These 5 Yoga Poses Can Help Kids (& You) Reduce Anxiety & Calm Down
Little kids can have big feelings: these asanas can help.
For years, doctors, influencers, and that really sweet lady who lives down the street and only wears athleisure-wear have been extolling the virtues of practicing yoga. Based on practices and philosophies that some believe date back thousands of years, yoga is said to benefit body and mind, from increasing flexibility and balance to helping to maintain mental health. And it’s not just for stress-riddled adults: studies have shown that children can also benefit from yoga. A new book 108 Awesome Yoga Poses For Kids highlights a variety of asanas or yoga poses for kids to reduce anxiety, calm down, or just channel all that delightfully misguided kid energy.
While adult yoga is often approached in the spirit of intentionality and thoughtfulness kids... don’t always work that way. As anyone who’s ever caught an episode of Bluey can tell you, kids learn some of their most profound lessons through play and, honestly, yoga doesn’t have to be any different. Written by Yogi Beans co-founders Lauren and Brian Chaitoff, 108 Awesome Yoga Poses For Kids encourages kids to stomp like a dinosaur, flutter like a butterfly, and breathe like the sun (in fact, that’s the subtitle of the book). Yes, they’ll get all the benefits of yoga, but their approach is going to be different than, say, the studio you go to for alone time. In short, yoga for kids is going to be approached less as a practice and more like a game.
But let’s face it: little kids can have pretty big feelings, and that includes feeling anxiety and stress. Fortunately, there’s an asana for any occasion, and the following poses can help your child (and you, too) feel calm, centered, and balanced. Here are some of the best yoga poses for kids to calm down.
1. Mouse Pose
Balasana aka Child’s Pose
Mouse pose is great to practice any time you’re feeling overwhelmed and need a break. In fact, a lot of people who have done yoga in the past, no matter their age, can speak to the soothing nature of this pose. How many of you have gratefully hunkered down into this pose after a particularly difficult asana? Think of the rush of relief you’ve felt after hearing the instructor say “... and move into child’s pose.” To do this pose, start by kneeling with your knees wide and your big toes touching behind you. Lean forward, keeping your bum on your heels as you rest your forehead and chest on the floor. Your arms should be extended in front of you. Just relax here and breathe as long as you need to feel better.
This is a great pose to release energy or frustration when you need to calm down. In this standing pose, your feet should take a wide stance. With your hands clasped together, inhale as you reach your arms up. As you exhale, say “HA!” in a nice clear voice and swing your arms down as if you’re chopping wood... hence “lumberjack.” Repeat as required to feel better.
This pose allows the upper body to be totally loose, which helps release tension and stress you may not even know you were storing in your body. Begin in Mountain pose (standing straight and tall with your feet close but not touching). From there you simply melt down slowly over your legs and let your arms sway side to side. Gently shake or sway whatever dangling part of your body needs to shake or sway for as long as you need to get ragdoll relaxed.
4. Lion’s Breath
This breathing exercise is a helpful tool when you are feeling frustrated. Kneel with your bum on the inner arches of your feet. Then stretch your lion paws (or hands if you’re simply a human pretending to be a lion), stick out your lion chest, and take a great big lion breath in. On your exhale, let out a big roar and stick out your tongue. This movement is soothing but also kind of fun and just might make your anger feel a little bit smaller. Repeat as required to feel better.
5. Sun Breath
Surya Namaskar Variation
This offers a great opportunity to link breath and movement, which in and of itself is a great way to promote a sense of calm. Standing in Mountain pose, inhale and, as you do, reach your arms up to “catch the sun”. As you exhale, bend forward from the waist and “let it go,” holding your opposite elbow in your palms. Repeat as required to feel better.
There’s no panacea when it comes to anxiety, stress, or misguided energy, either in kids or adults, but these yoga poses for kids can go a long way in helping them learn how to manage those feelings.