When it comes to asana, children are naturals. And we all love to see the poses our infants and toddlers seem to naturally gravitate toward. Happy Baby, anyone? I’m continually inspired by how relaxed and organic my son’s “poses” are—a Malasana (Garland Pose) in the garden; an effortless Virasana or Vajrasana (Thunderbolt) while playing with toys in his bedroom.
Once children hit preschool age and beyond, many are ready to move from these instinctive yoga moments into a slightly more organized yoga sequence. Think of it as “playing yoga” rather than “practice.” Here are some favorite poses to get your child started with asana. Try teaching your littlest yogi these one at a time, or follow this sequence in order for a child-friendly yoga play session.
1. Tree Pose
The balancing challenge is just hard enough with this standing pose to delight (but not frustrate) the youngest of yogis. Reach up to the stars, place hands in Namastem, or hold on to a wall or table to balance. Don’t forget to do both sides. (Your child will soon be the one reminding you.)
2. Downward-Facing Dog
Many yoga moms and dads have been having their children take Down Dog after a poop since they were toddlers. Now it’s time to bring this pose to the mat. Hips high, arms and legs straight, neck relaxed. Suggest your children watch the family dog do a post-nap stretch for inspiration.
3. Tripod Headstand
What’s challenging for adults can be surprisingly simple for children. Spread your yoga mat and have your child put her head and hands down. Help her come up into the pose with your arms, and use your body as a support while she remains there for a few moments. Don’t forget to remind her to breathe! (And to keep her neck steady, and not look to one side or the other.) Help her down and have her rest quietly for a moment.
4. Cobbler’s Pose
Have your child sit in Baddha Konasana—it’s probably easier for her than for you!—and explain that a cobbler would put her shoe right in between her feet while working on a repair.
5. Child’s Pose with Bolster, aka “Snuggle-asana”
Put out a bolster or some blankets and, before you know it, your little one will find a comfortable way to snuggle down in a supported Child’s Pose, or what my son calls “Snuggle-asana.”
What are your child’s favorite poses?