Kid-Friendly Yoga Poses To Help Your Child Avoid A Meltdown




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Maybe it’s a refusal to put on a hat, maybe it’s wanting to get out of the car, or not get out of the car — whatever the trigger (and it can be anything, can’t it?) we all know the moment when our child is careening toward a full-on meltdown.

And at that point, the difficulty in processing whatever has happened has moved from a mental reaction to a physical one. The overwhelming feelings that the child is experiencing are now manifesting as physical sensations and stress. Therefore, addressing these physical reactions in the body with some yoga is a great place to start!

Here are five kid-friendly yoga poses to help support in those seemingly impossible moments:

First and foremost, ask your child to take a deep breath. This can be a great way to help create a moment of pause to help release tension. Breathing with your child can be even more effective, especially when it is also fun.

“Bee’s Breath” is a wonderful way to facilitate this.

Sit on your knees — inhale and get very long through your spine with your arms back. Exhale and lower your forehead toward the ground as you buzz like a bee all the way down.


Cat Pose

Teach your child that moving a muscle can help change the way they’re feeling. It’s hard to find solutions when everything feels tight! Let your child know that when they feel frustration, stress, or anger, that it can be helpful to try Cat Pose.

Inhale and look up, letting your spine drop low. Exhale and tuck your chin, lifting your spine up high like a cat.



Cloud Pose

Deciding in that moment to take what is bothering us most and “let it go,” can feel very empowering for a child who has reached a level of total powerlessness.

“Cloud Pose” can be used as a way to scoop up all this (invisible) frustration in front of both you and your child, and just send it up and away and over your heads. It can also be a great way to encourage kids to name what is feeling so difficult, without having to solve it yet. Whatever it is, the two of you can name it, scoop it up and release it.

Inhale and bend your knees, and “scoop” the invisible clouds in front of you. Exhale and straighten your legs, lifting your arms above your head.


Tree Pose


All of these exercises are about giving your child more options in a moment when she or he feels like there are none (other than a complete meltdown).

You can suggest a shift of focus and a balancing pose to help balance all the different emotions you know your child is feeling. Balancing poses help shift our focus out of our heads and back into our bodies, which has a stabilizing effect.

The stillness and concentration required in Tree Pose brings rest to a frustrated mind.

Standing up, become long and tall in your spine. Rest one foot on your ankle or above your knee and balance. Your hands can be palm-to-palm at your chest or in the air like branches. Take a few breaths, then switch feet.



Child’s Pose

It can be so helpful in stressful moments to give your child ways to self-soothe. In a yoga class, the pose used to “take a rest” is Child’s Pose. This restorative pose allows for a child to curl up and is a great stretch also for the lower back, hips and thighs. It also has a wonderful calming effect on the central nervous system.

This moment of coming into a comforting position can help a child get a much needed moment to self-soothe and re-group.

Begin on your hands and knees. Press back to sit on your heels and bring your chest to rest on top of your thighs. Your arms can be stretched out in front of you or tucked in by your sides. Breathe deeply and rest.



Adapted from Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story, by Mariam Gates. Illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder.


Then, it’s bed time.

The kids are squabbling over bath toys, toothpaste, or nothing at all. Or they’re giddy—stuffed animals and giggles flying around the bedroom. Either scenario, you pine for family bonding, serenity and, sleep. “Sometimes your first impulse is to fight against what’s happening. You know, ‘Everybody, settle down!’ Sure there’s time that is your role,” says Mariam Gates, author of Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story. “This book says let’s take that energy and in a very short amount of time, learning how to use the body as a tool, we can settle.”

Presto! Your little one’s eyelids are smooth as silk, as she snuggles her teddy beneath the covers. Along the way, you share your love for yoga and teach your children to feel what’s happening inside their bodies. Good Night Yoga takes you all on a story of settling ladybugs, sparkling stars, and a little blue cat who lives in the moon. Each step of the journey into night has its own pose and breathing exercise that make up a pre-bedtime yoga sequence for kids in early to middle childhood.

“What we’re looking for is a reset button for families,” says Gates, who founded Kid Power Yoga and holds a master’s in education from Harvard University. “We have to teach our kids it’s okay to be disappointed. It’s okay to be sad, angry, happy, proud, excited. All of that is part of this human existence. But we need to be able, at the end of each day, with all those swirling experiences and emotions, to understand that we get to reset.”

In a world where children’s calendars are packed with painting, soccer, girl scouts, and jiu-jitsu, Gates believes it’s vital they learn to let it all go at the end of the day. With Good Night Yoga, kids self-soothe by taking long breaths in and long breaths out, the easiest way to calm the nervous system, Gates says. The book also shows four- to eight-year-olds that they can move their bodies intentionally to release pent-up stress. It includes 11 poses plus a cloud visualization meditation. But, lucky us, Gates and two young yogis are demonstrating the sequence here, just for Yoga Journal. So tonight, roll out your sticky mats or simply spread out on the bedroom carpet. Your children will salute you with the gentle rise and fall of their bellies as they drift into dreams.


Sun breath



Lengthening the breath moves us from fight-or-flight to rest-and-renew state, soothing and preparing us for restful sleep.

HOW TO INSTRUCT KIDS Inhale your arms over your head. Exhale your arms back down.


Cloud Gathering

Slow deliberate movement calms the central nervous system and communicates a sense of safety to the mind and body.

HOW TO INSTRUCT KIDS Inhale and bend your knees. Exhale and straighten your legs, lifting your arms above your head.
AFFIRMATION I am strong.


Five-Pointed Star Pose

This pose lengthens and opens the body including the chest, improving circulation and breathing for more restful sleep.

HOW TO INSTRUCT KIDS Press down through your feet. Reach your arms wide.

Sidebending Mountain Pose

This pose opens the connective tissue of the side body which facilitates ease in breathing.

HOW TO INSTRUCT KIDS Inhale and lengthen your spine. Exhale and bend to one side. Inhale to come up and exhale to the other side.
AFFIRMATION I am peaceful.


Bird Pose

A distracted mind is tiring. Balancing poses require concentration, which is actually restful for the mind.

HOW TO INSTRUCT KIDS Focus on one point. Lift your foot behind you and balance. Then switch feet.
AFFIRMATION I am graceful.


Ladybug Pose

This pose opens the hip flexors for a more comfortable night’s rest.

HOW TO INSTRUCT KIDS Bend your knees, roll your shoulders back, and press your palms together.


Butterfly Pose

This pose improves flexibility in the hips for a more restful night’s sleep.

HOW TO INSTRUCT KIDS Sit on the ground, press the soles of your feet together, and roll your shoulders back.


Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Finish the practice with this calming pose, known to reduce insomnia and stress.

HOW TO INSTRUCT KIDS Lie on your back and take slow natural breaths. Close your eyes if you wish.
AFFIRMATION I am at home (Or, I am at home, in my body, in my breath, in my life, in this moment).