Yoga allows your child to use their bodies, and focus and release the energy that has built up through-out the day. Giving your child a positive way to stretch their muscles helps release tension, promotes relaxation, and helps bring a sense of calm. Incorporating yoga into your child’s bedtime routine, gives your child the opportunity to shift her minds’ focus from being preoccupied with daily stressors to focusing her attention on yoga postures, relaxation techniques and breath work, all of which result in a more restful night’s sleep.
The benefits of establishing a bedtime yoga routine for your child are that it enables children to fall asleep faster and achieve a higher quality of sleep; it helps reduce irritability, crankiness and hyperactivity; and it encourages parents to interact and bond with their children in a positive and healthy way that everyone will enjoy. Additionally, parents who are doing the poses with their children will also reap the benefits of a bedtime yoga routine, and are likely to enjoy a higher quality of sleep themselves.
To help ‘set the mood’ for your yoga routine (and bedtime), you can also introduce soft lighting and calming music in the home or bedroom. This will help to ease the transition from activity to rest as you physically make the environment serene and peaceful!
Below are 8 poses that are great for toddlers as well as older children to try before bed. You will want your child to hold each pose for 5 – 30 seconds depending on their age and physical ability. While in each pose, have your child focus on their breathing, as opposed to holding his/her breath; to do this, have your child:
- Take deep breaths in through his nose to the count of two; and
- Breathe out through his nose to the count of two
- Repeat 3-5 times
Moon Salute (Mountain Pose to Standing Forward Bend Pose)
This pose is similar to a Sun Salute, but instead the child is saluting the moon. Have your child begin by standing up straight and tall. Have him stretch his arms over his head. Instruct him to fold over his legs in a Forward Bend, and then have him come all the way back up to a stand with his arms reaching over head again. Have him end standing tall, with hands by his side. Repeat three times.
Falling Star (Triangle Pose)
Have your child stand with her feet wider then hip-width apart and her arms raised out to the side, palms down. Have her tilt her torso right and place her right hand close to her right foot. Her left hand should stretch out towards the ceiling while she is looking up or straight ahead. Hold this position for 5 seconds before returning to standing position. Repeat on each side up to three times.
Twinkle Toes (Sitting Forward Bend Pose)
Next, have your child in the seated position and have him gently bend forward at his hips and have him stretch out straight in front of him until he is touching his toes. Hold for 5 seconds and sit up again. Repeat three times.
Dream Catcher (Flying Heart Pose)
For this pose, have your child bring the soles of her feet together so her legs form a diamond shape. Her hands should rest a few inches behind her bottom with her fingers pointing away from her body. Have her lean back slightly, lift her chest and drop her head back. Hold this pose for 5 seconds and repeat up to 3 times.
Sleepy-Child’s Pose (Child’s Pose)
Have your child start in a kneeling position. Instruct him to drop his bottom toward his heels while he stretches the rest of his body down and forward. In the fully stretched position, his arms should rest in a relaxed position along the floor, with his stomach comfortably resting on top of his thighs, and his forehead resting on the mat/floor.
Candlestick (Legs-up-the-wall Pose)
Have your child start off by lying on her back and instruct her to extend both legs up towards the ceiling. Make sure her neck is protected and encourage her to keep her eyes on her toes and avoid looking around. Extend the arms along her sides, palms facing up. Hold for 5-30 seconds.
Hugs (Wind Relieving Pose)
As your child moves closer to sleep, have her hug her knees into her chest and squeeze all the tension out of her body. Encourage her to squeeze every muscle in her body (from her face to her toes!) and then release so the body feels nice and light and relaxed. Do this one time.
Goodnight Little Body (Corpse Pose)
Finally, have your child lay on her back, feet shoulder width apart and arms on the floor beside the hips, palms towards the ceiling. While in Corpse Pose try to use a meditative exercise that will help your child move closer towards sleep by saying good night to each body part. Have her start with her toes and move all the way up to her head. She should say good night to her toes, then each foot, her shins, knees, thighs, then hips. Continue with her pelvis, behind, stomach, ribs, chest, then entire torso. Next are her fingers, hands, forearms, elbows, upper arms, your shoulders, neck and her face. Then have her relax her face and say good night to her entire body.