Bodies benefit from regular physical activity and it’s more important than ever to keep kids moving in many ways throughout the day. While you might think of running or weightlifting as a way to get moving, yoga is another amazing way to be active. We talked with Katrina Lien, a certified children’s yoga instructor, about yoga and the importance of moving your body, as well as how you can implement it with your kids.
“Yoga is intended to bring mental, physical, and emotional health and balance through body and mind awareness. Different yoga poses, when performed slowly and carefully, can help you focus on posture, body awareness, and breathing.”
That’s why we created the Grow Your Flow Single Pose Yoga Cards; a dual-language deck of cards with one pose per card to help you focus on and practice one pose at a time.
What is yoga? According to Katrina, yoga is a way to exercise our bodies and mind at the same time, using movement and breathing. The word 'yoga' means 'union.' The union of our thoughts and feelings with our body happens while practicing yoga. Yoga requires your body to move to help with flexibility and strength while your breathing helps to calm and refresh the body and mind.
Why is yoga important? Yoga encourages mindfulness and helps strengthen their physical, emotional, and cognitive development, Katrina says. Practicing yoga provides physical benefits such as increased muscular strength and endurance, improved sleep quality, and increased body awareness and coordination. Emotional and cognitive benefits of practicing yoga include lowered stress, increased focus and concentration, and improved memory and emotional regulation.
Tips and Tricks to Get Started (even with no formal training):
- Read the ‘How to Use’ card in the pack. It explains how to use the cards in 4 simple steps.
- Keep it short. Kids’ sessions should only last 5-10 minutes.
- Always demonstrate the pose and provide positive feedback.
- Make it fun! Try the Tree Pose and encourage kids to ‘wave their branches (arms)’ high.
- Use sounds to encourage movement and participation. Try the Cat/Cow Pose and meow like a cat or moo like a cow.
- Be patient. No need to pose perfectly. Are they having fun? Are they being safe? Great! They’re moving and having a positive experience, which is the goal.
Once you get started, try some of our favorite ways to use them.
Morning Meeting Yoga. Invite kids to get in a comfortable position—either seated in chairs or on the floor. Introduce the activity by telling kids that they will be exploring different ways to recharge their bodies through mindful movements, also called yoga. Ask kids what helps them feel energized or calm, then explain that yoga is a way we can practice breathing mindfully in different poses to focus, recharge, and relax. Pick 1-3 cards and use the instructions to lead kids through mindful movements.
Add Deep Breathing Skills. Deep breathing is a great skill for all kids to learn and yoga is a great opportunity to start teaching the skills. Try one of our favorite animal-inspired breathing techniques after you finish a few different yoga poses:
- Lion Breath: Sit or kneel. Make sure your head is looking forward, your spine is tall, your chest is high, and your shoulders are back. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Open your mouth, eyes wide, and let your breath out with a loud "ROAR."
- Whale Breath: Stand or sit tall and take a deep breath in, hold your breath while you count to 5. Tilt your head up, pretend you’re peeking out of the water and blow all of the air out.
- Dragon Breath: Sit or kneel. Make sure your head is looking forward, your spine is tall, your chest is high, and your shoulders are back. Next, close your eyes. Keep your mouth closed. Breathe in slowly through your nose and silently count to 8. Hold that air in your body while you silently count to 2. As you let the air out, open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue while you count to 5. Imagine you are releasing fire like a dragon.
Brain Break! Keep your Grow Your Flow yoga cards on a binder ring. When it’s time for a brain break, randomly pick a card and use it for your brain break.
Pose of the Day. Choose one pose as your pose of the day and practice it periodically with your kids throughout the day. Focusing on one pose throughout the day gives your kids multiple opportunities to practice that pose and get comfortable with how it feels for their bodies.
Wind Down Before Sleep. Yoga can be used as a great tool to help prepare the body and mind for rest, relaxation, and recovery after a long day. Practice a few poses to stretch out before bed!
Next time you and your kiddos need a little break or you’re looking for an easy way to add some physical activity into your day, grab your yoga cards and give your body the stretch it deserves! You’ll be amazed at how great you feel when you do.
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