Namaste: The Benefits of Toddlers Practicing Yoga
The benefits of yoga are far-reaching, but did you know it's a great practice for toddlers, too?
Did you know that yoga is a great way for toddlers to get some exercise and develop their imagination at the same time? We all know that our little ones have an over-abundance of energy, and while yoga might not reduce energy levels, it does help to channel it in a healthy direction. Yoga is a soothing way for toddlers to relieve stress and tension, and parents often find their children’s frustration is easier to deal with after they start doing yoga together.
According to Helen Garabedian, author of Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers, the benefits don’t stop there. She has found that toddlers who practice yoga have fewer tantrums, improved digestion, increased listening skills and better sleep, amongst other benefits.
Here are some easy yoga poses that are perfect for toddlers:
Lion’s Breath: (A great way to get your child to breathe deeply during stressful situations) To do Lion’s Breath, have your toddler inhale deeply, then exhale in a “roar” with her mouth wide open and tongue out. You may feel a little silly explaining it to your child at first, but it really helps children to expel stress and catch their breath.
Cat Cow: (Stretches torso and neck, gently massages spine and internal organs) Lay down on your back. Start in table pose by kneeling on hand and knees. Make sure hands are below shoulders, and knees are below hips. Inhale, look up to the ceiling, and allow your belly to sink toward the floor (cow pose). Exhale, round your back towards the ceiling, and look at your belly (cat pose). Have kids meow in cat pose and moo in cow pose to encourage breathing.
Downward-Facing Dog: (To encourage breathing, have kids bark in this pose) They can pretend to be big dogs, little dogs, etc). Begin on hands and knees, in table pose. Curl toes under. Exhale, straighten knees, and lift hips. Hold this position as you let your head hang down and breathe. To release, exhale and bring knees to the floor. Relax in child’s pose. For a fun variation or to increase difficulty, continue to three-legged doggy pose.
Tree Pose: Stand on one leg, the other foot resting on the side of the supporting leg’s shin. You may have to assist on this one for a while until they can balance on their own!
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