Yoga for Kids!
The winter months are upon us and it’s harder for kids to find ways to go outside and play. School is also in full gear and it can be very stressful for young ones. Yoga is the perfect activity for kids to do to help them de-stress, unwind, stay active and keep their minds and bodies healthy and fit. Here’s a sequence of fun poses children can do on their own, with a friend or sibling, or with a parent. Yoga can help kids feel energized and ready to tackle their homework and any other task. If you’re looking for a fun gift to give your kids this holiday season, my BENDIGIRL DVD is super fun!
Cat/Cow Pose—I love doing this pose with kids to warm up their spines and strengthen their tummies. It’s also a great pose to break the ice by making sounds of the cow and the cat in each position. Start on all fours, inhale to lift your head and tail at the same time; then exhale to tuck under your tail and round your head in to your chest. In cow pose you want to drop your tummy and chest towards the floor and in cat you want to use your abdominals to round your back as much as you can towards the ceiling. Arch and round the spine 8 to 10 times.
Camel Pose—Come to a kneeling position and tuck your toes underneath you. Place your hands on your lower back as you lift your chest up to the ceiling and arch your upper body back. Eventually you may be able to grab your heels. Make sure to breathe in this pose and feel how it opens up your heart.
Triangle Pose—Triangle is a great standing posture that will stretch the sides and waist and strengthen the legs. It’s also super fun to do in between jumping jacks. After every 3 jumps, hop your feet open and turn your right toes out and your left toes slightly in; then dip to your side and place your right hand on your shin as you look up to your left hand. Come up to stand and do 3 more jumps, then hop open to triangle on the left side. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Tree Pose—Tree pose helps kids learn how to focus and balance. Start standing with both feet firmly planted. Place your right foot on your inner left thigh and turn the knee out to the side. Bring your hands together in prayer at your chest and pick a spot on the floor to focus on. Hold 5-8 breaths then try the other side. If you feel like floating your branches (arms) upwards to test your balance more you can! In tree pose your feet root down and you stay true to yourself while letting your branches extend joy outwards from your heart.
Squat—Stand with your feet a little wider than hip width apart and bend your knees as you lower your torso down between them. Place your hands in prayer at your chest and use your elbows to gently press your knees open to the sides. Stay lifted out of your back and breathe deeply 5 to 8 breaths. Squats are great for building strength in the thighs and abdominals; and alleviating stress on the back and shoulders from carrying heavy backpacks.
Partner Boat—Partner boat is a fun way to strengthen the lower belly and stretch the back of the arms, shoulders and legs. Doing boat together is fun for kids and helps teach cooperation. It’s important to teach children to row their own boat; but also teach them how to navigate the currents together when they partner up to paddle.
Partner Gate Pose—this is a wonderful way to form connections and learn to lean one each other for support. Gate also stretches the shoulders, waist and back, which get sore from carrying heavy backpacks or sitting at a desk all day. Start on your knees about a leg’s length apart from each other. Each one of you step your opposite leg out to the side towards each other and line up your feet in about the same area. Lift your outside arm and lean towards each other until you can grab each other’s hands. Hold and breathe come back to your knees. You can come in to table top to crab walk around each other to do the opposite side.
Table Top—Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Place your hands about 10 inches behind you with your fingers facing your hips. Press in to your hands and feet and lift your body up to form a table. Table top will strengthen your arms and legs and stretch out the front of the body; which often rounds forward and slumps when you’re playing video or computer games and sitting at your desk.
Incline Plank—Imagine yourself like a slide! You can open your chest and use your strong arms to support yourself and imagine a marble rolling from your neck to your toes. Incline plank is similar set up to Table Top, start with hands 10 inches behind but keep your legs extended out in front of you and press your hips up while stretching open the entire front body. Incline plank helps strengthen the wrists for writing and computer use. Opening the chest is also important to counter slouching and wearing back packs which often pulls the upper body forward.
Give your children the best present this holiday season by teaching them how to be present. Yoga is truly a gift and I wish I had discovered it when I was a little girl!
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!