Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Yoga is for Everyone

By: Kerry McKenzie


As a yoga instructor, I have had the pleasure to teach a broad range of ages. One of my favorite classes is a family yoga class where the students’ ages range from 3 to 50+. Ever wonder how children learn yoga, especially when they are so young? Imagination and a free spirit help the young learn in many ways! You can conduct your own yoga session at home by following what I did in class. You don’t even need a mat. Just use a towel or blanket so everyone involved has their own space.

At the beginning of the class, as everyone sets up their yoga mats and mingles, I play, "I Like to Move" on the ChoosyNation music CD. I encourage dancing and moving to music to get the “jitter bugs” out.

As a warm-up, I lead the class through several animal poses like giraffe, kangaroo, eagle, downward dog, upward dog, cat, cow, cobra, shark, swan, and dolphin. You can even make up your own! During each pose, I ask the participants what else they think the pose looks like. For instance, cat could also be a tiger and cow could be a howling wolf.  Within each pose, we also try to make the animal noises. Practice this especially with those who are still learning their animals and sounds!

I then walk the group through a flow of poses, moving in and out of postures using the dragon’s breath (sticking your tongue out and pretending fire is coming out your mouth on exhales). The dragon then spreads its wings, lifts its tail (one leg lifted in down dog), then surrenders as the belly is now facing up toward the sky. Finally, the dragon comes alive and flies back home with its wings wide and standing tall. The children in class love to imagine this and really get into it. I played “Puff the Magic Dragon” with this yoga flow. You could also incorporate a lion pose while playing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Another fun thing to do is play a freeze game using “Choosy Freeze" by Choosy Kids and your yoga mat, towel or blanket. Start the music and move about the room. When the music prompts everyone to freeze, jump onto a mat/towel/blanket and do your favorite yoga pose or make one up. I have learned some cool poses from young yogis.

You can also do partner yoga. For instance, the adult can do a child’s pose on the floor and then a child can climb on top of the adult and do child’s pose on top. You can see this in the picture. Children can do boat pose with their feet pressing together and holding hands and parents can try to crawl under. Then switch the roles. I renamed the pose bridge and we sang “London Bridges”. This is also in the picture! During the other partner poses the music I chose was “Lean On Me” and “Stand By Me.”

Yoga is a great way to relax, increase your strengthen and flexibility or a great partner activity! Have you tried yoga with your children? How old are they? What do you and they like best about it?


About the Author: Kerry McKenzie, B.A., M.S., has been working in education for more than 13 years. She is a Certified Health Coach, a 500 level (E-RYT500) yoga teacher and specializes in early childhood motor development. She has a passion for working with expecting moms, babies, toddlers and preschool age children and their caregivers at Greenville Health Systems pediatric clinic, child care centers and in the community. Click here to learn more about Kerry.

20 comments :

  1. Hehe yoga IS for everyone! Love and loved the post! Thanks for sharing ❤

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    1. You are super welcome!! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I love the idea of a family yoga class. My husband and I would take that with the kids in an instant.

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    1. I wish somewhere around me would offer this! I agree that my husband would like it too!!! Thanks for stopping by :)

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  3. I had never done yoga before and this year I went to a free class at 25 weeks pregnant. I was nervous about it, but it was great and I think all the downward dog actually turned my breach baby around! ;D

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    1. That is awesome that you believe yoga did that for you! There are so many wonderful benefits to doing yoga :) thanks for sharing your story

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  4. We love the kids yoga on amazon prime and I have an old dvd (looks like 80s to me) that taught him "bunny breaths" that we still use to calm down even though he hasn't done the dvd in quite some time!

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    1. Your calming technique is great! Yoga is one of those "tools" that parents can easily teach to their children. Thanks for stopping by :)

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  5. Thanks for the inspiration - my kids love pretending to be animals, so this would be a fun way to get them exercise and stretch as well.

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    1. Anything to get them moving :) thanks for stopping by!

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  6. We have done some yoga at home. We have four three (almost four) year-old children. Your family class sounds really fun! That fourth picture on the right above is really impressive. I wondered if they were able to instantly reach this pose, or if it would took a few tries. It would take us more than a few tries!

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  7. Those kids are master yogis ;) I am sure it did take a couple of tries but that is the best part of learning. Keep up the great yoga training at home!!

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  8. They taught yoga at my son's preschool and he loved it! He would always show me the 'poses' that he learned!

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    1. That is awesome!!! What a great preschool and good for him that he came home and taught you :) thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Great tips, my toddler would love it. Anything to keep her active and me sane.

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  10. :) parents need to be kept sane. Ateasy yoga could be a good stress reliever and exercise for you both! Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. Lovely tips. My daughter loves animals and it would be so much interesting for her to introduce yoga to her with all the imagination that you mentioned here. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yoga can be so much fun and a great exercise for the imagination!! Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. So cool! I,exercise with my,boys and they've dine yoga with me and,it's the best! Now they say, "mama I'm doin that yoga!" as they strike random poses throughout the day haha

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    1. Try playing a version of freeze tag with them and when they freeze they have to strike a yoga pose :) I think they would enjoy this! If you get them to play, snaps some pics to share with us and email them to me at christinecox0925@gmail.com. Thanks for stopping by!

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