Once upon a time, I was a Preschool Yoga Instructor with YogaTales for Kids. While it felt at times like I was herding cats, I was amazed at how much even my youngest students (age two) learned! Yoga and meditation gave them the lifelong skills of being more mindful, present and managing their very big feelings.
Fast forward to present day, and I have a two-year-old of my own. After many tantrums (he gets so frustrated not being able to put a broken toy back together, or his own shoes on), I realized what a valuable tool the breathing exercises I taught those preschoolers could be in these situations.
One day, we went to our local library and found Being Patient with Cookie Monster: Sesame Street Monster Meditation in collaboration with Headspace. I practiced some deep breathing exercises from the book, and before I knew it, my toddler was mimicking me (as usual). Now, when I take a deep breath in through my nose, and slowly out through my mouth, he does it, too! Though not a completely fail-proof technique, taking a few deep breaths has saved us from many tears (on my end and his!)
Tools to practice yoga, meditation, & mindfulness with kids include:
Here are some great reading resources for parents and kids to discover the world of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation:
- Sesame Street Monster Meditation in Collaboration with Headspace
- Yoga Animals: A Wild Introduction to Kid-Friendly Poses
Tip: Take just about any children’s book, and turn the pictures into fun yoga poses! Need some ideas? Here’s a free poster of yoga poses for kids from Great Wolf Lodge!
The Headspace app is another great resource for parents and kids alike, with meditations by age group, expert guidance on mindful parenting, and even bedtime stories. Other meditation apps with great resources for kids include:
- Ten Percent Happier (Read a Collin County Moms review of this app here!)
- Sleep Meditations for Kids
If screen time is a necessary evil in your home (as it is in mine), here are some educational video resources for beginners yoga, meditation, and mindfulness:
Nothing gets my toddler moving like a good song! Here are some great picks to get your little one stretching, breathing, and re-centering:
Do you have to keep your kids busy so they don’t destroy your entire house, or is that just me? Yoga classes are a great option for keeping your children entertained, while learning some lifelong skills!
Activities & Games
- Sit comfortably with your kiddo, closing your eyes. Count your breaths out loud, one for the inhale, two for the exhale, etc. If a distraction comes up for either one of you, shout out “thought!” or “feeling!” This silly noting exercise can stick with your child through adulthood, helping them to compartmentalize, and become more present.
- Lay comfortably with your child as you wind down for nap time or bedtime. Close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Say, “Goodnight, head! Goodnight, shoulders! Goodnight, arms!” etc. until you reach your toes. This body scan technique helps us more consciously relax our muscles and prepare for sleep.
- This childhood favorite is a great way to teach and learn new “animal” poses, such as cat, cow, and cobra. Instead of a child being “out” when you don’t say “Simon says,” you can use that time for them to take shavasana.
- For a family-friendly mindfulness activity, try prepping a meal together! What do you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel?
Here are some other fun games for the whole family:
- School of Mindful- Intro to Yoga and Meditation Deck for Children
Yoga is a great way to channel extra energy, whether it’s the worry that keeps us moms awake at night, or the hyperactivity our child has when it’s too close to bedtime. Meditation can help us calm our nerves, manage our stress, and fall asleep more quickly. Mindfulness allows us to experience more whole and present lives. The many other health benefits of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness include:
- Improved strength, flexibility, and balance
- Improved focus
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Better sleep
- Improved mental and emotional health
It’s no wonder reliable sources like the American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Health, and Mayo Clinic endorse yoga, meditation and mindfulness.