“Being outdoors and imitating the things we see in nature is a form of connecting to your natural surroundings,” says Susan Verde, mindful parenting expert, kids’ yoga instructor and the author of I Am Yoga.
“The opportunity for kids to breathe in real, fresh air — far away from electronic stimulation and in the confines of a classroom — helps with whatever you’re doing,” says Verde. “The expansive sky and sun are particularly energizing, nurturing, and support everything that yoga is about.”
Whether you situate in a small urban garden or sweeping backyard lawn in the ‘burbs, you need not travel far to find a cozy spot.
“Explore what’s there,” says Verde. “It’s a chance to look around and see what you really have. This can be a nice way to cultivate gratitude.”
Venturing to a neighborhood park offers a chance to bring awareness to what it means to be a part of a community, says the author.
“Kids can appreciate this location where a community can gather and do things that they enjoy — and it doesn’t cost anything,” says Verde. “Children can participate in keeping it clean, taking care of it, and developing a sense of responsibility — a stake.”
With the warmer months upon us, the beach can be a calming, meditative place, too. “Listening to the ebb and flow of water simulates the coming and going of our thoughts,” says Verde. The seashore’s soft, supportive landscape is ideal for working on more challenging postures, according to the yoga expert, “Sand is the perfect place to practice handstand."
Seashell collecting can be another mindful activity here.
“No two are the same. Kids can reflect on their own individuality, that of a beautiful shell, and whatever it is that makes it special to them,” says Verde.
For educators, getting kids in to the school yard is beneficial for all involved.
“It’s great to stretch your legs and move,” says Verde. At the end of the year especially, there’s added stress, as you build towards graduation. “Group poses like garden flowers or tree forest are fun and can connect you as a class. Outside, there’s more room to support each other.”
Over all, the power of oneness resonates easily out of doors, which can be comforting to a child.
“Connection to the world—one that’s bigger than your four walls—you feel it when you’re outside. It’s an important tool to help kids feel that they’re not alone. Whatever struggles you have or issues you find overwhelming, you’re a part of something incredibly big and beautiful. You have a unique place and it’s an important one.”
Try these Kid-Friendly Yoga Poses for Spring!
Tree Pose (vrkasana):
Begin in Mountain Pose. From your mountain, lift your arms and reach out to either side, like the branches of a tree, to help you balance. Lift one foot, turning your knee out to the side, and place your foot either below the knee of the standing leg or above it. Breathing slowly in and out, bring your arms up over your head and imagine yourself growing like a tree. Slowly lower your hands to your chest, place your foot down, and repeat on the other side.
Airplane Pose (virabhadrasana III):
Begin in Mountain Pose. Reach your arms out to either side. Breathe in. Upon breathing out, lean forward and lift and extend one leg behind you. Hold the pose for a few breaths. Lower the lifted leg and repeat on the other side.
Sit on the ground and bring the soles of your feet together. Dive your hands in between your knees and out and under your legs. Lift your feet off the ground, knees pointing out to the side, and balance in your flower. Your feet will most likely separate in the air. Breathe in and out slowly. What kind of flower are you?
Relaxation Pose (savasana):
Lie down on your back with your legs straight and your arms by your sides, palms facing up. Let your legs separate naturally and your feet flop out to the side. Try not to talk or look around. If you are comfortable, close your eyes. Let every part of your body relax and sink into the ground and be supported by the earth underneath you.