Inspire and uplift
An inspiring and uplifting yoga sequence for children. By Sarah Swindlehurst / Mulliner
Children today may be under a lot of stress: homeschooling, lack of socialising with their friends, endless Zoom activities, over-scheduling…it all adds up. And, just like their parents, children need to start turning to self-care modalities like yoga to help them stay positive but also relax. It is less demanding on the physical body than many other sports and is very calming for the mind and emotions.
Furthermore, other than some yoga teachings, they do not need anything but themselves to practice it. Other members of their family can also join in too, so it can become a lovely, uplifting, yet calming family bonding time.
To start the children off, here is an easy sequence of yoga postures to practice, perhaps just a little each day or every other day to start with.
Each posture is to be practiced and held for 2-3 breaths (inhale/exhale). The affirmation is to be focused on and thought about as they practice it. With repeated practice, the children will find they feel a little more focused and uplifted after it each time. N.B: Adults, do help guide your child into the postures where necessary, however be mindful to allow your child to explore moving their bodies themselves, so that they develop an awareness of their body’s limits.
Tree Posture (Vrksasana)
From standing, place your weight on to the left foot and bring the right foot up so that the sole of the foot is resting on the inner left leg as far up the leg as you feel comfortable with. Inhale and bring your hands into prayer in front of you. Exhale ground the standing leg and strengthen up your whole body. Inhale and lift the chest to pull up the spine. Hold for 2-3 breaths and then exhale release the foot down. Repeat on the other side.
Affirmation: I am calm and focused.
Warrior 2 (Virabradrasana B)
Stand with the feet wide apart and the hands on the hips. Turn one foot out to the side so that the feet are 90 degrees to each other. Bend the knee over the ankle of the foot that is turned out. Inhale and lift the arms up parallel to the floor. Relax the shoulders and gaze over the back of the hand. Hold for 2-3 breaths, then inhale back up and repeat on the other side.
Affirmation: I have unlimiting potential
Gate Pose (Parighasana)
Start kneeling with the bottom up off the heels. Stretch one leg out to the side and firm the foot into the ground. Inhaling raise the opposite arm up and exhale slide the other arm/hand down the stretched-out leg. Feel the stretch in the side of the body. Hold for 2-3 breaths.
Affirmation: I am open to new and exciting possibilities.
Seated Spinal Twist (Matsyendrasana)
Start sitting with the legs out in front. Bend the right knee up and place the sole of the foot close to the knee. Hold the right shin with both hands. Inhale and stretch the right arm up and then exhale as you place the hand on the floor behind you at about a hand distance away. Inhale and raise the left arm up and then exhale place the left elbow on the outside of the right knee. Inhaling, lengthen up through the spine (use the back arm/hand to lift you up rather than to lean onto it) and exhale twist round to look over your right shoulder. Hold here for up to 2-3 breaths and then exhale as you release the pose. Repeat on the other side.
Affirmation: I work through any obstacles.
Starting in a kneeling position with the hands held in fists in front of you. Inhale through the nose (if you can!) and then exhale out through the mouth making a roar sound (like a lion), whilst sticking your tongue out and opening your fingers into a craw shape. Also, as you exhale, look at the tip of your nose (crossing the eyes). Do this as many times as you like.
Affirmation: I let go of fear/sadness/anger/ upset (choose one or an alternate feeling).
Start sitting with the spine straight and have an object such as an LED candle or changing light in front of you. Focus on your breathing throughout. Focus on the light changing with your eyes relaxed and do this for as long as you can. When you are ready, close your eyes and aim to keep the image in your mind. Keep the image for as long as you can and then when it fades, open your eyes, and repeat. Sit for up to 5 minutes.
Affirmation: I am peaceful.
Through yoga, children will gain strength and flexibility, both physically and mentally. With a regular yoga practice, children will likely increase in flexibility, upper body strength and core strength (which children tend to lack) and have better cognitive thinking and focus. Through the focused breathing, they will also learn to manage themselves when they are anxious, stressed, tired, or upset in a healthy way. Aim for little and often so the yoga practice does not feel forced or regimental.
Sarah Swindlehurst / Mulliner is a senior teacher trainer at Yogakidz Worldwide, a not-for-profit company that has been running online teacher training courses for all ages since 2007. Visit: yogakidzonlinetraining.com