Yoga for Toddlers

Submitted by Jenifer on June 28, 2012

In ancient times yoga was practiced only by children eight years and older. In today's fast paced world however, there are yoga classes for children as young as 18 months old. Unlike adult yoga however, toddler yoga is more play-centric with children crawling and walking around class and having fun imitating animals and nature and at the same time reaping the benefits of yoga.


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Yoga Poses for Toddlers

While toddlers can have a blast pretending to be a snake in the Cobra Pose or standing strong like an oak during Tree Pose, there are several yoga poses that are not recommended for younger children. This is because several of these poses when done habitually can put too much pressure on the glands and endocrine system and stifle a child's normal physical growth. Though insufficient research has been conducted on the negative impact of yoga on young children, it is better to err on the side of caution and only let your children practice in classes specially designed for toddlers and under the guidance of a trained yoga instructor.

Some easy and beneficial yoga poses for toddlers include:

  • The Butterfly Pose
  • The Lion Pose
  • The Cobra Pose
  • The Cat and Cow Pose
  • The Volcano Pose
  • The Sunrise and Sunset Pose

Toddler Yoga Benefits

Some of the benefits of toddler yoga are:

  • Yoga increases a child's awareness of his own body
  • It improves mental strength attention and concentration
  • Promotes creativity and imagination
  • Studies show that yoga improves emotional control
  • Improve gross and fine motor skills
  • Develops healthy breathing techniques
  • Helps children relax and reduce stress and anger
  • Improves a child's posture
  • Promotes physical strength, balance and flexibility
  • Can improve cardiovascular health
  • Yoga improves immunity and helps fight infections and illnesses
  • Toddlers and children who practice yoga report better and deeper sleep at night
  • Practicing yoga uses up excess energy and this helps toddlers calm down and unwind more easily
  • Yoga builds self-discipline, confidence, and self-esteem

Things to Remember When Practicing Toddler Yoga

While several associations such as the American Yoga Association and the American Diabetes Association support yoga for toddlers for its physical and mental benefits, there are still certain precautions that should be taken before enrolling your little one in a yoga class. These include:

  • When choosing a class or yoga book or video, opt for one that is specially aimed at toddlers. Young children should not attend a yoga class meant for adults and should completely avoid certain types of yoga such as Bikram yoga and Ashtanga yoga.
  • Children below the age of six should only practice yoga for fifteen to twenty minutes a day and for not more than five times a week.
  • Never push your child to perform a certain pose or make him try something that is beyond his physical capabilities. This will only lead to stress and injury.
  • If your child is sick or feeling poorly, skip the yoga class until he is better.
  • Children should not practice yoga on a full stomach.
  • Use plenty of positive reinforcement and keep the activity fun at all times.
  • Include some amount of breathing exercises and meditation to every yoga session.
  • Don't forget that children need to warm-up and cool down before and after a yoga class.

Practicing Toddler Yoga at Home

If you are planning to teach your toddler yoga at home, the biggest challenge is to hold his or her attention long enough in order to practice the pose correctly and reap the most benefits. You can make the most of your child's imagination and ask him to assume the role of the pose he is holding. Most kids jump at the chance at growling like lions, hissing like snakes, or balancing like a flamingo. Step back and enjoy the show and you just might learn some new things as well!

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