Yoga for all ages

I’ve been struggling to decide what, if anything, to post during these difficult times. So, please remember that if your family is just trying to get through the day, You do You! And if that does not in any form include yoga with your kids, ignore this post. I have always found physical and emotional value in yoga; and despite that, I’ve found a hundred excuses not to practice since the world turned upside down.

I have, however, done plenty of kids’ variations of yoga, because Grace thrives on repetition and routine and, much to my delight, she enjoys yoga! She asks for yoga daily, and it’s something I feel great about not only providing opportunities for, but also participating in myself.

Why Yoga?

We hope that by promoting physical activity from a young age, we can find something that Grace enjoys to keep her active throughout her lifetime. As I mentioned here, I’ve also found that getting my kids moving has been a sanity saver during these long days at home. Yoga can be done anywhere without specialized equipment.

Grace’s OT recommended yoga as a form of heavy work to help with hand strengthening and proprioceptive input important for her hypotonic muscles and loose joints. It also improves strength, balance, body awareness and motor planning. Though research into the cognitive and emotional benefits is young, studies suggest improved attention and executive function, as well as reduced anxiety and impulsivity.

Yoga on YouTube

Considering the current state of life, I’ll start with the lowest-effort medium. YouTube, anyone?

Bari Koral

We discovered Bari Koral when one of our PTs recommended Fly Like a Butterfly for pelvic strengthening to help with toilet training. (Bonus!)

She doesn’t have nearly as many videos as Cosmic Kids (below), but Bari’s best videos focus on a few poses set to music and offer repetition that make them easy to learn after a few views. Some move through poses a little quickly, but she’s good at mixing up still poses with energetic activities. Some of our favorites are:

Cosmic Kids

My introduction to kids’ yoga, Cosmic Kids’ production value and use of familiar stories definitely helps to make the videos engaging. There are some options for younger kids, though they’ll probably need some help initially. This is a great channel for older kids or for times when you’re looking to engage in yoga together, so you can offer some assistance.

I recommend starting with We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a familiar story that is repetitive and at a slower pace that some of her other videos.

There are other Yoga videos based on story books, too.

Yoga stories based on movies, including Frozen, Star Wars, Moana are popular in our house and seem to pass more quickly than expected, based on length.

My girls enjoy the format of the fast-paced Super Yoga, but the speed is challenging. After a few views, I model the upcoming poses to make this more doable.

While most of the videos are more than 10 minutes, shorter Brain Breaks run for 4-9 minutes each.

Cosmic Kids also offers Mindfulness activities (recommended for ages 5+) and a few Yoga adventures aimed at toddlers, thought they are still a bit long at 10-15 mins. See more suggestions for toddlers and pre-walkers below.

For younger children and pre-walkers

Yo Re Mi has some other great basic, doable sequences set to songs as well as short, instructional videos with individual poses. Boats, set to Row, Row, Row your boat is a simple place to start. See their thematic playlists here.

A no-frills option, Do Yoga With Me incorporates songs into their  Yoga for Toddlers video.

Super Simple (You may remember their songs from my previous post) shares 5 Simple Yoga Poses for Toddlers in photos.  

Yoga poses for Toddlers has tips in getting younger kids to participate from Chanda, the PT at Pink Oatmeal (her website is worth a closer look). She also offers links to themed yoga sequences listed by pose name or included in her purchasable pre-prepared card packs.

Other Resources

Kids Yoga Stories offers a list, with illustrations, of yoga poses appropriate for kids. They also offer printable posters, which include several poses based on a theme, such as “spring.”

An easy way to engage kids’ interest in yoga is to choose a few poses and present them as a game. Simple options include

  • Mirror, mirror – all players copy a leader’s pose
  • Yogi Says – a play on Simon Says with yoga poses

Table 1 in this paper recommends books, apps, and other resources for teaching yoga to children with DS.

Yoga for Adults

I highly recommend yoga for adults, as well! When life is a little more normal, Yoga with Adriene is my go-to. I find Adriene accessible, even for beginners. She doesn’t use all of the vernacular that’s sometimes intimidating, and she has seemingly endless videos addressing myriad areas of physical and emotional well-being.

Do you have any favorite yoga poses, games, or videos? Tell me what I missed in the comments!

References:

Preschooler Physical Activity, American Academy of Pediatrics
The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity, Children’s Hospital Colorado
More than just a game: Yoga for school-age children, Harvard Health Blog

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