Yoga before bedtime is a miracle in our household!
When our spirited and active preschooler is tired, she doesn’t get lethargic — she gets wired. When she needs an extra dose of calming potion, we practice yoga poses to help release her pent-up energy. It works like a charm. Afterward, my daughter is better able to listen to her bedtime books and willingly hops into bed. Reading and acting out a bedtime yoga book is also a great way for us to bond and breathe together, calming both of us down.
A child’s healthy sleep habits mean less stress at bedtime for everyone, and parents get to sleep through the night, too. Yoga before bedtime is good for the whole family.
To add yoga to your nightly bedtime ritual, start by creating a calm environment. Clean up the space so that there are fewer distractions. Play soothing music, dim the lights, and speak in a calming voice. This helps children relax their minds and bodies.
The five animal yoga poses for kids in this bedtime yoga sequence have especially calming effects. Feel free to add other animals to your family yoga experience, but try to avoid stimulating poses like backbends and warrior poses at bedtime.
Some calming poses include forward bends, restorative poses, gentle twists, and simple inversions. Keep the poses in the sequence linked closely by grouping the standing poses together, and then the seated poses together.
Have you already added yoga to your child’s bedtime ritual? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Bring attention to your child’s breath as you go through the animal yoga poses, but let the exploration of mindful breathing happen naturally.
Encourage your child’s imagination and follow their energy and interests. Focus on having fun with movement, not on performing perfectly aligned poses.
Stand tall in Mountain Pose and then wrap one leg around the other. Bring your bent arms out in front of you, wrap your arms together the opposite of your legs, and slightly bend your knees. Pretend to perch in a tree like a bald eagle.
Repeat the steps, putting the opposite legs and arms in front this time.
Downward Facing Sheepdog
Bend forward at your hips and place your palms flat on the ground. Step back to put space between your hands and feet, with your buttocks up in the air, and stretch like a sheepdog, just like you would in Downward Facing Dog.
Shift forward to an all-fours position, round your back, and tuck your chin into your chest to come to Cat Pose. Pretend to be an African lion. You could add a Lion’s Breath here.
Come to sit on your buttocks with a tall spine, bend your legs, place the soles of your feet together, and gently flap your legs like the wings of a monarch butterfly.
Sea Turtle Pose
Sit back on your heels, slowly bring your forehead down to rest on the floor in front of your knees, and reach your arms out in front of you. Place the palms of your hands flat on the floor for Child's Pose.
Take a few deep breaths. Pretend to be a sea turtle.
Finish your bedtime yoga sequence by lying on your back with your arms and legs stretched out in a Resting Pose. Take a few deep breaths and relax.
My daughter and I usually hold hands as we lie next to each other. Or she lies on top of me, rising and falling with my breath. The experience is truly magical.
Excerpted from Good Night, Animal World, a Kids Yoga Bedtime Story, by Giselle Shardlow. Illustrations by Emily Gedzyk, Kids Yoga Stories. Recommended for toddlers and preschoolers (ages 2-to-5).