Yoga for kids is an awesome way to connect and celebrate the seasons with little ones.
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We were lucky enough to have two awesome children’s yoga instructors from Inner Bliss Yoga Studio in Rocky River, Ohio: Cheri Gotliebowski and Allison Carney create a wintertime kids yoga sequence for us!
Connect with your child and warm up this winter with this sequence of calming meditation exercises and yoga poses for kids that are designed to go along with Caralyn Buehner’s book, Snowmen at Night.
Sitting up tall in a cross legged or comfortable seated position close your eyes and place your hands on your belly. Begin to feel your breath moving in and out. Start to notice where else you can feel your breath moving. Inhale and exhale here noticing your breath for a few moments.
Now, move so that you’re back-to-back with your partner. Lengthen your spine and make sure your backs are touching. Continue with your deep inhales and exhales here and see if you can feel and hear your partners breath. This is a great way to connect with your own breath/body as well as connecting with your partner to begin the sequence.
Warm-Up: Building Your Snowman
To prepare for the story, warm up by making yourselves into snowmen. Start in a seated position with legs out in front, lifting arms up overhead and then reaching forward and side-to-side, gathering up “snow”. Then, pat yourselves down to make sure your snowman body is good and stuck together!
Make a cup shape with both hands and start patting or tapping your body, working your way from your feet to your head. This stimulates the blood flow and awakens your body. The kiddos love doing this, especially if you take a little King Kong moment while you pat your chest! :)
Read the Book
Read the book Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner to your child or children, pausing throughout the story to try the following poses and movement activities that match up with the scenes in the book. Feel free to explore with your kids and create even more movement possibilities!
Place your hands and knees on the ground in a table top position. Make sure you are steady and strong with your hands and legs pressing into the ground. See if you can begin to slide one hand out stretching your arm straight out in front of you, balancing on three points. Sliding your arm back down, see if you can begin to alternate arms, stretching one out at a time.
Once you get a hang of that, see if you can begin to stretch out one arm and the opposite leg at the same time, moving back and forth between left and right. Make this playful by testing out different tempos going in slow motion at first and building up to a quick slip and slide motion like snowmen sliding across the ice!
Ice Skating Partner Pose
Start with both feet firmly planted on the ground. Lengthen your spine so you’re standing up tall. Make sure your belly muscles are strong and activated as you reach your arms out to the side. Slowly begin to lift one foot off the ground, sliding your foot up your leg to rest either on the outside of your standing foot, calf, or thigh (never directly on your knee) like you’re an ice skater!
Try this with a partner by standing next to a friend and wrapping an arm around each other’s waist (as if you were giving a sideways hug) like a pair of figure skaters. With your outside arm reaching out to balance, slide your outside leg up your standing leg into Tree Pose.
Once you and your partner have your balance, bring your outside arm up overhead and reach for your partners hand creating an arch or rainbow with your arms. It always helps to find something stable to look at in any balancing pose.
Sledding Partner Pose
Sit face to face with your partner with your knees bent, feet on the ground, toes almost touching. Sitting up nice and tall, reach and grab your partner’s hands. Gently begin to lean back so that both partner’s arms are straight and you’re holding each others weight a little.
From here, begin to slowly inch one foot and then the other towards your partner so that eventually the bottoms of both your feet are touching and lifted in the air. See if you can keep your spine long and heart lifted while you keep your balance.
Play around with movement in this pose as you pretend to sled and slide down a snowy hill: rocking, swaying, moving legs side to side.
Then, try sledding another way: lay down on your belly next to your partner, arms stretched back beside your body. Reach out and hold your partner’s hand, then gently lift your head, chest, arms, and legs off the ground, like you’re sledding head first down a hill with a friend!
This is a fun way to explore why it’s important to take time to rest and relax. Pretending you are a big sleepy bear, give yourself a big hug. Squeeze yourself into a tight ball and then lay on your back with arms and legs stretched out. Make yourself as big as you can.
Repeat this several times and end with a short visualization having your kids imagine themselves as sleeping bears, calm and quiet breathing deeply in their cozy cave.
Hand to Heart Loving Kindness Mantra
End your yoga session by sitting face-to-face with your partner in a cross legged position so your knees touch. Placing your right hand on your own heart and your left hand on top of your partners hand (which should be on their own heart) breathe together for several breaths and then close out your practice by saying,
“May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you have peace.”
Have fun playing around with all of the silly things snowmen might do when they come to life at night!
-When the snowmen are ice skating in the story, see how many different ways you can balance together. Try standing face to face with some space between you and your partner and leaning into each other, pressing hands together.
-When the snowmen are sledding, see if you can connect different body parts together to make a sled train (ie: connect a shoulder to your partner’s foot or connect head to head and see what that might feel like).
-The Hand-to-Heart exercise is a really great way to connect in a heartfelt way. If you have more than two people, try sitting in a circle and place your left on on your own heart, then place your right hand on the person’s hand to your right. You can practice any kind of mantra from here.
For example, at night before bed with your kiddos, you could say “May you sleep well, may you have peaceful dreams, may you feel rested when you awaken.” There’s no right or wrong, just have fun exploring all the different ways you and your kiddos can move and connect!
Skill Areas Addressed:
Allison Carney is working on her degree in Early Childhood Education at Cleveland State University. She is a Level 2 Little Flower Yoga Certified Kids Yoga Teacher and has also been trained in Yoga and Mindfulness for Children. She is a Yoga Teacher in Training with Inner Bliss Yoga Studio, studying under the amazing teacher, Tammy Lyons. Allison loves working with children because of their great imaginations and willingness to learn and be creative. She loves to read – the Harry Potter series is her favorite- and travel, visiting New York City as much as she can!
Cheri Gotliebowski is a Little Flower Yoga trained kids instructor who teaches at Inner Bliss Yoga Studio. She has walked many paths exploring work with children, including wilderness therapy for at risk youth, residential treatment for children in the state’s care, a creative arts summer program, and one-on-one care. Her undergraduate studies focused on Neuroscience and Dance and she continues to be fascinated by movement and the body-mind connection with regard to health and wellness.