Yoga is an amazing way of guiding your child's development of movement during this time for so SO many reasons:
Develops and strengthens gross motor skills, balance, coordination, fine motor skills
Stimulates the vestibular system (absolutely crucial for development in all areas of childhood, more on this in an upcoming email).
Relieves stress and anxiety
Develops emotional intelligence, helps children to identify how they’re feeling, regulate their emotions and feel calm.
Develops body awareness (proprioception)
Builds confidence - child will feel themselves getting strong, more coordinated, poses become easier
Builds focus and concentration - yoga requires you to be “in the moment.”
Independent activity - can be done anywhere at any time, i.e. stretching on the side of the road during a road trip or overwhelmed at the playground. Take a yoga break and do a couple stretches.
How to Introduce Yoga to Your Child
The best way to introduce yoga to your child or pique their interest is to do yoga yourself. Children love to imitate the adults around them.
This doesn't mean you need to do hour-long yoga classes with your child.
Even just introducing a few simple stretches is enough. You can use the rhyme below:
I am as tall as a tree (on tip toes, reaching up) I am as wide as a house (stretch arms and legs out as far as comfortable) I am as thin as a pin (stand up straight, feet together, hands to your side) I am as small as a mouse (crouch down into a ball/child’s pose and stay here for a few seconds, gradually adding more seconds over time)
After introducing a few simple stretches, you can build on this, introducing a few more movements at a time, by:
Watching a Youtube Kids Yoga Channel - Cosmic Kids Yoga is really fun. My 4 year old loves this one.
Yoga Whale - a great little board book to introduce to yoga to infants & toddlers
Yoga Pretzels - a deck of yoga positions for older toddlers/preschoolers+. To use this, chose 3 cards and put them in a basket on your child's Montessori shelf or in their workspace to use whenever they like. You can rotate them every week or two.
If they're really enjoying it, you can even get them their own yoga mat. This can help give them a sense of belonging to the practice (this is my special mat!).
Introduce Your Child to Mindfulness
A Montessori exercise that promotes mindfulness and stillness is the Quiet Game. There are many different interpretations of this game out there so you can try it however it works for you.
Start by whispering to bring the energy down. Tell your child that you're going to play the quiet game where we try to sit really still and quiet.
Because young children don’t really understand time, you can whisper that they’ll hear a sound play when the quiet game is over. Set a timer on your phone to ring a bell at the end.
You can set the timer and sit for 15 seconds, 30 seconds, or whatever length of time you think the child is going to be able to successfully sit quietly. Even 5 seconds. You want to start with success.
Once the timer goes off, you can say something like “wow, it was so quiet in here.”
You can play this every day or every couple days, slowly adding more time. You also never want to force your child to play or make it a chore. If they don’t want to sit quietly, you can always invite them to read a book or find a quiet activity to encourage a quiet period.
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