Goodnight Yoga for Kids

Written by Laurie Jordan

Sleep problems are very common among children. In fact, most kids aren't getting enough sleep at night. In 2004, The National Sleep Foundation conducted the Sleep in America Poll, the first nationwide survey on the sleep habits of children and their parents. The results showed that 69% of children, ages 10 and under, are not getting enough sleep.

When a child becomes sleep deprived, they are likely to have a hard time controlling their emotions. This can lead to potential problems at home and at school, and it can be exhausting for parents! (As if parenting isn’t hard enough, having a child with sleep problems can make your job even more difficult!) According to this same Sleep in America Poll, many parents and caregivers lose upwards of 200 hours of sleep a year due to their child’s nighttime awakenings.

This is where bedtime yoga can help!

By incorporating yoga into the bedtime routine, kids of all ages will be stretching and twisting and breathing their way into dreamland. The goal of bedtime yoga is to help a child shift his/her mind's focus from being preoccupied with daily stressors to focusing his/her attention to yoga postures, relaxation techniques and breath work, with the ultimate goal being a restful sleep.

Encourage your child to try these exercises before going to bed:

  1. Greet The Moon: This pose is designed to release extra energy. Similar to a sun salute, but the child is greeting the moon and reaching for his wishing star. 1. Child begins by standing up nice and tall. 2. Have him Stretch his arms over head. 3. Instruct him to fold over his legs in a forward fold. 4. Have them come all the the way back up to stand with arms reaching up. 5. stand tall, with hands by their side. Repeat three times.
  2. Candlestick: Modified Shoulderstand is perfect for calming the body and mind and relieving tired legs. Have child start off by lying on her back and instruct her to extend both legs up toward the ceiling. Make sure her neck is safe and encourage child to keep her eyes on her toes and avoid looking around. Kids can hold this pose for at least 5 full deep breathes.
  3. Hugs: As child moves closer to sleep, have him hug knees into chest and squeeze all the tension out of the body. Encourage him to squeeze every muscle in the body (face and toes!) and then release so the body feels nice and light and relaxed. Do one time.
  4. Spaghetti Test: Parents wiggle child's arms and legs to make sure they are nice and floppy and relaxed. Parents hold child’s feet and wiggle their legs to release any last bit of tension in their legs. Then parents hold child’s hands and wiggle their arms to encourage releasing any last bit of tension in their arms.
  5. Wishing Star: Another meditation exercise designed to prepare the mind for sleep. This exercise clears the mind from stressful thoughts and shifts the mind's focus to something positive. Instruct child to lie on back, close eyes and imagine a star.

My book, Yawning Yoga, is a bedtime yoga book designed specifically to help kids enjoy a restful sleep. It is kid tested and mother approved! It’s careful sequencing makes it perfect for bedtime and helps children establish a bedtime routine that is proven to work. 

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