In my daily work as a kids yogateacher and a socialworker in a daycare, I often get asked, how young children age 1-6 can do yoga. Often yoga gets connected to the different yoga poses, this is only a small part of it.
To me it is about my values, in my daily yogi life, it about being present, and slow living in our busy life. You can do this by having present transistions from one activity to another. from play to meal to sleepingtime, are often hectic time.
You can make this time less hectic, by meeting it with patience and calm, by using breathing exercises with affirmations. The reason for this is that if, you ask children to take a breath, they will often hold their breath, therefore visualization and affirmations is a tool to help them.
- Flower and candle: Imagine that you, have 3 flowers in one hand, 3 candles in the other hand. Smell the flowers – blow the candles – repeat 3 times. You can also use fabric flowers and candles to support the affirmations more.
- Ballons: Imagine that we are blowing up ballons, what color are the ballon ? maybe it is a airballon and you can fly trough the livingroom all the way to bed.
- Stone/Teddy bear on the tummy: Use a small teddybear or a stone that you can paint in favorite colors or animal print. When the child breath all the way down to the tummy, the item dissapears, when it breath out, it appears. Pure magic.
when breathing exercies with affirmations become a part of our life, we can use them as a part of a mindful living, to find calm and new energy. Another tool is massage, it will also increase body awareness and sensory integration. It can be a good idea to play relaxing music during the massage.
- Pizzamassage: You take turn to be pizza dough, and pizza baker. The one that is having the massage is pizza dough, lying on a yoga mat or a blanket . Start by kneading the dough ( neck,back,legs,feet), roll the dough out and put on tomato sauce ( gentle strokes), put on topping after the child wishes ( gentle pressures). Then it is time to heat the pizza in the oven, by using fire hands (rub the hands together, feel the heat in the palms) place the fire hands on the neck,back,legs and feet.
- Spaghetti: Use a blanket as a pot, the kids are lying on the blanket, and we are now going to boil them as spagethetti, by gentle shaking the legs and arms. The child is tightening up the muscles, and when the gentle shaking begins – release. When the body is relaxed you can when gentle strokes put tomato sauce an parmasan on.
- malassage: sometimes the hands on,can be to much, if the child is sensitive or you want to do a more gentle massage. Get pensles – small ones for the face and bigger ones for legs and arms. Now you can paint eachother with gentle strokes to beautiful art work in all the colors of the rainbow, maybe their is a special place that need a special color.
When we are doing yogaposes with kids, we use affirmations to tell a story with our body. Here you can also use cards from enchanted wonders
Imagine that we are flying to Africas savannah, we are going to be crocodiles, roar like lions and be elephants.
- Sun salaution rhyme: The sun is heating me (stand up, and giv your self a hug ), The sun is heating the sky (strech your arms up), the sun is heating the ground (forward bend) hvor humans and animals live (plank pose) , the lizard is a fun guy (stick out your tounge in plank pose ) the snake hisses (cobra pose ). The dog is streching is body ( downward dog ) we say thanks to the earth ( jump or walk to forward bend) we say thanks the sun ( stretch the body with arms to the sun) Namaste (hands in front of the heart).
- Fly: here is different options, you can stand on both legs with arms to the side, or challenge the balance by lifting one leg at the time. You can support the balance by holding eachothers hands or by counting to 4.
- Lions: Here we meet the lion family, the lions roar and stretch out the tounge. we start with a small roar the baby lion. Then we make a big roar ( if the child is sensitive to loud sounds, you can tell them to hold their ears, while the roar)
- Elephants: The elephants are making a shower with their trunk in the lake. Stand op, and take together the index fingers, make a forward bend and an inhale when you get water in the elephants trunk and breath out when you take the trunk op and back. Finish of with a water fight.
- Crocodiles: In the lake their is crocodiles, they are looking the elephants trunk go up and down (lay on the tummy, and hold the head with your hands, look up and down) next time the trunks are in the water we are going to snap them. Lie on the side, open up the arms and snap, repeat 3 times on each side.
After our little yoga journey it is time for the magic yogasleep, you can use one of the breathing or massage exercises a cool down activity.
Start by packing the child in a blanket, they can have their teddybear or rock on the tummy, as a focus point. Use affirmations with magic dust in colors of the rainbow that are making the body relaxed. Using a bodyscan, the magic dust are making the feet, legs, tummy, arms, face and top of the head relaxed, maybe you can feel and see the glitter in all the colors of the rainbow around you. You can also tell the story we just told with our body, with all the animals we meet.
After yogasleep, we come up to sitting with hands infront of the heart. Using this rhyme in the family:
Deep in my heart their is a light, Deep in my heart their is a light and together, we are one NAMASTE
In the daycare and family:
I am a cool yogi
I am big and strong
I am sweet, good and smart
I am a yoga star