As a youth fitness instructor I am an advocate for helping children love fitness and health at an early age. In my classes (and at home) I encourage kids to explore activity, creative movement, agility, & balance. I believe that keeping kids moving while they're young will help instill a lifelong love of fitness and health.
Yoga offers a unique fitness & health opportunity as it can be done just about anywhere. You don't need to be a Yoga guru to help children build their strength, agility & self confidence. To help inspire you as parents or teachers to keep kids active & healthy I will be sharing some of my favorite Yoga programs, & music for kids of all ages. These programs, Cds, & Dvds are tried and true! I've used them many times in my home with my own children, and in classes I've taught around the country. They come fully scripted for the Yoga novice with delightful stories, and songs. Your kids will want Yoga time EVERY day - so be prepared.
First of all let me introduce you to Kira Wiley from Fireflies Yoga. Kira's CD, Dance for the Sun was my first introduction to teaching yoga to children. I loved her music so much I would play it as background music in my home even when we weren't doing Yoga. I will now be first in line ay any new CD release! One of the things I love about Kira's Cds is that the first 12-14 tracks are just the music, but the last 12-14 tracks have step-by-step choreographed Yoga poses, & stretches to do with your kids to the same songs. Once you've listened to the instructional portion of the CD a few times, and memorize the movement you can just play the first 12-14 tracks without the instructions & viola! You're a professional. :) Or at least you are in your children's eyes. Read more about Fireflies Yoga HERE.
Next allow me to introduce you my newest discovery for children's Yoga instruction - Angel Bear Yoga. As soon as I popped in the Angel Bear Yoga CD, my daughters were mesmerized. Imagine a CD your children can listen to that empowers them, encourages them to strengthen their little bodies & "build charterer through yoga, nature & creative imagery." My 4 year old said once "I wish I could be in that place. I wish it could be real." For a CD to have such good imagery that my 4 year old recognizes it- is amazing! There is a whole slew of resources from Angel bear to help parents & teachers be great children's Yoga instructors. Something I can appreciate very much as a pre-school fitness instructor is props & Angel Bear has some awesome, helpful & kid friendly props! Read more about the Angel Bear Yoga curriculum & props Here.
Now that the secret is out on a few of my favorite teaching tools. I'll let you in on a basic lesson plan structure I use for teaching Yoga to children in my classes & at home.
Any and all of this is interchangeable. It would take an entire website to explain all the variations and possibilities for a parent/child Yoga session. I suggest you try something like the brief outline below & check out the suggested materials for more ideas.
30 min. Parent/Child Yoga Session:
- * Open with calm music such as Mama Nature by Kira Wiley. ( Whatever song you choose, stick with the same opening song every time. Kids LOVE repetition!) Settle your child on his/her yoga mat or towel during the opening song.
- * Begin with breathing practice. I love using essential oils to encourage deep breathing. Kids love the different smells. I also like playing music like Kira Wiley's "Mama Nature" from her CD Kings & Queens of the Forest during breathing practice.
- * Introduce a few poses of the day. Use the Angel Bear Pose Play Deck to show how Angel bear does each pose. Then demonstrate the poses yourself. You could also use this time to share a character trait pose from Angel Bear Yoga (Like Courage). I like to choose something I think my child has done well recently so I can use it in our affirmations at the end.
- * Let your kids practice those same poses with music. Play 2 songs from Kira Wiley's CD like "Kings & Queens of the Forest", & "Mr. Cricket Hop." or whatever song that would reinforce the poses that were just introduced by you and Angel Bear.
- * Act out a story using Yoga poses as directed in the Angel Bear Yoga curriculum. Children love the imaginative play involved with acting out a story. Often they don't realize we're working on strengthening and stretching their little bodes at the same time!
- * Settle back down using the same breathing techniques taught at the beginning of your lesson. Again, using essential oils encourages children to take deeper breaths.
- * Have your child lay back on his/her mat for relaxation time. Use the Flax Seed eye pillow like the one that comes in the Angel Bear Yoga kit to cover your child's eyes. I like to keep several on hand. As my child relaxes with the closing song or story I lay the eye pillows on his/her wrists or ankles. The gentle weight of the flax seed bags can be very soothing for children.
- * Play a relaxation story from the Angel Bear Yoga CD, or a closing relaxation song like "Namaste" from Kira Wiley's Dance with the Sun CD.
- * Give lots of hugs. Have them tell you something that they think makes them great. Tell you child something YOU think makes them great! Namaste.
As Sydney Solis from Storytime Yoga says, "Let’s join together to raise happy children in healthy families all while healing ourselves and realizing our own potential. Here's to kid's yoga!"