Yoga with toddlers – ideas for adventuring together
Is it even humanly possible to do yoga if your toddler wants to join in? Enjoy Emmi’s hard-won tips for yoga with toddlers. That’s her and Squidge in the pic below…
This is only fun for your toddler
Yoga has never been a big part of my life. Until fairly recently, that is – when I realised I’m not getting any younger, and complaining of backache at the age of twenty-four doesn’t bode well for my life in my fifties. Now I hit the mat as often as I can.
I also have a two year old son who sees mama in chatarunga as an opportunity to play with his toy cars on a new road surface. So what’s an aspiring yogi to do?
Disclaimer: I am not a yoga expert. Before embarking on a new yoga adventure, with or without toddler, talk to your doctor if you have any health concerns and take a class with a professional to learn the poses.
Get a routine
The secret yoga code word is ‘Namaste’
Getting a routine as a mooky parent doesn’t just mean thinking about a sequence of asanas you want to perform. If you’re inviting your tot to join in, you need to think about how and when. In our house, morning yoga is mostly for mama. I stretch myself out, but Squidge has his mat next to mine and he copies the poses when he feels like it. Sometimes this means he spends most of my routine trying to copy me, sometimes it means he’s sat on his mat looking at a picture book or driving cars around.
But we’re spending time together, and he’s now learned not to drive cars up the back of mama’s legs because she will be ready to play soon. Later in the morning is another story. This is Squidge yoga time. We do poses more suited for him and his little legs. After his bedtime, I do my pre-bed yoga alone, so I’m not spending all my time on the mat worrying about where he is going whilst I’m not looking.
Now get your asanas in order
If you’ve been doing yoga for a while, you probably already have a sequence you like to fall back on. If not, there are plenty online. You can search ‘yoga sequence’ or more specific terms like ‘yoga morning sequence for children’. Just make sure you are familiar with the asanas and practicing in a safe manner if you’re at home, especially if you’re doing it with a child.
For Squidge-time yoga, we like to hit youtube up for videos especially for kids. Cosmic Kids is wonderful, combining yoga poses that are simple and safe for children with a story or dancing. I’ve been known to check out the Star Wars or Frozen themed sequences when he isn’t there, just for fun.
You know what your limits are, but if you’ve never exercised with a small child you need to learn what they need. Squidge, for example, can’t sit cross legged yet so I encourage him to sit however he feels comfortable. Small children are also much more flexible than the average adult. Squidge can drop into a forward fold bend like it’s nothing: in fact, he finds it funny that mama cannot and laughs at me with his little upside-down face.
Seek out the experts
Stretching at home is alright, but if your child is really interested in yoga, look for classes. Lots of places have parent and child sessions, or kid’s classes, so look at what is available in your area. If you already have a favourite yoga instructor, ask them if they have any suggestions. They’ll probably be happy to offer whatever advice they can.
We do our morning yoga in our pyjamas, because who wants to dress twice in a morning with a small child? You might want to get yourself some swanky yoga pants and a t-shirt with some comedy slogan on it, but for your child you just want to focus on their ability to move and not get too hot or cold. Kids grow way too fast to buy dedicated yoga wear.
Something you will need is a yoga mat each. When we started, Squidge would try and copy me on our carpeted floor. Friction burn isn’t fun for you or your tot. Now he has his own mat. He has a cheap thicker foam mat (you can see my tips on doing broke yoga here). The foam mat is grippy enough for him and I think it’s better for his little joints: and more fun as he can also jump on it when we’re finished) and we cut it down for him so he can pull it out himself without the unwieldiness of an adult sized mat. You could also let your tot customise their own mat with markers (make sure they’re non-transferable, otherwise you will have ink on sweaty little hands and feet) to make it special for them.
As well as comfortable clothes and a mat, you will both want a water bottle nearby. You can use any bottle or cup your child has and is used to, just make sure they know they can take a sip when they feel thirsty.
Your yoga routine isn’t about getting into a perfect pose or looking pinterest-worthy. It’s about spending some time with your child in a way that encourages you both to be healthy and happy. So if you fall out of an asana laughing your yoga socks off, that’s just fine. Have fun!