5 Simple Yoga Poses to Do with Kids

04/02/2020 Yoga Yoga Mindfulness for Kids Kid Friendly

Home with the kids? Looking for a fun and invigorating—yet consciously calming—activity to do with them? Yoga is the ticket!

Yoga is a holistic approach to health and well-being and includes physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation practices, and concentration exercises. Yoga poses can be stimulating, grounding, energizing, and relaxing. Due to its nature of intentionally connecting the body, mind, and spirit, yoga is well suited for children and adults of all ages.

To practice yoga with kids, clear an area for physical movement. Yoga can be practiced on the carpet, on the floor, on yoga mats, on towels, outside on the grass, or even on the beach. Get creative with how you will use your space. If necessary and possible, move any breakable items and clear away clutter.

Keep the following tips in mind when preparing for a yoga practice with kids.

Be Dynamic

One of the best ways to keep kids’ attention during a yoga session is to vary the types of movements and shapes they make with their bodies and the speed at which they do them. This is especially important to remember for yoga with younger children. For example, their yoga practice might start with poses close to the ground but then invite them to quickly get up for standing poses. Their yoga practice might include a hopping, flapping Flying Bird Pose instead of a long-held static Eagle Pose. For a dynamic practice, encourage movement and exploration within the boundaries of the poses.

Be Creative

Allow and encourage movements that may seem silly, wild, or “not real yoga.” Many yoga poses are well suited for free expression. Instead of worrying about alignment or correctness, invite ideas and fresh perspectives from the young practitioners. Let your own beginner’s mind be tickled by the creativity cultivated.

Start Loud

Sometimes yoga poses, especially those based on animals, call for making sounds—and that can be loud. Consider modeling and encouraging noises for animal poses such as Lion’s Breath, Cow, Cat, Downward Facing Dog, Frog, Dolphin, and Pigeon. You may be surprised how much kids know about the sounds animals make! Similarly, normalizing body sounds (such as stomping, cracking and popping, farting, yawning, grunting, and squeaky feet on the floor) can help build confidence and self-esteem.

If your intention is to get out energy, let the entire practice be loud. If your intention is to calm the body and quiet restlessness, as you wind down your practice, even if it started out noisy, encourage whispers and quiet voices to support relaxation.

Try the following poses individually or strung together as a short sequence. Practice these poses with the children in your life or help them create a yoga routine for themselves. Put on some mellow music. Invite the kids to be involved with choosing some sacred items to go on an altar. Invite the kids to help with the arrangement of the space. These poses are designed for children ages three years to 10 years old and can be modified to be practiced in a chair, a wheelchair, or lying in a bed. The optional guiding questions are designed to be asked during the poses to maintain attention or after the poses for reflection.

1. Butterfly Pose

How to Do It

  • Sit on the floor.
  • Bring the bottoms of your feet together to touch. Let your knees open out wide like big, beautiful butterfly wings. Your legs could be resting and stretching or your knees could flap like wings. Your arms can move like wings, too, or massage your feet. Sit up tall or fold your head forward toward your feet.
  • Breathe in and out for as long as you’d like.
  • When you are finished flying, give your knees a big hug.

Guiding Questions

  • Where would you like to fly today?
  • What colors are your wings?
  • If you could fly to visit anyone, who would you like to visit?
  • If your nose is near your toes, do you have stinky feet?
  • Where in your body do you feel this pose helping you stretch or feel relaxed?

woman meditating

2. Tree Pose

How to Do It

  • Stand on one foot and find your balance. Your feet are your tree roots.
  • Bring your other foot onto your ankle, calf, or upper leg and push. Stand up as tall as you can. Reach your arms like tree branches into the air and reach for the sun. Remember that trees bend and sway with the wind so don’t worry if you are wobbly!
  • Try your Tree Pose on the other foot. Breathe in and out for as long as you’d like.
  • When you are finished balancing, stand on both feet and be still for three breaths.

Guiding Questions

  • What kind of tree are you today?
  • What color are your leaves?
  • Where are you growing?
  • What animals live near you or in you?
  • Where in your body do you feel this pose helping you stretch or get stronger?

3. Airplane Pose

How to Do It

  • Rest on your belly and stretch your arms and legs out long. When you are ready for take-off, lift your arms, legs, and head up as high as you can. You are flying!
  • Move your arms and legs as you fly through the clouds and be still as you cruise.
  • Breathe in and out for as long as you’d like.
  • When you are finished flying, flop onto your belly and turn your head to one side as if you are sleeping. Be still for five breaths.

Guiding Questions

  • Where would you like to fly today?
  • If you could fly to visit anyone, who would you like to visit?
  • How long do you think it will take to fly there?
  • What kinds of snacks should we pack for the trip?
  • What else do we need to remember to pack?
  • Where in your body do you feel this pose helping you stretch or get stronger?

4. Seed Pose

How to Do It

  • Come to your hands and knees and sit back toward your heels.
  • Bring your big toes together and your knees together and curl up into a tiny little ball. Your arms could stretch forward or backward.
  • Breathe in and out for as long as you’d like.
  • When you are finished germinating, begin to sprout and—slowly—start to roll up to sitting or standing. This pose is also called Child’s Pose, a pose named for kids who do yoga just like you! 

Guiding Questions

  • What kind of sprout will you grow into when you are watered and tended?
  • How long will it take you to grow?
  • Where are you planted?
  • Who planted you?
  • Where in your body do you feel this pose helping you stretch or feel relaxed?

5. Sleeping Pose

How to Do It

  • Rest on your back or your side as if you are sleeping. You can close your eyes or just keep them half-open. Remember this is only pretend sleep, but if you do start to feel sleepy, it’s okay to take a nap.
  • Let your body rest. Breathe in and out for as long as you’d like. If you have time, put on some deeply mellow music, like wind chimes, singing bowls, or bells to assist in relaxation during sleeping pose.
  • When you are finished sleeping, stretch and yawn like you are waking up in the morning and roll yourself up to sitting or standing.

Guiding Questions

  • What are you dreaming about?
  • Where is the most comfortable and cozy place to sleep?
  • Where in your body do you feel this pose helping you rest or feel relaxed?

If you are a regular yoga practitioner, yoga with kids may look, sound, and feel different than your adult yoga class or sadhana, but enjoy the variety in your practice and enjoy this time together. Namaste!

*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.

Looking for more ways to squeeze some nourishment into your busy day? Learn how to use one of the best tools you have—your breath—to feel less stressed anytime, anywhere with Breathwork, our self-paced online course. Learn More.

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About the Author
woman smiling in yoga pose

Lena Schmidt

Certified Yoga Instructor
Whether it’s exploring the local trails, playing pretzel on the yoga mat, or diving into a book on inner peace, Lena loves an adventure. You can find her teaching yoga in San Diego, leading retreats near and far, and empowering others to be the change they wish to see in the world. Learn more about Lena at www.yoginilena.com . The spiritual aspects of yoga have aided Lena in the never-ending search for peace, calm, and positivity within, and she’s passionate about sharing these tools with others. She is intentional about taking yoga off the mat and loves finding the bridges between the heart and mind, the individual and community, and...Read more