Yoga for Fun and Health
A great non-competitive way to bring exercise into a child's life
If you're looking for a great, non-competitive way to incorporate exercise into a child's life, consider yoga, says certified yoga instructor Helen Garabedian. "Yoga is a structured physical activity that parents and children can do together and that helps them connect," she says, noting that mind-body benefits for youngsters include better sleep, improved digestion, increased listening skills, improved gross and fine motor development and increased self-esteem. "It's cool to give children tools to help them find balance and confidence and control in such a chaotic, stressful world."
Yoga classes tailored specifically for young children are quite different from adult offerings, and a must, advises Garabedian, who notes that classes are typically divided by age groups like infants, crawlers, walkers and so on. Try calling a local yoga studio or two in your area to find the best options for you and your child, and ask about options for older children and teenagers, as well. Garabedian is herself the founder and president of Itsy Bitsy Yoga, which offers classes for infants, toddlers and preschoolers across the country.
In the meantime, try these poses from Helen Garabedian's books, Itsy Bitsy Yoga: Poses to Help Your Baby Sleep Longer, Digest Better and Grow Stronger and Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Toddlers and Preschoolers: 8-Minute Routines to Help Your Child Grow Smarter, Be Happier and Behave Better:
Table pose strengthens arms, legs and torso. It also helps bring an awareness and connection to the core of your being.
1. Start on your hands and knees with palms shoulder-distance apart. Space your knees and feet hip-distance apart.
2. Spread and press your fingers into the floor. Align you hands so that each middle finger is pointing forward.
3. Inhale as you flatten your back like a table.
Child pose brings contentment, and also helps ease constipation troubles.
1. From table pose, drop your bottom to your heels.
2. Stretch your arms as far forward as possible.
3. Invite your forehead to rest on the floor.
Down dog is an all-time favorite pose that gives a child's brain a boost in circulation, improves breathing and strengthens the upper body. For adults, it also removes fatigue and rejuvenates the body.
1. In down dog, you'll make a triangular shape with your body. It's best to give your toddler a profile of the pose as you demonstrate it
2. Begin in Child pose, which sets the proper hand and foot alignment for Down Dog.
3. As you inhale, life your head and hips upward.
4. Begin to exhale as you curl your toes under and straighten your legs.
5. Press your hands downward into the floor. Also press your heels down for a nice Down Dog stretch!
6. Say hi to your toddler before you lower out of your Down Dog pose.
7. If you're pregnant or if Down Dog is a challenge, widen the distance between your feet and bend your knees.