My gosh… how the holidays have totally gotten away with me! I intended to post this SEVERAL WEEKS ago after I taught it at a local elementary school for “Family Health Night.” I had such a good response to it and its a great intro for anyone looking to add yoga into the family routine or classroom and it just takes a few minutes! You can do the entire flow or break it up into small activities. Included with each are links to my resources that I used.
Warm Up and Breathing
I love, love, love demonstrating breathing for kids with a Hoberman Sphere! You have probably seen one of these before and thought, hey, that’s a cool toy! Cool toy indeed! It perfectly demonstrates what happens to our lungs/chest when we take a deep breath in and out! Kids absolutely love opening and closing it themselves and I love to let them pass it around and let them do it with their breath!
This is also an AMAZING calm down activity when your toddler or preschooler is having an epic meltdown – perfect distraction. Talk to your kids about what happens as you breathe in and out, talk about where the air goes into your chest and tummy – (ask where this is) your lungs.”When you breathe in – your chest and then your tummy rises up and fills up like a balloon. When you breathe out your chest and tummy goes back down. Sit for a few breaths feeling your chest then tummies fill up with air and then slowly letting the air out. If you want you can put your hands on your chest and tummy and feel them move up and down.”
Explain to them that this toy (a Hoberman sphere) shows what you are talking about. “When we breathe in, our chest and tummy get bigger. When we breathe out, they get smaller. If you would like you can continue breathing at your own pace or you can breathe in as I make the ball bigger and then breathe out as I make the ball smaller. We will repeat this a few times.” Pass it around and let them try for themselves! As I was saying, meltdown in progress? Have them sit and take deep breaths with the sphere – gives them a new focus and breathing does wonders for calming big and little kids alike!
Fun and Easy Sun Salutation
I wish I could take credit for this family/kid friendly sun salutation, but I can’t! I found this in an amazing book called “Yoga Games for Children!”
I seriously can’t speak highly enough of this book! It breaks everything down for you. And I love this graphic of the sun salutation – short and simple and you can make copies and let the kids color it when they are done! I will post an image later that you can print – just have to get a clean copy scanned in! So here is how I teach this flow to kids and parents (check out the book for more tips too!)…
A sun salutation would be a way to greet the sun. Or I like to think of it as a way to thank the sun for everything it provides – to take in its energy and move around.
Here is where we are going to start – our STARTING POSITION. This is MOUNTAIN POSE. Both feet firmly planted on the ground. Arms can be at your side or they can be palms together at your chest.
I MAKE A CIRCLE NICE AND ROUND. Move your arms up as you take a deep breath in and then slowly lower them back down as you breathe out. Lets do that again. Big and round, just like the sun!
NOW WE STOMP HARD ON THE GROUND. Feel how strong the earth is beneath us. Stomp, stomp, stomp. Can we stomp to the back of our mats?
I BEND AND WALK ON MY HANDS THEN STOP. Bend over and reach towards your toes then put your hands on the ground and walk them out in front of you until you make a triangle with your back and legs.
NOW I AM A TRIANGLE WITH MY BOTTOM ON TOP. Keep your legs straight and back straight. Stretch in our DOWNWARD DOG.
From here we slowly go to our hands and knees, I’M A LION BIG AND STRONG. Let’s hear everyone’s lion’s roar!
NOW I’M STRETCHING LEAN AND LONG. Can you balance and bring one arm out in front like you are pointing at something, looking straight ahead? Stretch through your fingers! For extra challenge try to lift your opposite leg up too!
NOW I HIDE! Slowly we come down to CHILD’S POSE. Take a breath here and relax.
And then, just like peek-a-boo, HERE I AM! Use your arms to push you up and back into a squat. Just like a FROG!
NOW I STAND. Slowly rise up to your big, tall mountain pose – deep breathe in as you rise.
I SPIN WILLY-NILLY. Put your arms out wide and swing them side to side, or, if you can stay on your mat, you can turn all the way around.
Now STOP! AND TRY TO LOOK SILLY! Pick your own silly pose and hold it!
I repeated this several times such that everyone got a hang of it and could move through them all. Remember not all kids (and grown ups) will get all poses, and that’s OK! Same with parents too! Just as long as they are doing it to the best of their ability!
Since we worked on focusing on our breathing at the beginning, I like to come back around to reinforce and practice further. This is often called “Zen Meditation,” but the primary focus is your breath.
Have your kids lay somewhere comfortable, dim the lights, and let them get settled. Have them place their hands on their chest or tummy, or one on the chest and one on the tummy. Guide them through the first few breaths, counting the breath will sometimes help in this situation to slow both yourself and them down. “Breathe in, one, two, three..” “Breathe out, one, two, three..” repeat as necessary, asking kids to feel their hands moving up and down with their chest and tummy as they breathe in and out. Then have them focus on their own. Remind them (and again, yourself) that as they lay there, just listen to their breath, concentrating on their hand up and down with their breath. If they start to think of something else, go back to their breath and their hands. Let everyone (and yourself) relax and breathe for a few minutes. Then slowly wake and come to your closing.
I would love to know y’alls thoughts and resources that you use! I am going to be adding a resource tab soon! Plus its always good to know what works and doesn’t work!