Yoga and meditation help children find their calm and sense of connection while being fun. Inspiring your children to practise yoga and meditation offers them tools for life to help them live healthier and better cope with stress and other challenges. When children are content, they are less likely to be troublesome, so it can offer a relief for the parents too!
Here are some tips to inspire children to practise yoga and meditation that work well with my children:
Be the example
Never use coercion to get children to participate. Instead, lead by example. Children copy what they see. Let your children see you practicing and, before you know it, they will want to join you in your yoga or meditation practice.
Respect their space
When they have taken to it, encourage your children to practice by providing them with their own yoga mat. This helps them take ownership of their practice as something they can do for themselves, not only something they join in when mummy or daddy does it.
A routine is very helpful for children, so ideally do your practice at the same time each day so that it becomes integrated in their daily routine. However, be flexible – it can also be done anywhere and at any time!
Yoga with children is entirely different from an adult practice. Children naturally invoke interaction, creative play and laughter – do not expect them to go against their nature and be still and quiet. During asanas, they may climb on you, slip under you or move around you, but rather than finding it frustrating you will find this enjoyable as your relationship becomes closer and stronger. Meditation can also be introduced as a form of play.
Introduce them to guided meditation
Sit in a circle and prepare your children for a “story.” Ask them to close their eyes and imagine themselves in the story. Guide them into becoming aware of their breathing and relaxing their body, then begin telling the story, such as imagining flying high above the clouds or being a mermaid swimming in the ocean. Allow them to observe what is around them and how they are feeling. Invite them to take turns at guiding the meditation and you may be surprised what they may come up with – children are very creative and this enhances their creativity.
Draw mandalas and yantras
Another great meditation for children that enhances creativity is drawing. Offer them some art paper, colours and pencils, demonstrate how it’s done and invite them to draw their own mandala. You could also try copying a yantra or focusing on the elements, the sun and the moon.
Include mantra chanting, either while sitting together in a meditation practice or simply as a fun practice that can be done even while they are putting away their toys. Children love to sing and they love repetition. Chanting improves their mood and concentration and has powerful effects. It is best to first introduce them to chanting while being seated together and bring awareness about how they feel after chanting.
Aum is the simplest mantra – the sound of creation – and children really connect with that sound. You can gradually introduce them to more complex mantras, such as the Mahamantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
Yoga is not something that is only done on the mat. Incorporate various practices throughout the day, such as a period of silence for about two hours in the afternoon. Children can learn that sometimes we play and sometimes we need to be quiet with ourselves – both are needed and both are to be appreciated. It is also a very good break for the parent and helps both parents and children find balance.
Include a massage routine
Massage is an excellent bedtime routine and children love it so much! It has multiple benefits, ranging from a variety of health benefits to a deepening connection between you and your child. It also serves to relax children before bedtime by quieting their mind as they become more aware of their body.
Practise yoga nidra before bedtime
My children really enjoy relaxing in shavasana (corpse pose) while I draw their awareness to various body parts. Sometimes they make it “fun” by slightly moving those body parts as I go along. This, again, is very relaxing as it gives their minds something to focus on while creating body awareness, inviting a good night’s sleep.
There is no one way to introduce your children to the various yoga and meditation practises – the important thing is not to force them but familiarise them with the practices so that they becomes part of their lifestyle. The more fun and positive the experience you give them, the more likely they are to keep it up as they grow.
Subscribe to our monthly 'Awareness' newsletter to receive more inspiration in your inbox.
Yoga for Kids Teacher Trainings are held at the Lotus Room.
Contact Jenny for more information.