like the sun). Then you get to stand back and watch them grow. They gradually stand and reach for the sky. This one is so fun. The kids want to do it over and over.
Rollercoaster- sit in a line with legs apart, holding the waist of the one in front of them. Lean as you speed downhill, right, left, etc. They follow the leader, raising arms and leaning. Take turns who is in front. Helps kids learn patience (follow leader and wait turn) and they get to be creative.
Any questions?
Any ideas? Would you like more? Let me know.
I know this post is WAY too long.


Andrea said...

It would only be too long if it were useless information, silly! I say, too short! I am excited to try these with my kids. I am most excited that we can all benefit (I'll feel like I have done SOMETHING decent for my body, while the kids will think I am playing with them). Thanks!

Marianne said...

Wow! Thanks so much Rachael! I can't wait to try it out! This was sooooooooo helpful!