Enjoy the Benefits of Yoga For Kids with a Homeschool Yoga Practice
In nearly every Montessori classroom, you’ll find children participating in yoga. The entire class may take part at once. Or, a station may be set up with pose cards for the children to follow along with. Teachers get in on the practice as well.
If you think about it, these two go excellently together. Both approaches flow with a certain, never forced, order. Both are known for their ability to bring calm, focus, and joy. Yoga for kids (and adults) can bring about remarkable benefits. When combined with Montessori education, you’ve got a winning combination! Beginning a homeschool yoga practice is easy, even if you’re not using a Montessori-based homeschool.
How to Get Started With Homeschool Yoga
How Yoga and Montessori Go Hand-in-Hand
A Montessori education is unlike anything else. Yoga is a form of movement unlike anything else. While Maria Montessori did not teach it, she did encourage purposeful movement. We find movement with care, grace, mindfulness, and awareness incorporated into everything she taught. Children in a Montessori setting move unlike children in any other education approach. This integrates perfectly with yoga!
Personal space and order are valued in both as well. In yoga, we have our mat. In Montessori, we have our work mat. These don’t exist because we’re trying to separate ourselves. They exist for order, visual-spatial balance, space to focus, and more. Sometimes we may do “partner poses” or work on lessons together. This only happens when both individuals are ready and willing.
“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking: it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to times in which they live.”
Both are focused on developing the whole person. With our education, we develop the whole person in mind, body, and soul. Yoga for kids does the same. It isn’t about hitting the perfect pose and movement. It’s about moving with ease, with grace, and with awareness. Sounds a lot like Montessori speak, doesn’t it? While these are components of yoga, it’s about so much more. It has been proven to have profound effects on the nervous system, stress levels, brain development, critical thinking, organ health, and more. Montessori education has shown to benefit many of these aspects as well. In both, we find a calming and centering effect for children. When used together, you bring an entirely new dimension to your homeschool.
Regular practice is often described as bringing peace. This was a key desire for Dr. Montessori. To help children find peace. Not only in the world, but in themselves. Peace with who they are. Peace in managing stress. Handling conflict with peace. You’ll even find a “peace object” in most classrooms. (These are excellent to have at home too!)
A decade ago, yoga resources for children were few and far between. Today you can find books, videos, cards, and classes. There’s a wealth of resources! It can be hard to decide what to start with. Here are a few things to consider. You may choose to find a class to attend on a regular basis, Mommy and Me classes are common at a lot of libraries and rec centers. Or learn yourself with an at-home practice to teach to your children. Pre-made lesson plans are a great option to learn together. Children can lead themselves with videos, making it easy to ensure they’re moving through the poses properly. Cards or a book can be nice to leave out on the shelf for children to get to whenever they want.
When beginning homeschool yoga, begin with basic poses. If you decide to get a children’s program, they’ll all begin with more basic postures. If you decide to work through poses on your own, begin with the foundation. Throughout the practice, it’s beneficial to make sure kids are working through the poses properly. It can be possible to hurt yourself if hitting a more advanced pose improperly. By starting with a foundation we allow our children the chance to get a feel for the flow and the calm before starting more difficult poses.
Don’t forget about trying some of the breathing exercises as well. Children of all ages love lions breath. Alternative nostril breathing is usually a favorite for teens. While a mat is not 100% necessary, it can be helpful. If you don’t have a mat, try a towel on top of the carpet.
Great poses to start with include:
- Cobblers pose
- Downward facing dog
- Shoulder rolls
- Child’s pose
- Runner’s lunge
- Hero pose
- Neck circles
- Forward bend (seated and standing)
- Standing spin
- Leg’s up to the wall
- Warrior I and II
- Sun salutations are a nice beginner sequence
Shavasana (aka “resting pose”) - this is typically how practice is ended
Whatever you do, remember to do it with ease, joy, and a spirit of learning. It is also a good idea to check with your child’s doctor before beginning practice.
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Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.