During the summer months, children can take advantage of the warmer weather and longer days by spending more time outdoors doing yoga. Parents can encourage kids to practice simple poses in the backyard, at the beach, parks, zoos, or even during a picnic. Doing yoga can help kids unwind, build concentration and focus, and obtain physical activity at the same time. The following six yoga poses will help keep kids fit and focused during the summer.
The inhale pose, pictured above, is one way for children to begin to focus on their breath to calm their minds and bodies. Have them take a deep breath in through their nose and then slowly exhale their breath, also through the nose, with their mouth closed. Kids can take several deep breaths in inhale pose before moving on to the other more active postures. It is important to breathe in and out through the nose while practicing yoga, as not only is this type of breathing very calming, but it also increases oxygen and circulation in the body.
Many postures do not require a yoga mat. For example, kids can pretend to be birds and practice the bird pose pictured above. This posture helps with balance, focus, and concentration. Standing on their tiptoes, children can flap their arms like wings and imagine they are flying through the air. Have them listen for the sound of birds outside, and see if they can identify what kind of birds they are. Some common backyard birds might include woodpeckers, hummingbirds, blue jays, or finches. Children can also practice bird pose at the beach and pretend they are seagulls, sandpipers, or pelicans.
A visit to the zoo can also prompt your child to stop and strike a pose. There are many birds at the zoo, including flamingos. The flamingo pose pictured above is great for concentration, as it takes a tremendous amount of focus to be able to stand on one leg and balance. This posture also strengthens the leg and eye muscles. Have children stand tall and then hold onto one knee, while focusing straight ahead of them. Try to have them balance in this pose for the count of eight before switching sides.
Going to the park is another place where kids can practice yoga outdoors. For instance, kids can use their imaginations to pretend they are slides. The slide pose pictured above is fun to do and is also beneficial for children as it strengthens their core, arm, and leg muscles. To become a slide, have children sit with their knees bent. Then have them bring their arms behind them as they slowly straighten their legs and lift their hips.
Flying kites is a great summer activity at the beach or park, and kids can use their imaginations to become colorful kites. The kite pose is great for weight loss as it trims the waist, helps to reduce excess hip fat, and expands the chest, bringing more oxygen and circulation into the body. Have children stand tall and bring their arms up in the air with their palms together. First have them stretch to the right side and hold the pose for eight counts before switching to the left side of their body. Kites were originally invented in China because of the availability of the materials for them—silk and bamboo. Learn more about kites with kids, and invite them to describe what color kite they are and what type of decorations are on their kites as they practice this yoga pose.
Picnics are an additional fun way to enjoy the summer warm weather, and children can imagine they are picnic tables as they practice the table pose pictured above. This posture opens the chest and shoulders, strengthens the core muscles, and stretches the hamstrings. This pose can also be practiced at home before meals, with kids taking turns “setting each other’s table.”
Parents can bond with kids doing yoga with them, and one fun way to do this is playing beach ball toss. This game involves using a marker to write the six yoga poses described above on the segments of a beach ball, which are usually divided by color. During a yoga session, toss out the ball to children. The child who catches the ball demonstrates the pose facing him or her on the ball. Then everyone does the pose together. Practicing these six simple yoga poses is a healthy way for kids (and adults) to naturally unwind, sharpen their focus, and get physical activity at the same time during the summer months.
Illustrations by Kathleen Rietz.