This month we will focus on some poses that allow your children to be involved in yoga with you. I will focus on two different age groups, babies and children. If you have a toddler, decide which practice is more appropriate or mesh the two together to get something that works well for your little terror. A child who has a longer attention span and can stay focused and copy mom or a video on T.V. will probably not be interested in the poses that I am sharing here.
Mommy and Me (baby) Yoga
Plank: Lay baby on their back on the floor or on your yoga mat. Come into plank position hovering over baby. Lower yourself down to the floor (chaturanga or a standard push-up) and give baby a kiss. Push yourself back up. Repeat 5-10 times.
Downward Dog: Push up and back with the hips high and head between the arms coming into downward dog. You may do this from hands or from the forearms. Start to rock your body weight forward until you reach babies belly and give baby a big raspberry. Repeat 5-10 times.
Warrior I: From downward dog, step your right foot forward next to the right hand. Bring your left foot forward about a half a step and point your left toes toward the top left corner of your mat (about a 45 degree angle). Bend your right knee to 90 degrees (or close to it) and keep the right knee over the right ankle, don’t let it go past. Pick up baby, and lift to the sky. Bring baby back down toward the floor but don’t let go. Inhale lift baby to the sky, exhale lower toward floor; repeat 5-10 times. Lay baby back on floor, step back to downward dog and repeat with the left foot forward.
Rock & Roll Knees: After completing both sides, lay baby down, come back to downward dog and take a brief child’s pose. Then gently roll the spine up to seated, sit with your knees bent in front of you and feet flat on the floor. Place baby on your knees and gently roll your spine down to the floor. Holding baby, gently start to make little circles with your knees in one direction and then the other. Try lifting your feet off the floor and repeating the circles in both directions. If baby is ready to relax, take savasana together. Otherwise, finish by giving baby a big kiss!
Mommy and Me (child) Yoga
Keeping yoga fun and playful can keep the little ones more interested in practicing with you. Think of fun names for the poses and mimicking the animals of the poses namesake. You can continue to repeat these poses and make an ongoing story where the characters (The dog, the child, the snake and the tree) keep coming back through the story and the child has to act out that character as you tell the story.
Dog on Hydrant: Start in downward facing dog, lift your right leg, bend the knee and reach the right heel back towards the left sits bone. Tell your little one to pretend he/she is a dog peeing on a fire hydrant. Come back to downward dog, and repeat on the left side. Go back and forth a few times like you are both dogs walking down the street and marking your territory. In between lifting your legs you can peddle the feet back and forth to “walk down the street” this will help to stretch the back muscles of the legs.
Child’s Pose: Next, lower your hips to your heels and rest in child’s pose. Let your child know this is a pose that represents them, in their quietest times. This pose is safe and comfortable. It allows us to go inside and tune into our spirit or soul. Ask them to listen to what their spirit is telling them.
Cobra: Now, shift your weight forward so that you are lying on your abdomen. Bring your forehead to the mat and your hands next to the chest. On an inhalation, lengthen through your spine and lift the head and chest coming into cobra. While in cobra pose, begin to hiss and stick out your tongue like a snake. Lower your head back down, and then lift like a snake and hiss again. Repeat a few times and then return to child’s pose.
Tree: From child’s pose, gently roll the spine up, one vertebra at a time. Then work your way up to standing. The next pose is tree pose. Ground down through one foot and imagine that your toes are roots digging deep into the Earth. Place your second foot on the grounded leg; you can keep the toes on the floor for balance or bring the foot up to the calf or the thigh (avoid placing the foot on the knee). Start with your hands together at the center of the heart, for children who are a little bit older and can balance well, offer them a challenge to reach their arms up high or out to the sides to become the branches of the tree. For an even bigger challenge, have them imagine there is a windstorm and the wind is blowing their tree side to side. Ask them to try to come out of the pose with control, gently setting their foot back to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
Skeleton: When your story is finished, ask your child to lay down and be as still as a skeleton. No talking, no moving, complete stillness. Obviously this will be difficult for a lot of children. It can be helpful if you gently guide them and ask them to let their legs relax, let their arms relax, let their head relax, guide them through as many body parts as you feel and let them rest.