Should Kids Practice Yoga?

by | Read time: 3 minutes

Adults aren’t the only ones who can reap the rewards of yoga. Kids can too.

Yoga teaches concentration, balance and body awareness. It also builds confidence. Those aren’t age-specific benefits. In fact, if we learn them early, they’re embedded in our systems by the time we’re adults.

Little Girl Practicing Yoga in the Park |

“We hear it time and time again that children are much calmer and happier after being enriched by our program,” says Grace Ratchford of Balance Studios, in Chattanooga, Tenn., which focuses on teaching children yoga. “They tend to have more patience in the classroom and at home.”

Fun is key to kids yoga, and summer is a terrific time of year to let loose. The bonus for adults is that doing yoga with children makes us lighthearted.

Keep in mind that kids generally have shorter attention spans and more energy than most adults.

That means an hour-long practice, typical for yoga sessions, might be too long. Ten to 15 minutes is a good start.

“Learning to sit and listen is always a challenge at first,” Ratchford says.

Kids also need coaxing and entertaining. Weaving stories around poses works well. Don’t fret: You need not be a yoga sage in order to narrate. Luckily poses, or asanas, are often named after animals, plants or objects, and most adults are deft at spinning yarns about cats and trees. Or you can make up names for poses, and all that takes is imagination.

If you already practice yoga, do it alongside a wee one, who can imitate your movements.

If you don’t have a practice, or want something fresh, here’s a good place to start.

Keep in mind…

Yoga with a child varies somewhat depending on age. It generally needs to be more entertaining for a 5-year-old than a 15-year-old. Consider these guidelines as ideal for 5- to 10-year-olds.

If your child is on the younger side, you can instruct them to follow with Simon Says (or insert another subject—whatever works).

First, get the jitters out

No child can pay attention or hold still if they’re wired. So start with a few deep breaths while standing, moving the arms up and down—up for inhales, down for exhales. Incorporate bending the knees. Take up to 10 rounds.

Sprinkler Twist

Standing, drop the arms alongside the torso and let them hang limply. Tell the youngster to act like their arms have fallen asleep and they can’t control them. Then twist from side to side letting the arms follow. Take up to 10 rounds.

Benefit: Gets out remaining wiggles. Warms up the back. Loosens shoulders.


From standing, open the arms a little. Pick a leg to stand on. Slowly tilt forward as the other leg rises behind. If you lose balance, gain courage by thinking of the flamingo’s skinny legs and how well one can hold up the bird. What’s the secret? Suggest focusing on a point ahead. Take 5 breaths, and then switch legs.

Benefit: Teaches concentration, mind-body coordination and balance. Strengthens almost all major muscles groups.


Lie on the belly, forehead down and legs straight back. Place the hands, palms down, under the shoulders. Press the hands down, and lift the head, shoulders and upper back on an inhale. Hiss to exhale and lower. Take 5 rounds.

Benefit: Stretches front-side body. Strengthens arms and back. Coordinates breath and movement.

Downward Dog

Lift to hands and knees. Press down through the hands and raise the hips trying to create an upside-down V shape. You’ll find lots of giggles referring to the hips by other names—tush, for one. Talk about the alphabet or words that start with V. Or take a less academic route and talk about dogs. Try lifting one leg at a time, and have fun like a puppy would. Stay for as long as you’d like.

Benefit: Stretches back-side body. Strengthens arms and legs. Teaches playfulness and body awareness (is your little friend really creating an inverted V shape?).

Learn more about yoga instructor and journalist Mitra Malek at