Yoga & young kids: how, why, what…why?

My Downward Dog pose may be more Wobbly Whippet than Graceful Greyhound, but yoga has been my faithful friend for over 7 years now. I find that even a few minutes here and there aids my ongoing search for serenity (it’s probably lurking under the sofa with all the half-eaten food, and dolls’ house furniture). I practiced yoga throughout both pregnancies and love doing postnatal stretches with babies on the mat (they love it too).

But yoga with young kids? As many of you will know, a quiet and still toddler is a rare, and often undesirable, thing. It generally means that your lip gloss is being used to graffiti the walls or that the baby is being weaned early, using playdough.

As we packed our bags ready for our holiday in France, I received a well-timed email from Tatty Bumpkin containing ’10 x 10 minute yoga play ideas for holiday sanity’. Hmmm. As mother of a spirited (interpret that as you will…) little being, I thought that trying some yoga together could be beneficial for both of us: down time, fun, movement and a chance to focus on just being in our bodies. Plus, I had high hopes for ‘resting pose’.

Yoga is great for kids because:

It improves balance and spatial awareness

It requires focus and promotes calm

It teaches awareness of mind and body

It helps develop strength and coordination

Tatty Bumpkin run yoga-inspired classes designed to encourage movement and enhance development in babies and children aged 6 weeks – 7 years. They’re experts at creating stories around yoga poses, and making them fun and accessible for growing minds and bodies. So, I printed out the play ideas sheet below, and shoved it in the bag.

Several croissant-filled days later, I needed a toddler-friendly activity to fill a lazy morning. I reflected on my holiday ‘to do’ list. It contained two things:

  1. Drink rosé in hammock
  2. Do yoga in the garden

It was a little early for rosé, so I set up an outdoor yoga area and we hit the mat. The toddler was enthusiastic, and excited about joining in. Since the arrival of her baby brother she’s found it difficult sharing me, and there was something lovely about making this special place for us to play together.

As with most of our activities it was more about the journey than the end result. We wobbled and giggled our way through a few of the poses on the sheet below, and talked about the various animals and the way they move.

Things went a little off script during ‘frog jumping’ as the toddler was quite preoccupied with turning me into a frog using her magic spatula (we couldn’t get the wand through customs). We halted proceedings whilst ‘stirring the pot’ as the toddler decided some real yoghurt might help the exercise along (it didn’t). And our little ‘lion’ roared a little more ferociously than I’d anticipated, and was quite keen to eat my leg.

It was fun though – silly, cuddly, giggly fresh-air-fun. I hope that by introducing yoga this way she’ll grow to love it as much as I do, although I’m not sure how popular she’ll be in yoga studios if she keeps knawing other people’s legs.

yogawithkids

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