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10 kid-friendly yoga poses and breathing techniques to help ease anxious young minds.

It’s pretty challenging to be young these days. With the onslaught of social media and its distractions, the rise of eco-anxiety, peer and school pressure and now COVID-19, it’s no wonder that many kids are showing early signs of stress and stress-related challenges.

Yoga is a fun, non-competitive activity that builds physical strength and improves coordination while simultaneously cultivating tools to manage anxiety, build resilience and bring calm to heated moments.

For some more stress-busting yoga moves, give these stretches a try. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

Mindful breathing teaches children about the ‘magical breath’ that lives deep inside of them and can be accessed at any time, without anyone knowing. Extending the inhale and exhale regulates the nervous system and helps you to feel calmer almost instantly.

Here, I’ll share a short sequence to do with your kids at any time to cultivate strength, build confidence and induce calm, as well as an easy mindfulness activity they can do in the garden or local park.

Roll out a yoga mat each, play some soothing instrumental music and have fun.

1. Balloon Belly Breaths

Sit in an easy cross-legged position with a tall spine. Choose a favourite colour balloon and lay hands over your belly. Inhale slowly through your nose and imagine blowing up your balloon belly. Feel your belly swell as your balloon inflates.

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Don't underestimate the simple act of taking deep, nourishing breaths. Image: Supplied/Beth Berowksy.
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Exhale and draw your belly towards your spine. Take five deep belly breaths – feel how your mind settles and calms. This is a great breath to do in bed before bedtime. It also helps to support a strong posture.

2. Sandwich

Sit with legs extended and a tall spine. Spread your belly and legs with your favourite filling. Inhale, stretch your arms to the sky. Exhale, fold your body over your legs.

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The 'sandwich' pose is a great stretch for tight hamstrings. Image: Supplied/Beth Berowksy.

Take five even and smooth breaths – feel the stretch at the back of your legs and the release in your back body.

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*and breathe* Image: Supplied/Beth Berowksy.
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3. Cat/Cow

From hands and knees, inhale, lower your belly and open shoulders and chest – chin slightly lifted. Moo like a cow.

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Start in the 'cow' pose. Image: Supplied/Beth Berowksy.

Exhale, arch upper back, tuck chin into chest and meow like an angry cat.

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And move into the 'cat' pose. Image: Supplied/Beth Berowksy.
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Repeat this cycle five times – a great release for upper back and shoulder tension and building good posture.

4. Down Dog

From hands and knees walk hands slightly forward and feet slightly back. Lift your bottom high into the air like an upside-down V.

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It's one of the most common poses in yoga. Image: Supplied/Beth Berowksy.

Keep knees slightly bent and relax your head and neck – bark like a dog! Can you lift one leg up at a time to pee?

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Also known as one-legged downward dog. Image: Supplied/Beth Berowksy.
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5. Child’s Pose

Sit on your heels and slowly bring your forehead to the ground. Rest your arms alongside your body.
Take five deep breaths - feel how calm, quiet and still you can be.

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Feel the stress melt away. Image: Supplied/Beth Berowksy.

6. Tree

Stand tall and strong and lift one foot to rest on the inside ankle of the second leg. Soften your gaze. When you feel balanced, slide your foot slightly up your inner calf. Knee alert - do not press foot against your knee. Reach arms to the sky like branches and wiggle your fingers like leaves or bring your hands together at your chest. Take five deep breaths - feel your strength and power. Switch sides.

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Do this pose regularly to strengthen balance and concentration. Image: Supplied/Beth Berowksy.
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7. Reclining Butterfly

Lie on your back with your knees bent out to the sides and your feet pressed together. Close eyes, relax arms by the side or place them on your belly and enjoy five Belly Breaths. Feel your hips release.

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This is a great 'hip opener' both kids and adults will love. Image: Supplied/Beth Berowksy.

8. Resting

Lie on your back with arms and legs stretched out. Option to place a semi-precious stone on your forehead. Tighten and squeeze every muscle in your body and face, hold for five seconds, then let go. Relax fully and rest. Close eyes or soften your gaze. Take five deep breaths as you rest your whole body and mind - feel supported by the earth below you.

Yoga for kids Coronavirus
Simple and restorative. Image: Supplied/Beth Berowksy.
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9. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness - or learning how to be in the present moment – teaches children how to see and accept things as they are, without emotion or judgment, to simply be in the moment consciously and with a sense of calm.

 

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Mindfulness experiences encourage slowing down, paying attention to a single point and noticing how we are responding. Practising mindfulness results in less reactive behaviour and builds resilience.

10. Take a walk

Take a silent walk in the garden or through a nearby park. If you can be barefoot, all the better. Before you begin, decide on what you’re going to pay attention to.

- Listen for different sounds.
- Notice different smells.
- Notice different colours or choose one colour eg. green and see how many shades of green you can find.
- Notice different types of leaves/flowers/trees.
- How many insects/birds you can find?
- Throughout the walk, pay attention to every step each foot takes.

Beth Borowsky is the founder of The Karma Class. Beth has helped hundreds of teachers, schools and children ease anxiety, build resilience and bring calm into the classroom. You can follow The Karma Class here.

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