10 yoga stretches and poses for kids
Here we list ten yoga poses that are safe and easy to get your children started. These poses are not in a particular sequence, but we’ve indicated the stretches you should do together, at the beginning and end of the practice. You can choose a few of these poses to master or cycle through them all, spending a minute or two on each. In any case, your child should never push themselves or do anything that hurts. It may even be advisable to consult a specialist before having a child take on a new exercise routine.
- Mountain Pose
A great pose to begin with, this is the foundation of most standing stretches. Begin with feet planted firmly on the ground, big toes touching but heels slightly apart. Arms should be by your side with hands facing forwards. The back of your head, neck and back should be straight and aligned. Hold this pose for at least one minute. It will set you up for the rest of your practice.
- Upward Salute
In Mountain Pose, take a deep breath in. Upon exhaling, raise the arms up, bringing the palms together overhead. Your shoulders should be in line with your arms. So keep your arms parallel above your head if your shoulders and arms can’t line up when your palms are touching. This is a straightforward pose for children to try and it’s grounding.
- Cat Pose
It’s always good to get kids’ imagination going and poses named after animals do just that! For Cat Pose, get down on hands and knees, then curl the spine upwards. This should involve drawing the head and shoulders in towards the stomach. Bonus points for the best meow!
- Cow Pose
Cow Pose goes hand in hand with Cat Pose; they’re most beneficial when done together in sequence. From Cat Pose, round the spine in the other direction, with shoulders open and head facing upwards. To get the benefit of this stretch, alternate with Cat Pose, so you would hold each pose for a few seconds before moving into the other. Watch out for this one, once you tell your little ones to get into ‘Cow Pose’ you may hear some mooing!
- Child’s Pose
Kids will love this one because it’s named after them! Plus, it helps that it’s a relaxing recovery stretch. Get down onto your knees and rest your bottom on your heels. Separate the knees outwards while bending forward so that the chest can either rest on top of or between the knees. Arms are either stretched out in front or back towards the feet. You may have to remind your little ones that they can’t stay in this pose for the whole session!
- Happy Baby
For even younger children, or those that sometimes act like it, get them into the Happy Baby Pose! Lying on the back, bring the knees into the chest. Hold the outsides of the feet, or shins – wherever is comfortable. Open the legs a little wider than the torso, bringing the knees towards the armpits. In this position, rock side to side (like a baby.) This will massage the lower back and is sure to get a few gurgles, even from parents!
- Tree Pose
Rather than emphasizing flexibility, this pose works on balance. Start off in Mountain Pose and put your weight onto either left or right foot. Bend the opposite knee, lifting that foot. Grab your lifted foot and bring it closer to your groin. Plant the sole of the lifted foot against the opposite leg at the ankle, shin or thigh – whichever is most comfortable. At the same time, twist the knee outwards. Toes should be pointing down to the floor. Get kids to concentrate on a fixed point to keep their balance. After holding for a few seconds, release the foot and lower to the floor. Repeat on the opposite side.
Your little one will enjoy seeing how long they can balance without having to put their foot down. There will be some inevitable giggles as they have to drop their foot a few times at the start.
- Cobra Pose
Lying on the floor on your belly, stretch your legs out behind you with the tops of your feet touching the floor. Place the palms of your hands on the floor, under your shoulders. Your elbows should be pointing to the sky. Squeeze them towards one another and use this momentum to lift your chest off the ground. As you lower yourself out of this pose, exhale. Hissing optional!
- Eagle Pose
This one will have your little one all tied in knots! They’ll love the challenge of perfecting this pose and will be sure to have a few giggles. Inn Mountain pose, slightly bend both knees and lift one foot. Try to stay balanced as you cross the lifted thigh over the other. With the toes pointing to the floor, hook the lifted foot around the opposite calf. See if you can get your toes peeking out at the side of the calf.
While still balancing on one foot, stretch your arms straight out in front of you. Cross the opposite arm to the bended leg over the other arm. Bend the elbows so that the forearms lift up. Your palms should be facing away from one another. Now try crossing the forearms and pressing the palms together. Lift the arms towards the sky and hold for 30 seconds. Now try to untangle yourself!
- Corpse Pose
Creep out your kids when you tell them to get into this pose! It may seem like an easy pose, after all, how hard can lying on your back be? Yet, to make this pose effective, you want to achieve total relaxation. This is often difficult enough in itself. Corpse Pose should always be the last position in a yoga sequence as you wind down. You may need some blankets for this, to prop up your head or drape over yourself. Or, pop a sweater on because relaxing lowers the body’s temperature.
This is the only pose on the list which requires you not to move for the most part, because we know that kids can’t always stay still! But, once they’ve gone through all these poses, they will be glad to rest for a while.
To get into the position, sit on your bottom with feet planted on the ground (with knees bent). With a straight back, lean back onto the elbows and then slowly onto the ground. From there, stretch one leg out after the other. Make sure feet are facing away from one another, without forcing them. You should feel relaxed and loose. Arms should be stretched away from your body with the palms of the hands facing upwards. Your head should be resting on the floor and tucked into the back of the neck. Close your eyes, relax the face and let the tongue feel heavy. Concentrate on your breathing, inhaling through the nose and exhaling from the mouth. Stay in this pose for about 5 minutes and try to empty your mind.
To get up, roll onto one side and using the opposite hand, push yourself off the ground into a seated position.