Grab your kiddos for this sequence from yoga teacher to the stars and author Alanna Zabel’s latest children’s book, Asana’s First Yoga Class.
“I’ve been teaching yoga camps for kids for 12 years,” says Zabel, the author of several children’s books, including The Seven Doors, a kid-friendly version of Deepak Chopra’s best-seller, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. “I have kids who were in my camps who are on their way to college…every single one of them is still practicing yoga, and they are such joyous, happy people. If you instill yoga in a child, I’ve found that they’re just more grounded, less [prone to] addiction, happier, more accepting of themselves.”
Zabel’s latest book for kids, Asana’s First Yoga Class, focuses on Asana, a young girl who is teaching her first yoga class to friends who have traveled from all over the world to be there. Asana teaches animal- and nature-inspired poses like Cobra and Grasshopper (Chaturanga) to her friends and their pets.
Zabel is also planning future books about all eight characters in Asana’s First Yoga Class, based on the eight limbs of yoga, along with corresponding dolls. “I wanted to teach the philosophy of yoga, not just the poses,” she explains. Bonus: 10 percent of the proceeds from sales of the book benefit The Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Kids as young as preschool age will love meeting Asana (and her dog, Sukha), as she teaches class outside on her deck overlooking the Santa Monica mountains, and practicing the following 6 poses.
See also Getting Children Started with Yoga
6 Poses to Practice with Children
1. Chair Pose
From a standing position, bend your knees as if you were sitting in a chair. Reach your arms toward the ceiling, with your palms facing each other.
BENEFITS Chair Pose builds strength in the legs, shoulders, and core while also strengthening the ankles, knees, and hips.
2. Royal Dancer (Lord of the Dance)
From a standing position, shift your weight to your right foot while reaching back to find the inside of your left ankle with your left hand. Keeping your body facing front, begin lifting the left foot and leg while extending your right arm straight forward, until you find a standing backbend. Repeat on the other side.
BENEFITS Royal Dancer pose helps to develop concentration, balance, and focus. It also opens the chest while strengthening the legs. This pose can also be practiced while holding on to a wall or chair until balance is more steady.
See also Getting Children Started with Yoga
3. Tree Pose
From standing, lift your right foot, turning your right knee away from your body. Place this foot above or below your left knee, depending on your comfort level. Reach your hands to the sky or ceiling while holding for 5–8 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
BENEFITS Tree Pose improves overall balance and stability in the legs while also building self-confidence.
4. Plow Pose
Lie down on the floor while hugging your knees into your chest. Bring your arms along your sides, with your palms pressing down into the floor. Exhale and reach your legs over your head, until your toes are close to the ground behind your head. You should look as though you are in a seated Forward Bend — only upside down.
BENEFITS Plow Pose is a fantastic stretch for the entire backside, including the hamstrings. Reminder: Never turn your head to the side in this pose — always look straight up.
5. Candle (Shoulderstand)
From Plow, place your hands flat on your back. As you advance in this pose, your legs will be straighter, stretching your hamstrings. This will create an eventual 90-degree angle in your neck with your legs straight up toward the ceiling or sky.
BENEFITS Candle increases circulation to the brain, improves lymphatic drainage, and tones the legs and abdomen.
6. Bliss Pose
Lie down on your back, with arms next to your body and legs straight out on the floor. Close your eyes while focusing on deep breathing and full body relaxation. Try to relax for 5–10 minutes.
BENEFITS This is a great pose for guided visualization. Savasana incorporates all of the relaxing benefits of all the body’s systems: skeletal, muscular, cardiorespiratory, digestive, immune, and more. With our children running from activity to activity all day long, it is incredibly beneficial for them to learn how to relax in a happy and healthy way.
See also How to Get Your Kids to Love Yoga