9 Yoga Poses You Can Do With Your Kids
Quality workout time
When shuttling your kids to and from school, flute lessons, soccer practice, and play dates crimps your workout style, here's an idea: exercise with your kids. You'll squeeze in that sweat session you've been missing, and also demonstrate to your child how important (and fun) it is to exercise. Celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor Kristin McGee says yoga is the perfect activity to help your whole family de-stress, stay active, and keep your minds and bodies healthy. Here, McGee takes guides you through nine poses you can do with your little ones.
"I love doing cat/cow pose with kids to warm up their spines and strengthen their tummies," McGee says. "If you have younger kids, break the ice by making cow and cat sounds with them in each position."
How to do it: Start on all fours. Inhale to lift your head and tail at the same time; then exhale to tuck under your tail and round your head in to your chest. In cow pose, make sure you drop your belly and chest towards the floor. In cat, use your abdominals to round your back towards the ceiling as much as you can. Arch and round the spine 8 to 10 times.
"Triangle is a great standing posture for stretching the sides and waist, along with strengthening the legs," says McGee. "Keep it extra fun and lively for your kids by striking this pose in between jumping jacks."
How to do it: After every 3 jumping jacks, hop your feet open. Turn your right toes out and left toes slightly in. Then bend to the side and place your right hand on your right shin as you look up at your left hand. Come up to stand, do 3 more jumps, then hop open to triangle on the left side. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.
"Tree helps kids (and you) learn how to find focus and balance," McGee says.
How to do it: Start with both feet firmly planted in a standing positin. Place your right foot on your inner left thigh and turn the knee out to the side. Bring your hands together in prayer at your chest and pick a spot on the floor to focus on. Hold for 5-8 breaths, then try the other side. To test your balance, try floating your branches (arms) upwards.
"Squats are a go-to move for building strength in the thighs and abdominals," McGee says. "Plus, this pose helps alleviate all that stress on the back and shoulders caused by carrying heavy backpacks and bags."
How to do it: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip width apart. Bend your knees as you lower your torso down between them. Place your hands in prayer at your chest and use your elbows to gently press your knees open to the sides. Stay lifted out of your back and breathe deeply 5 to 8 breaths.
Boat poses are a fun way to strengthen the lower belly while stretching the shoulders, legs, and back of the arms. Doing partner boat together helps keep your kids entertained and teaches them all about cooperation.
How to do it: Sit up tall with your knees bent and your feet on the ground, facing your partner. Then lean back and engage your core and lift your feet so that your shins are parallel to the floor. Press the soles of your feet against your partner's, hold hands, and work on balancing each other. Hold this pose for a few breaths.
"Another great cooperative pose, partner gate can help you and your kids learn to make connections and lean one each other for support," says McGee. "Gate also stretches the shoulders, waist and back—all of which get sore from carrying heavy backpacks or sitting at a desk all day."
How to do it: Start on your knees, about a leg’s length apart from each other. Each of you should step your opposite leg out to the side towards each other and line up your feet in the same area. Lift your outside arm and lean to the side until you can grab each other’s hands. Hold for one breath, then come back to your knees. Repeat on the other side.
"Table top not only strengthens your arms and legs, but also stretches out the front of the body—an area that often rounds forward and slumps during activities like playing video games or sitting at a desk," explains McGee.
How to do it: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Place your hands about 10 inches behind you with your fingers facing your hips. Press into your hands and feet, lifting your body up to form a table.
"Incline plank is the perfect pose to strengthen wrists for daily writing or typing tasks," McGee says. "It also opens the chest, which is crucial for countering the negative effects of desk-slouching—for both kids and adults."
How to do it: Start in a similar position to table top, with your hands 10 inches behind the body. But instead of bending your knees, keep your legs extended out in front of you and press your hips up, stretching the entire front of your body. During this move, it helps to pretend your body is a slide: Imagine a marble rolling from your neck to your toes in order to optimally open your chest and strengthen your arms.
"Camel is yet another pose that helps open up the chest and remedy slouched shoulders," says McGee. "Plus, it promotes better breathing, which helps you and your kids de-stress and unwind."
How to do it: Come to a kneeling position and tuck your toes. Place your hands on your lower back as you lift your chest up to the ceiling and arch your upper body backwards. For a deeper stretch, you can reach for your heels. Be sure to breathe into this pose and feel how it opens up your heart.