It’s never too early to start benefiting from the wonders of yoga. And when you’ve got a little one who struggles to get to sleep or stay in bed, yoga might just be the answer.
There are many yoga positions that encourage relaxation and a return to the body’s rest and digest response. This helps us to move away from the fight or flight response, and as a result, calm the nervous system, lower the heart rate, and make it easier to fall asleep.
As well as the physical practice of yoga, your kids can benefit from the consistent routine of practising yoga before they go to sleep. A bedtime routine can help children to understand when it’s time to go to bed, as well as helping them to relax and sleep (ideally!) through the night.
Read on to find out the best poses to try with your kids for a good night’s sleep, as well as how to practice them!
Lay with your sit bones against a wall with your legs resting on the wall and your hands relaxing on either side of your body. Close your eyes and breathe deeply here for as long as your child will stay willingly! 5 minutes is a good amount of time to aim for.
Pranayama (or controlled breathing) is wonderfully meditative without having to ask your children to “sit and think of nothing” which, undeniably, is impossible for kids!
Alternate nostril breathing: Take a deep breath in through the nose, then block the right nostril with the right thumb and exhale through the left. Inhale through the left nostril then block the left nostril with the right ring finger, followed by exhaling through the right. Take an inhale through the right and repeat for up to 5 minutes.
Belly breathing: If your children are younger or can’t quite get the hang of alternate nostril breathing, ask them to lay on their backs with their hands on the belly. Inhaling to puff up the belly and exhaling to squeeze the belly button in.
From kneeling, bring the knees out wide (as wide as the yoga mat if you’re using one!). Keep the big toes touching together and the sit bones on the heels (or a block between the feet) and walk the hands forward to bring the chest down towards the ground. You can rest your forehead on a block, a cushion, or the ground.
Lay down on your back and bring the soles of your feet to touch, knees falling out to either side. Hands can rest on the belly or either side of your body, close the eyes and relax. If you or your children would like a little more comfort or support, bring a cushion underneath each knee.
Though seemingly the most basic of the yoga poses, Corpse Pose (or Shavasana) is the most important pose there is! This pose should be practised last and is a lovely way to drift off to sleep after a short bedtime yoga practice.
Lay on your back with your legs long and feet wider than hip-distance apart. Lay the hands out to relax at either side of the body, close the eyes and relaaaaax.
Try to commit to a pre-bed yoga practice every night for 2 weeks. Once it becomes a habit and by using a combination of these restorative yoga poses, both you and your little ones can benefit from a great night of sleep every night!