Twist and Stretch: Yoga for Kids

teaching kids yoga basics can boost their breathing and strength

Katie Larson, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Kacy Bresina helps her 4-year-old son, jack, with the warrior pose.
Kacy Bresina helps her 4-year-old son, Jack, with the warrior pose.

The word “yoga” means “union” and is generally associated with bringing the mind and body together. Aside from building strength and flexibility, yoga incorporates breathing and relaxation techniques designed to release stress and negativity from our bodies and minds.

Kacy Bresina started actively practicing yoga about seven years ago and immediately saw physical and emotional benefits from it.

As she began perfecting the art of mindfulness herself, Kacy noticed her son Jack, an energetic 4-year-old, could also benefit from the union of breathing and building physical strength. She began experimenting with some of the techniques acquired through her personal practice. By slowly introducing mindfulness techniques, like breathing and relaxation techniques at bedtime, she taught Jack how to regain composure during stressful situations as well as how to wind down before bedtime. “He also enjoys working on his balancing poses, which has helped him on the ice,” Kacy said.

One year later, Kacy and Jack, enjoy sharing the art of yoga together with other families during their Twisty Tots yoga sessions held at The Center, located at 3701 E. Clairemont Ave. (Highway 12). The sessions, held every other weekend, incorporate interesting and fun yoga poses that get each parent/child partnership laughing, learning, and connecting. As a way to get started, Kacy and Jack provided several easy-to-intermediate poses that are fun and fit for just about any age group. 

Tree Pose

Let yourself be still like a tree as you work to improve focus, memory, and concentration.

1. Starting in a standing position, place your hands together and have them resting on your chest close to your heart.

2. Lift one leg (either one).

3. Rotate your foot and rest it on the inside of your other leg near your shin to form a triangle.

4. Hold the pose for about one minute, relaxing your heart by breathing in and out deeply.

5. If you lose your balance, try again. Switch sides after one minute.
For a challenge, lift your arms and hands over your head and hold steady in that position. You can also try to move your foot up the inner part of your leg by resting it on the inside of your knee or thigh.

Warrior Pose

Contrary to what the name implies, there is no fighting within this pose. Instead it is all about finding qualities a true warrior possesses: peace, inner strength, and confidence.

1. Stand horizontally (as you would on a surfboard) with your body pointed towards a wall. Place your feet shoulder width apart.

2. Point your right foot forward and angle your left foot inward. It might feel awkward, so adjust your feet if your balance seems off.

3. Gently bend your right knee, so you feel like you are leaning forward and straighten your arms out to a horizontal position.

4. Turn your shoulders and head to look over your right arm and hold the pose as you deep breathe.

For a challenge, lift your arms up to the sky and twist your torso so it is pointing in the same direction as your right knee. Switch sides after a few breath cycles.

Downward Dog

Now is your chance to stretch like your dog (or cat) after a long nap.  This pose helps with flexibility, breathing and relaxation. It is the pose that looks like an inverted “V.” 

1. In a standing position, inhale and bring your hands up to the sky.

2. As you exhale, move your body forward at the hips, placing your palms on the floor in front of you. Feel free to bend your knees if needed.

3. Standing on your tippy toes, move your legs back to create an inverted “V.”

4. As you regain your balance, slowly lower your heels to the floor. You should feel a stretch through the back of your legs and your back.

5. Relax your neck, lower your head and look between your legs.

6. Shift your hips back by pushing them towards the ceiling just like a dog would during a stretch.

7. When you feel good and stretched, take one last inhale and on the exhale drop down to a tabletop position (knees and palms on the floor).

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