Yoga, if practiced regularly, can help increase attention, sharpen focus, build self-confidence, boost mood, and more. So, ground your kids (and yourself!) with these smart moves to shed back-to-school jitters and school-year stress. All you need is comfy clothes and a couple of yoga mats, but a living-room rug will work just fine if you don’t have mats. The poses are appropriate for school-age kids, as well as Mom and Dad!
1. Challenge: Test anxiety
The Pose: Belly Breaths
How to do it: Sit in a chair or cross-legged on the floor. Place hands on belly and inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Feel the belly expand when you breathe in, deflate when you breathe out. Repeat 10 times.
Kid-friendly twist: Repeat a mantra, or affirmation, as you breathe. For example, say to yourself, “I am” as you inhale and “strong,” “calm,” “smart,” etc. as you exhale.
2. Challenge: “Tech neck” and rounded shoulders from sitting hunched over a desk
The Pose: Down Doggie
How to do it: Start on all fours, hands directly under shoulders and knees under the hips. Press palms into the floor and lift hips up in the air so body forms an upside-down “V.” Keep head down and look at belly button to relax the neck. Inhale, and then exhale, three to five times, and then return to all fours—your starting position. This pose also stretches the spine and the back of the legs, which get tight from sitting too long.
Kid-friendly twist: Pretend to be a doggie and “wag” your tail.
3. Challenge: Wandering thoughts
The Pose: Tree
How to do it: Stand up straight, feet hip width apart. With hands on hips, balance on the right leg, while the sole of the left foot rests on the inside of the ankle, calf, or thigh of the right leg; left leg is bent at the knee. Balance for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Kid-friendly twist: Branch out by raising arms overhead, and sway side to side. (Trees sway in the wind, and bend so they don’t break.)
4. Challenge: Self-doubt
The Pose: Warrior
How to do it: Stand with feet about a leg’s distance apart. Turn your right foot so it faces to the right and bend the right knee. The left leg stays straight. Extend arms out at shoulder height and look over the right hand. Hold for three to five deep breaths. Switch sides.
Kid-friendly twist: Feel your legs grounding you and keeping you stable while the length of your arms reach outward into the world.
5. Challenge: Fear of failing
The Pose: Airplane
How to do it: Stand tall with hands on hips. Balance on the right foot and bring your left knee to your chest. Then, extend your left leg behind you as you lean your upper body forward. Arms can stretch out to the sides.
Kid-friendly twist: Wobbling is OK. Eventually, you will learn to stay the course and navigate through the turbulence so you can let yourself soar.
6. Challenge: Feeling overwhelmed
The Pose: Child’s Pose
How to do: Start on all fours, sit back on your heels, and bring your forehead to the floor. The arms can rest alongside the body or extend forward. Take five deep breaths.
Kid-friendly twist: As you breathe, feel your back expand. Focusing on your breath will help it slow down and signal your nervous system to slow down and relax as well.
7. Challenge: Tired and wired
The pose: Happy Baby
How to do it: Lie on your back. Hug knees into chest. Grab the soles of your feet and gently begin to draw the knees toward your armpits. If you can’t reach the soles of the feet, hold a scarf or a tie, one hand on each end, and loop it around the arches of the feet.
Kid-friendly twist: Slowly rock from side to side to gently massage and stretch the spine. This pose helps to relieve stress and fatigue so you can, well, sleep like a baby.