TODDLER YOGA

on 15 April 2018

Hello beautiful momma.

Do you know this moment, when you could finally put your toddler down for a nap, you unroll your mat, sit down, take a deep breath and then you hear. . .“MOMMY“!

This is the moment where your mind will probably goes: Oh great. That`s it for today! BUT don`t roll your mat up just yet, mama! Because it just means you can`t practice alone. But you can practice together even if this means you have to minimize or adjust your practice according to your toddler. And if you allow them to anticipate, I promise you will be amazed on how much you can actually do TOGETHER. Further you aid their natural development of movement and increase their own body awareness while you bond with your child on a whole new level. Allowing them to join your practice is also the best way to cultivate their own mindfulness as well promote an active lifestyle from early days on.

And here are tons of more reasons WHY you should go for it:

  • reduce anxiety
  • improve digestion
  • promote better sleep
  • boost immune system
  • turn fussiness into happiness
  • increase neuromuscular development
  • cultivate self-esteem and positive body image
  • reduce stress and develop solutions with relaxation techniques

How our brain works..

Brain cells do not form neural pathways until they are exposed to environmental stimuli. Stimuli get absorbed through our senses and are then further transmitted to our brain. So each and every experience – if its either listening to music, smelling on a flower, tasting some fruit or playing with sand– all of it stimulates our brain and gives the order to connect with more brain cells and that is how we form new pathways.

Yoga is a conscious movement linked to breath which means it taps right into the sensory-motor system and encourages the brain to build up more connections and bridges every time we practice. That is why it`s so necessary that kids are allowed to move while they are learning because that`s just the natural way of how our brain works. And I remembered I did it all the time. Every time I had to learn a poem or vocabulary the first thing I did was sitting on our swing in the backyard rocking back and forth while repeating the words I had to learn. So in a perfect world schools would encourage the children to move during or after each class.

Since Maya got my most regular student (or better said I got hers) I thought I am going to share a bit of how we like to practice. But consider that this is a simple suggestion. And mostly keep in mind that EVERY DAY IS DIFFERENT. What makes fun on monday can be gone on tuesday. So go with the flow and trust your tot they sure know what they are doing :) All YOU need to do is giving them your time and full presence. 

Rule #1 NEVER ever force them into doing something they feel not ready to do. Never ever. Allow them to play around, experiment or to simply watch. Allow them to have fun and you will too. 

Breath work

First start with doing some breathing exercises. Seriously every one can do this, even your little toddler. We just need to find a way to make it accessible for them. 

  • The bee sound: Take a deep breath in and on your exhale start humming like a bee.
  • The ballon breath: Imagine your belly is a big ballon. So slowly blow up the ballon on your inhale and slowly deflate the ballon on your exhale. You may want to practice this in a laying down position so they are able to feel their belly rising and falling. They can also put their tiny hands on your belly when you practice your breathing.

Warm up

I like to begin with some gentle stretches and often combine it with a bit of massage. At the beginning it was mostly me massaging her but nowadays she is also very eager to give some back, so enjoy your treat momma ;) I also bring in some songs which we team up with easy body movement. Ideal songs for that are: Head shoulders knees & toes and the wheels on the bus.

Down Dog & Push-ups

I love to do my down dogs since I have the feeling I can stretch my whole body with one single pose. Down dog is also somehow the first yoga pose little kids catch up on and immediately try to copy. Every time Maya sees me doing one she jumps right into it either next to me or below me. Or she simply uses my down dog as a little bridge to crawl underneath. We sprinkle this pose all over our day - in between cooking, dancing or after napping.

To get a bit of an extra work out on some days I implement some yoga push ups into my down dogs. Mostly Maya crawls right underneath, resting on her back, her little cheeky smile facing me and waiting for her nose to nose rubs every time I push down to the mat. 

Easy Cobra

Lay on your belly with your bellybutton still touching the ground. Have your elbows bent and aligned with your shoulders. Your legs are straight and engaged which means the top of your feet press into the mat.  Press your palms on to the ground while pushing your chest forward. Your shoulders release and push away from your ears towards the floor. Allow your little partner in crime to sit on top of your sacrum (lower back) and maybe you even get a bit of a shoulder rub.

Bow pose

Back strengthening got really important to me especially since having a kiddo. With all the holding, lifting and carrying of my precious baby girl I often forget about my own posture so bow pose is a good one to refer to. It opens your chest while at the same time strengthens your arms, shoulders and upper back. 

Begin on your belly, bend both knees and try to grab the outside of your feet. Take a deep breath in, push into your hands and lift up. Imagine you move your chest forward. If this is not accessible for your (yet) use a strap around your feet.

Childs pose 

This is an amazing restorative posture even more with a toddler on your back. 

Begin seated on your heels, take a deep breath in and on your exhale fold. Your hands relaxed next to your legs or straight forward. Allow your knees to open and your back to naturally round. Imagine you are a rock, a turtle or a shell. All bundled up cozy and safe. 

If your little one decides to climb up onto your back, smile and enjoy. Since that extra weight gives you the opportunity to have a really nice adjustment for your hips.

Foreward fold

An ideal way to stretch your legs while having some toe to toe contact. We like to sing a long to “ row row row the boat“ to integrate some more movement in our upper body and of course to make it more fun.

Flying baby

This is her all time favorite pose. While she keeps flying up and down I can work on my core. So it`s a win win. 

Lay on your back with your knees bent and then allow them to hop on to your chins. Take a deep breath in, engage your abdomen and lift your legs away from the ground.

Just remember to really pull your navel towards the ground during the whole exercise. It feels like your navel goes in towards your spine and your hips move up and away. This action is necessary to prevent your lower back from getting injured! 

Boat pose

This pose allows you to work even more on strengthening your abdominal muscles.

Find balance on your sitting bones with your feet on the ground. Invite your little one to have a seat in the boat aka on top of your hips. Take a deep breath in, pull your navel in and lift your legs off the ground. Have your spine straight (your head pulls up) and your chins parallel to the floor.  Take a couple of deep breaths while keeping your core engaged, exhale and slowly release.

Savasana

Best pose ever. And on busy days this is often all we do. Maya still loves to lay on my chest, her heartbeat against mine. It instantly calms her down when she feels fuzzy or overly tired. And in this moment I am not sure who is enjoying it more.  

 

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