Toddlers sitting peacefully in lotus pose? It’s every parent’s dream, but far from the reality of yoga classes catering to young children. In fact, parent/child yoga does not require an extensive attention span or intense focus, making it way more fun for kids.
“Your typical toddler yoga class is not like those yoga classes attended by adults. It is loud. The children are moving around a lot, and if we get four or five poses in during the class, I am thrilled!” said Stephanie Roldan. Miss Stephanie is a yoga and fitness instructor and founder and owner of Blissful Owl Family Fitness, which currently offers yoga classes and camps for kids and families at Fit Club.
Despite the obvious differences between toddler and adult classes, yoga offers plenty of physical and mental benefits for young children, including many of the same one’s adults reap from a practice. Wondering if you should try yoga with your little one? Here’s seven reasons why it’s a great idea:
1. Yoga for young kids is more than “just” yoga.
In addition to introducing children to yoga poses and concepts, yoga for toddlers includes silly songs, creative movement, toys and props, and story time. Classes last 45 minutes and provide lots of action for little kids who are on the go.
2. Yoga is a safe way for young children to move their bodies.
Toddler yoga gives tots an opportunity to learn to love moving their bodies as well as fine-tune age-appropriate gross motor skills, like running, hopping, marching, balance and spatial awareness. In Miss Stephanie’s yoga classes, everything is paced by the children. “Toddlers, unlike adults, will not push themselves to a point of injury; and therefore, if something is uncomfortable they will just stop or come out of that pose. They will go at their own pace. Toddlers have a great ability to police their own actions to fit their own comfort level.”
3. Yoga can help increase a child’s attention span.
It’s one of the tougher aspects of parenting a toddler—a young child’s attention span often feels non-existent. While this is developmentally appropriate, yoga can help toddlers increase their attention spans by engaging them in a series of child-centric activities that require focus.
4. Yoga incorporates important social skills.
In toddler yoga, young children begin to learn social skills that will help them better transition into preschool and other structured learning environments. Toddlers can practice listening to and following directions, engaging in imaginative play and taking turns playing with props.
5. Yoga may help toddlers manage stress and anxiety.
Yoga teaches toddlers how to breathe and express themselves—important skills for managing stress, anxiety, aggression and other feelings.
“A wonderful example I observed personally in my 2-year-old son is that he is a fantastic deep breath taker. We practice the deep breaths by smelling the flowers and then making a big sighing sound or blow out our breath. While he is trying to fall asleep, I observe him taking these very exaggerated deep breaths as he self-soothes himself to sleep,” said Miss Stephanie. "It's pretty amazing!"
6. Yoga can increase a toddler’s confidence.
Toddler yoga is a great way to let little kids be silly, energetic, and imaginative. While your child is engaged in a fun activity like yoga, they are also gaining confidence about moving their body and expressing themselves creatively.
“I have observed children come into their personalities when we sing a certain song or make appropriate sounds along with our poses,” said Miss Stephanie.
7. Yoga is a great way to bond with your toddler.
Parents are an active part of toddler yoga classes—they dance, sing and practice yoga poses alongside their child. Partner yoga moves are also a big hit in toddler classes. Miss Stephanie’s favorite partner pose is the flying bow pose, which involves the parent lying on the ground with the toddler “flying” on the parent’s knees and shins.
"Yoga naps"—the toddler version of a savasana—also provide another great opportunity for parents and children to bond during yoga.
“I play a quiet song for children to have a start and end point and something to focus on, and for the most part, the parent and child lay together on the mat. I am always pleasantly surprised at how many kiddos can sit still and lay down with their parents for the entire song. Many lie on their parent’s tummy while the parents are on their back. I love to see the parents actively bonding with their children during this time.”
Join Miss Stephanie for her next Family Yoga Workshop, offered monthly at Fit Club.
Disclaimer: Fit Club is not a medical doctor and the information contained herein should not be taken as medical advice. These are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problem. Recommendations by Fit Club are not intended to replace the advice of a physician or health professional. Please consult your physician or a health professional before beginning any diet or exercise program.