Baby Yogis: 4 Benefits of Yoga for Toddlers
While meeting the needs of a toddler, it seems impossible to integrate exercise or self-care into your daily routine. You certainly can’t do a yoga routine while your toddler is awake, climbing shelves, eating random objects and being a basket case in general — or can you?
Parents who practice yoga in front of their children find that their toddlers are intrigued by the weird moves that Mom or Dad are making on the mat. That’s because your toddler is constantly watching what you do and learning from you at this developmental stage.
While focusing on breathing or in the middle of the goddess pose, a tiny body may plop itself down next to you, trying its best to copy you.
If your toddler is able to follow you and execute most of the poses, as many parents have discovered, why not do your yoga routine together? Yoga can help your child sleep or calm down after a meltdown. Both parent and toddler will find a multitude of benefits when sharing a yoga practice:
1. Regulate and Balance Energy
Do you spend your day chasing and arguing with a rambunctious toddler? What if you could help them channel that energy into something constructive and fun?
Baby yoga is an active and calming practice that can help your child regulate and balance their energy. Your toddler won’t become a perfectly well-behaved child as a result of practicing yoga, but it is a challenge that their developing minds and bodies are enthusiastic about trying.
Yoga for children doesn’t reduce energy. Rather the energy is focused in a healthy direction. Your child learns to direct their energy in a fun and calming new practice.
2. Relieve Stress
Yoga is great for self-care and self-soothing for both parents and children. Practicing yoga relieves stress in children and adults, improving the ability to manage emotions. For children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), yoga may help them deal with behavioral problems.
A child’s yoga class or practice should be filled with playfulness and laughter, such as silly limb shaking before practicing focused breathing. Balancing spontaneity and fun with calming breaths lets your child feel in control and free to have fun, giving you both a little down time.
3. Cultivate Physical Development
With all that they get into, thankfully, children are extremely active, resilient and flexible. This also makes baby yoga perfect to help their physical development in a focused way, with your supervision.
There are many easy poses to practice with your child. Pigeon poses, lotus poses and downward dog are great to help both parent and child maintain flexibility. When your child is ready, more difficult poses like the donkey pose and tree pose assist with developing coordination and balance. Encouraging an active lifestyle from a young age could foster enthusiasm for other mindful activities or fitness later in life.
4. Engage Actively by Using Your Imagination
Your yoga session may never again be completely quiet and soothing as it once was practicing alone, but it will be more fun. Use your new yoga session to engage your imagination and your child’s. It’s ideal as a form of structured playtime!
Baby yoga can help develop your toddler’s imagination. Remember all those weird names for yoga poses? There’s lion’s breath, cat-and-cow and downward dog? Let your child be inventive and playful. This is a great opportunity for your child to practice animal sounds during cat-and-cow and counting as poses are held.
Unstructured play while transitioning between poses helps your child flex their imagination muscles. Watch your child form creative ideas and mental connections in the moment. Unstructured playtime for children is imperative for cognitive, social, and behavioral development. Nearly 40% of the school districts in the US have reduced the time children have for recess, so why not use time at home to provide them with the same fun!
Sharing your yoga routine with your toddler is beneficial in many ways. You engage actively with your child, helping them to balance energy, relieve stress, develop physically and use their imagination. You’ll also get to spend some quality time together.
Don’t be afraid to let your child create original poses or to meow or bark. Let the yoga routine develop naturally as you play with and learn from each other. Let the order and structure of each pose bend in response to the spontaneity of your imaginations. From downward dog to goddess pose, you and your child will have fun and find your balance.