Kids yoga is a thing in our house. I don’t know when it started, I think Aidan saw me doing some physio prescribed stretches (two emergency vertical c-sections and bye bye core muscles) and wanted to join in. The rest is history and it has become a bit of a mom and me thing. We have coordinating yoga mats and do stretches before bedtime.
My Yogi friend (I have these things, I am hella fancy) Marilize from Little Lotus Kids Yoga has alerted me to the fact that the poses I chose could be giving him energy instead of relaxing him!!!! REALLY?! figures!!! So she shared these bedtime kids yoga poses with us because she rocks and perhaps we get to sleep soon.
Maralize says: Research shows that kids yoga improves sleep. So, by introducing movement and mindful breathing to your child’s bedtime ritual through ways that engages them can potentially affect their health, academic performance, and emotional well-being in the long term. What more could a parent ask for?
Here is a couple of animal yoga poses for kids and have especially calming effects. Feel free to add some poses, but try to avoid stimulating poses like backbends and warrior poses at bedtime. (awkwardly walks away)
Some calming poses include forward bends, restorative poses, gentle twists and simple inversions.
Start by creating a calm environment. Clean up the space so that there are fewer distractions. Play soothing music, dim the lights, and speak in a calming voice. This helps children relax their minds and bodies.
Bring attention to your child’s breath as you go through the animal yoga poses, but let the exploration of mindful breathing happen naturally.
Finish your bedtime sequence by lying on your back with your arms and legs stretched out in a Resting Pose. Take a few deep breaths and relax.
You can hold your child’s hand as you lie next to each other, or even let them lie on top of you, rising and falling with your breath. The experience can be truly magical.
Child’s Pose – (Mouse pose)
Child’s pose is a true resting pose, and one that you can hold for long periods of time. It is super calming for the mind, it is great for your digestion, it elongates the lower back and it reminds you that resting is a good thing. I tell children to imagine that they are a tiny little mouse and to try and become tiny like the little mouse. Stay in the child’s pose for 5 deep breaths. For an arm and shoulder stretch variation, suggest your child bring her arms out in front of her for an “Extended Child’s Pose”.
Start by sitting on your heels. Separate your knees a little bit. Bend forward to rest your forehead gently on the floor. Let your arms relax down to the floor along the sides of your body, palms facing up. Close your eyes and allow your shoulders, neck and back muscles to relax. Rest here for several breaths, breathing in and out slowly and deeply.
Downward-Facing Dog – (Puppy pose)
Deservedly on of Yoga’s most widely recognized poses, offer the ultimate all-over, rejuvenating stretch. It encourages flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Imagine you are a puppy stretching after a long nap. Stay in the pose for 5 deep breaths.
Start on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers wide. Now, tuck your toes under and push your bottom high up into the air. Check your arms, are they nice and straight and strong? Relax your neck and head. Now check your feet. Stretch your heels back as close to the floor as you can. Stay in this pose for 5 deep breaths. Lower back onto hands and knees.
Happy Baby Pose – (Happy piggy rolling in the mud)
Physically, this posture is a major hip opener. It stretches the inner thighs and groin as well as the back of the legs, or the hamstrings. It releases the spine and the sacrum, and is particularly beneficial in releasing, or decompressing, the SI (Sacroiliac) joint. Imagine you are a piggy playing in the mud. Roll from side to side. Kids love this pose and just stay on your back rolling for about 20 seconds.
Lie down on your back. Wrap your first two fingers around your big toes or the outsides of your feet. Pull your feet back so that your knees come in toward your armpits. Roll from side to side.
Tortoise Pose: (Self-explained animal haha)
Tortoise is largely a relaxation pose. It is said to enhance longevity by slowing the breathing. It increases blood flow to the brain, releases tension from shoulders and neck and increases flexibility of shoulder muscles. Imagine you are a little Tortoise hiding in your shell. Stay in your shell for 5 deep breaths.
Begin in V-Sit pose with your legs spread wide. Fold forward and place the palms of your hands on the floor and slide them under each leg. Hide in your shell by bowing forward, head down. Peek out of your shell by bringing your head up and out. Stay in this position, but bring the bottoms of your feet together to produce a new kind of turtle shell.