With all the technology during the past year, kids need a much-needed mindfulness break away from their screens. Fortunately, we have many effective tools to help our children practice mindfulness, such as yoga.
Yoga offers so many incredible benefits to our children including a time for inner focus, a way to connect to their bodies, a retreat from the pressures and stress of daily life, and even an opportunity to enjoy a bit of silliness to lighten the moment. Studies in recent years have shown how yoga can reduce stress and anxiety and boost mood. Children need relaxing breaks like yoga to help keep them happy and balanced. When we tie in nature with yoga, the benefits are even more impressive.
Whether you practice yoga together at home as a family or look for children’s yoga classes in your community or online, the important thing is to make sure that it is fun. We know that kids love animals. Whether they are learning animal sounds as a toddler, reading stories about animal characters, enjoying watching animals at the zoo, or spending time with a lovable pet, animals bring tons of joy to most children.
We can also incorporate fun animal themes into their yoga practice, such as:
- Children pretend that a small furry animal is moving from one part of their body to another when they do a body scan.
- Rename poses: Cobra pose becomes Carmen Chameleon, Pigeon pose is Eagle, Garland pose is called Chicken.
- Ask children to meow during Cat pose and moo during Cow pose.
- During tree pose, they can envision birds or squirrels sitting on their branches (i.e., arms and shoulders).
- Focus on fun poses that mimic animals, such as lion pose (they get to roar, too!), cobra pose, downward facing dog, and fish pose.
Giselle Shardlow, children’s author and founder of Kids Yoga Stories, develops books, card decks, posters, games, and teaching resources for children to explore yoga. To make yoga really enjoyable for kids, she creates yoga poses based on the movements of animals. For example, she has a set of yoga pose cards about animals with tails that include the following: stingray (Warrior 3 Pose), scorpion (Dancer’s Pose), zebra (Triangle Forward Bend), kangaroo (Chair Pose), and chipmunk (Squat Pose).
She finds that kids relate more to the names and images of animals than the traditional yoga pose names. This also opens the door for children to develop their own yoga moves based on their experiences in nature, which helps them be in tune with nature through their body, senses, and breath. You can find all of her animal yoga pose cards here. There are tons of themes to choose from!
The other terrific part about incorporating animals into our children’s yoga routine is that it helps them connect to nature, which can improve their overall well-being. Even better, if they can practice these yoga moves outdoors, they will reap the incredible healing benefits of nature. According to mothernatured.com, doing yoga outdoors helps children build animal empathy, strengthen their connection to their surrounding environment, enhance their knowledge of the natural world, and stimulate their senses.
To learn more about animal yoga poses for your family, check out these adorable books:
Yoga Animals: A Wild Introduction to Kid-Friendly Poses by Paige Towler
Yoga Animals At the Seashore and Yoga Animals In The Forest by Christian Kerr
You Are a Lion!: And Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo
Animal Yoga by Sarah Bradshaw and Anna Kubaszewska
Kid’s Yoga (Animal Poses) Coloring Book: A Fun coloring book Filled With Cute YOGA Lover Theme by We Kids