Exploring Yoga for Children

March 8, 2019

You will not see rows of children on their yoga mats calmly following the hero, tree or triangle poses in a children’s yoga class! Not only is this unrealistic but it is also not the goal. Yoga (especially family and children’s yoga) should not be used to make perfect pictures to be shared on social networks.

Detach from the fruit of your actions

Yoga for children is fun and energetic. It must be practiced in an open space in which one can perfect the asanas (poses) in a fun, playful, calm and amusing way, without any specific expectations. One of the paths of yoga, karma-yoga, teaches that one must detach oneself from the fruits of the action. That is to say, it is necessary to take action, without hoping for a specific result.

This is a path to cultivate in yoga with children, where the phrase “sowing seeds” makes sense. Yoga is an extraordinary tool that is relevant in our modern lives, from an early age. But we must give children the chance to experiment and to take ownership of this tool at their own pace and in their own way. It is perfectly fine to sow seeds without knowing what will germinate, and when. Do not be afraid to let children choose the meaning they will or will not give to their own practice.

Cultivate inner calm

It would be tempting to try to make yoga a daily habit for our children, to help them enjoy all its benefits (and they are real). In our fast-paced world, we are constantly bombarded with stimuli and our children are not exempt from this.

Yoga and breathing exercises are ways to learn to question yourself, to observe yourself and to be present with yourself. But it’s not magic; it is through regular practice that the benefits are fully felt. So, is it a good idea to integrate yoga into the family routine?

Practicing yoga at home

I will tell you a secret: my children do not do yoga at home, at least not on a regular basis. This was my biggest dilemma as a yoga teacher with children: should I start a regular family practice? I decided against it. I did not want it to become an obligation that would be added to the “to-do” list.

However, my children see me practice every day. I lead workshops in their classes. They sometimes help me in the family yoga workshops at Le Monastère des Augustines. And they sometimes ask me to do a session with them. My son, for example, sometimes asks me to do some poses with him before bedtime to help him fall asleep. My daughters, meanwhile, opt for the game Yoga Spinner, which is a big hit with my tribe. It warms my heart every time they request it and it meets their needs.

Enjoy some good quality family time

So back to our question: can and should we integrate yoga into the family routine? I think it is always a good idea to offer it, but never to impose it. You must enjoy good times with your children. If they are not receptive, then stop, without reproach or judgment.

Starting with a breathing exercise is a good idea to create a calm environment. You can play some soft music and choose a few poses depending on the time of day. Some asanas, like the “hero”, are better in the morning; others like the “forceps” can bring attention to themselves and can prepare the child to sleep. There are also games and stories related to yoga practices. Lastly, remember that nothing is magic, but that by practicing regularly, we show our children that there are tools to help them stay connected to themselves, regardless of life’s ups and downs. And that is priceless.