This post was written for MindBodyGreen, a health and wellness online publication whose mission it is to revitalize the way people eat, move, and live. The images and yoga poses below are found in our yoga bedtime book, Good Night, Animal World and the matching Good Night, Animal Yoga Cards.
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. Even though we follow the Four B’s nightly ritual (Bath, Brush teeth, Books, and Bed), that doesn’t always calm her down from her highly stimulating day.
When she needs an extra dose of calming potion, we read Good Night, Animal World and use movement to 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.
Research shows that yoga improves sleep (Amazon affiliate link to Your Brain on Yoga eBook by Sat Bir Khalsa). So by introducing movement and mindful breathing to my daughter’s bedtime rituals through ways that engage her, I can potentially affect her health, academic performance, and emotional well-being in the long term. What more could a parent ask for?
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. The poses are also in a specific order that invites flow from one pose to the next. 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. To maintain flow when adding poses, keep the poses in the sequence linked closely by grouping the standing poses together and the seated poses together.
5 Animal Yoga Poses to Help your Child Sleep Better
Encourage your children’s imagination and follow their energy and interests. Focus on having fun with movement, not on performing perfectly aligned poses. Bring attention to your child’s breath as you go through the animal yoga poses, but let the exploration of mindful breathing happen naturally.
1. Eagle Pose – Eagle
2. Downward-Facing Dog Pose – Sheepdog
3. Cat Pose – African Lion
4. Extended Child’s Pose – Sea Turtle
5. Cobbler’s Pose – Monarch Butterfly
Images from Good Night, Animal World
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.
Have you already added yoga to your child’s bedtime ritual? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
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