Stretch and bend, cross over and reach! With spring on the way it’s time to get limbered up for outdoor activities. Children can have fun while forming their bodies into the shapes of animals, letters, and geometric shapes with kid-friendly yoga.
Along with getting the blood flowing, yoga also helps clear the mind and is a way to work out feelings. If your child is happy, sad, mad, or sleepy, ask him how he can show that in the way he holds his body. Working out feelings through movement is a great life skill to carry into adulthood!
Here are some movement books that show children yoga positions you can do at home. Most books also tell a little about how yoga can help children with concentration and patience.
“The Happiest Tree, a Yoga Story” by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Ruth Jeyaveeran. Meena was worried about how she would perform in the school play. She felt like she was clumsy and would trip and stumble on stage. But, when Meena started taking a yoga class especially for children, she learned how to quite her mind and feel in control of her body. What she really learned was how to have peace of mind no matter what happened.
“Alef-Bet Yoga for Kids” by Ruth Goldeen, photos by Bill Goldeen. Photos of children superimposed onto Hebrew letters show how each letter can be made by bending this way or that. Learn the Hebrew alphabet in a very experiential way, while stretching, bending, and lengthening the body.
“Babar’s Yoga for Elephants,” based on the characters by Laurent de Brunhoff. This is a silly book for mid-elementary aged children. According to this story, elephants invented yoga! Here are 15 positions that you can do as a family or that children can do on their own. After giving instruction on the poses, the book shows all the places that an elephant (or human) could practice yoga during a regular day such as a department store, the subway, a park, or in Times Square, and at any number of world tourist destinations.
“My Daddy is a Pretzel: Yoga for Parents and Kids” by Baron Baptiste, illustrated by Sophie Fatus. Written by a world-famous yoga instructor, this is an introduction to yoga positions that will resonate with children. The name of each position in English is related to a real-life object so children can pretend and imagine as they contort their bodies into different shapes. Diagrammed step-by-step instructions show how to form “Tree,” “Dog,” “Triangle,” and 6 other poses.
“Can You Move Like an Elephant?” by Judy Hindley, illustrated by Manya Stojic. Although this isn’t specifically a yoga book, it is a wonderful introduction to yoga-like positions for young children. The book suggests movements that are similar to different animals, like slithering like a snake or scratching like a monkey. Slide slow like a snail, spring in one bound like a tiger. Do the motions with your child and both of you will benefit.