When may kids start doing yoga? What are the different sorts of classes and postures?

Can yoga be practised by children? What are the benefits? How do I find a course or a teacher? The answers of Martine Giammarinaro, a yoga teacher in Paris.

What type of yoga is practised in the little ones?

"Yoga is a practice that can be perfectly adapted to children", begins Martine Giammarinaro.

When may kids start doing yoga? What are the different sorts of classes and postures?

Any baby, in kindergarten... What is the ideal age to do yoga?

“You simply have to adapt to the anatomy and physiology of the child, which is not the same as in adults”. In addition to the physical aspects, yoga for children must also take into account their maturity. This is why a real yoga session can be considered from the age of 5 only. 

"There is yoga for the little ones, which won't really be yoga,  " says the teacher. On the other hand, from the age of 5, yoga can really be put into practice, the children are then old enough to socialize with other children and understand the instructions”.

Yoga sessions for children of this age will also be more playful and joyful than the traditional yoga that we know for adults. "In older children, in adolescence, we approach more adult yoga, with the implementation of philosophical principles during the sessions, such as self-confidence, self-esteem... In children, we will use albums or illustrated cards to show them the positions and grab their attention”.

Lessons, workshops, mats... How to do mini-yoga for children?

To choose the right course, the teacher recommends that parents visit the website of the RYE association, for Research on Yoga in Education. The association is approved by the Ministry of National Education and provides training to become a yoga teachers for children, among others.

 "The association, which has existed for many years, is a guarantee of quality for parents who wish to enrol their child with a teacher who will be recommended in this way", recommends Martine Giammarinaro. Is specific equipment required? 

“No, answers the teacher, the mats for the yoga postures must be provided by the teacher, for the course”.And what is the price for a yoga class? According to Martine Giammarinaro, "  prices vary depending on the region, but in general, for children, they remain more affordable than courses for adults".

If you do not wish to register your child or if you prefer to do sessions at home, it is quite possible to obtain a detailed and illustrated book as well as a carpet. All you need is a Zen session in the living room or in your child's bedroom, to implement all the postures!

What postures can you do with a child at home?

With the help of a yoga book, you can perform together with the posture of the dog upside down, the cat or the cobra.

Positions of the cat, the cobra, the dog... the books and their commentaries will explain everything to you!

To begin, settle into a subdued atmosphere with background music such as nature sounds or other soothing sounds. Position yourself seated on a carpet with your child, side by side or face to face. Start first by doing breathing exercises, to refocus on yourself. 

Take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. You can decorate this exercise with a feather for example, so that the child can see the effect of his breath.

You can start the session with self- massages, or put your hands on your head, eyes, neck, then shoulders, back, knees, and up to your ankles.

Once this moment of relaxation has been accomplished, it is time to move on to the postures, detailed with drawings and a complete description in children's yoga books.

The fan pose

With your child, you can first opt ​​for the posture of the fan. Just stand up with your feet hip-width apart. You raise your arms in front of you and shake your hands, then release your arms along your body.

The posture of the cat

The cat is another popular position for children. You have to get on all fours and exhale while gradually rounding your back, from the pelvis to the top of your head. And in a second step, inhale while digging the back, from the skull to the pelvis. Repeat the exercise at least three times.

Downward facing dog pose

Another popular yoga poses for kids, and one that they sometimes do naturally is downward facing dog. The body then forms an inverted V. 

To do this, you have to get on all fours, palms of your hands well anchored in the ground, and lift your buttocks while keeping your head relaxed between your arms. Breathe deeply in this pose and then relax. This exercise can also be repeated 3 times.

The Cobra Stance

Finally, the posture of the cobra is done on your stomach. Stretch out your arms and lift your chest. This movement is similar to what babies do spontaneously when put on their stomachs. To start again three times also.

The session, which can last from 15 to 45 minutes depending on the age of the child, ends with a moment of relaxation and breathing. Lie on your back and spread your arms slightly, palms facing out. We breathe quietly and listen to the sensations felt, then grab our knees and roll our pelvis from right to left before getting up.

Why have your child practice yoga? What are the benefits?

Parents have different reasons for wanting to push their children to practice yoga, according to Martine Giammarinaro. “Sometimes they do it themselves and introduce them to the practice during a parent-child class,” says the teacher. "But sometimes, it's also to try to calm their overly agitated child, or to 'loosen up a shy child, or even to help a reserved child gain self-confidence... 

In any case, the child must adhere to the idea of ​​practising, you can't force him to do yoga exercises. And then it must be a moment of complicity with the parent. In all cases, the child will benefit from learning to live together and will learn to refocus on himself and his breathing, through these yoga classes and exercises. It is also a moment of relaxation, of well-being, to learn how to improve your concentration and free yourself from stress.