Sunday, November 11, 2012

Toddler Yoga: Zen is as Zen does

Toddler Downward Dog

I went in search of kids yoga classes and found most yoga classes geared towards the younger set are either for infants (usually a "Mommy and Me" type class) or for kids in the 6-10 range.  This made me think that maybe toddlers and preschoolers didn't really have the focus or attention span for a yoga practice.  So for the last couple years (since Leo learned to crawl and attending the local baby yoga class became impossible) I had pretty much stopped practicing.
Toddler Tree Pose

Recently I've been missing it and thought I'd pull out the old mat for a few stretches.  I figured Leo could either play independently, or maaaaaybe he would even do a pose or two with me.

Breathing (and kicking)

What ended up happening surprised me.  Leo LOVED it.  He attempted every single pose and really focused on the more challenging poses (the balance ones are especially difficult for him).

Toddler Warrior Pose
Now it has become a regular part of our schedule.  It's something that is good for both of us AND we both look forward to.  I won't deny that there are times that I will be doing a pose while he is literally running circles around me - but I expected more circle running and less being quiet and centered.

Toddler Triangle Pose
Yoga makes me feel better - physically and spiritually.  The gentle stretches and strengthening exercises relieve the aches and kinks that pop up with two young kids.  Babywearing, night-time nursing contortions, and constantly bending down to meet my toddler on his level can really leave your back and neck a mess.  I feel like a new person after relieving some of that stress with an hour of yoga.

Toddler Mountain Pose
I think it's good for Leo, too.  It's active, but not hyperactive.  It keeps his energy level pretty even while still getting him to use his body in challenging ways.  The breathing techniques have been especially valuable.  He takes his "yoga breaths" any time he's feeling frustrated and always has a calmer day when we practice together.


Leo loves anything we do together - playing, coloring, cooking - and yoga is no exception.  In the mornings after breakfast he will pull our mats off the shelf asking to "do yoga together."  I'm glad he looks forward to it so much because it really feels like I'm taking time for myself.

Toddler Bridge Pose

Leo also loves to invent his own poses.  The "Jingle Bell" pose is when he skips from one end of the mat to the other over and over (and over) again.  The "Superman" is when I lift him up into the air with his chest on the soles of my feet.  I've had to put the kabash on a few poses that seemed to put him in danger - but I still try to allow him to exercise his creativity.

Superman Pose 
It's a great bonding time for the two of us that also provides some clear benefits to us both.  Soon enough Zoe will be joining us as more than a spectator.  She's already perfecting her happy baby pose.

Happy Baby Pose


  1. This is fantastic. He is such a lucky guy to be learning yoga with you. I haven't started a regular practice with my toddler yet, but when I see her in poses I call them out so she gets used to hearing the names. We're born with these amazing yoga capabilities and we spend our lives unlearning them when we should be fostering them. Namaste :)

  2. Wow!!! I think I might be a convert! What a brilliant idea!!!

  3. Our preschool has a weekly yoga class for the 3-5 year olds who no longer nap. It is very clever, games made out of yoga poses. They learn deep belly breathing and downward dog! It is a lot of fun!

  4. Oh, I think Leo needs to make a toddler how to yoga video! He is a pro and kids love to watch and mimic other kids!

  5. wonderful! i think i should try this with z. i've got to fit some exercise in my life!

  6. Havona Madama11/14/2012

    this was the same issue i had and that is when we created Tot Yoga a dvd for yoga with the crawling to 3yo set. we also created a ipad and iphone app if you are interested in more you can find info at