Thursday, January 14, 2010

Toddler Yoga

I have been doing 5 minutes of yoga with my story time kids for the past 2 years. There are always one or two kids who are too shy to try it out but for the most part everyone participates. I have 5 activities and always end with Lion's Breath or deep breathing. I tell the kids that these stretches will help them grow big and tall if they do them everyday. It is nice to end storytime on a quiet note as we are often loud and moving around for 40 minutes. Below you can find a list of my yoga activities. Before we start our Story Time stretches I put up a little feltboard picture of each of the 5 stretches we will be doing in order. This lets kids remember week to week what stretch we are doing and shows them sequences of events.

Yoga Journal Article on the benefits of yoga with children. “Yoga enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. In addition, their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves. Doing yoga, children exerci
Link se, play, connect more deeply with the inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them.”

The links below are to give you a general idea of the pose but I modify them to suit children who cannot often sit or stand in complicated yoga poses. As time goes on I will mix up the poses by doing a variation of the pose so the audience does not get bored. I do 5 different stretches and we do each one between 3-6 times.

Yoga Poses:
Butterfly: Sit with the bottoms of your feet touching. Flap your butterfly wings by moving legs up and down while still keeping feet together. I then tell the kids to "smell their feet!" as they still keep their feet together and try to touch their nose to their feet.

Dog: More advanced pose

Chair: Raise your arms straight up over your head reaching for the sky then squat pretending you have a comfy chair behind you that your sitting in.

Eagle: Slowly move your wings (arms) from your sides to a T, and then up over your head. At the top slowly bring them down to your sides again.

Airplane: Arms out to a T. Bend over at your belly with a flat back. Slowly lift one foot up and try to balance. Switch sides. It's okay if your plane hits some turbulence but try not to crash into the plane next to you.

Lion Breath: Breath like a lion, but don't roar like one. Sit cross legged. Deep breath in through the nose, and loud out through the mouth. Even really young children like doing this one.

Frog: Start out standing then squat like a frog and spring up to a jump.

Thunder & Lightening: Breath in and bring arms from your sides out and touch them together over your head. Keep arms up and take on leg and do a lunge making sure to slam your foot down yelling BOOM! (that's the thunder). Hold this pose for a few breaths.

Paint the Sky: Can be done sitting or standing. Pretend you have a paint brush in your hand. Start with your arm down by your side and bring it up and over to the other side of your body and pretend you are painting a rainbow in the sky. This stretches out your sides so do both sides.

Starfish: Arms out to a T, legs spread out to the side so you look like a star or an X. Try to balance and lift one foot at a time but keeping your leg straight so no bending your knees.

Falling Star: Get in the starfish pose. Take left hand and bend over at your belly to touch your right foot. Now do the opposite side. I often start out showing my yoga poses facing the kids, but after they try it I have my back to them so the way I do it looks like the way they do.

Ragdoll: Bend over at your belly, arms just hand, legs straight. Grab right elbow with left hand and left elbow with right hands and just hang for a moment then start slowly swaying back and forth.

Snake: Lay face down on your belly. We are slithering along and then we hear a noise so we put our hands on the ground next to us and we pop our head and chest up to find out what it is.

Warrior: See picture. But I also make them flex their muscles too!

Cat: Start on hands and knees. Suck in belly and arch your back like a cat

Cow: Start on hands and knees. Stick butt in the air and your head at the same time to mimic a cow mooing.

Shoulder Shrugs: Pretty self explanitory

Tree: Arms up over head reaching for the sky. Slowly lift one leg and hold pose for 30 seconds. Do other leg. This is a great balance pose for kids. Trees waive in the wind so it is okay to sway a little bit.

Beach Ball: Sit with your knees pulled into your chest. Wrap your arms around them and roll backwards and forwards keeping yourself as tight and round as a beachball.

Monkey: Bend down and tough your toes. Then hands to the front of your shins and keep your back flat.

Kissy Knees: Sitting with legs straight out in front of you try to kiss your knees. Be sure to make kissy noise!

Pretzel: The picture does a better job of explaining it!

Sunrise/Sunset: Same as eagle except I say the sun rises in the morning and sets at night. The motion of our arms going up and down mimics the sunrise and sunset.

Rain Storm: Sunrise pose, then bring stright arms out in front of you wiggling your fingers to simulate rain falling to touch your toes. Then do Monkey pose with a flat back and pretend to smell the flowers that just bloomed from the rain. Slowly stand up. Squat and scoop arms down to pick the flowers and spring up with a jump and throw them in the air.

Little Yoga: a Toddler's First Book of Yoga by Rebecca Whitford
You Are a Lion: and Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo