It’s bedtime. Somehow you’ve managed to wrangle the kids into pajamas and get teeth brushed. You’re exhausted, but the kids aren’t showing signs of slowing down. Reading a story will put you right to sleep, but not them. Sound familiar? Here’s an idea to approach the routine a bit differently, while maintaining that time together: bedtime yoga.
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Years ago I took a few nighttime yoga classes—for adults—at our local yoga studio, and it seemed like it would be easy to adapt for kids and parents (or caregivers) to relax together while reaping the health benefits. It’s well-known that breathing and stretching can relieve daily stress for grown-ups, and these techniques can also help kids calm down in preparation for sleep. Especially in this challenging time when many of us are working from home and the children are not in school, we could all use some calm. Even if you only have time for five minutes. Bonus: you don’t need special equipment and you can do it in your jammies!
If you have yoga or exercise mats, great. If not, you can do it on bare carpet or spread out a couple of towels and pillows on hard floors. Gather on the floor next to the bed or wherever there’s space. Dim the lights or light a candle to create a calm atmosphere. You can follow a video or audio narration (there are plenty of free videos and apps, with choices for various age groups), or make up your own routine. If time is short, you might choose to do just a breathing exercise. Take turns being the teacher; let the kids lead a breath count or call out poses as they become familiar with the practice.
When you’re finished and it’s time to get in bed, sprinkle a drop of lavender essential oil on the pillow, or rub some on your palms as you tuck in the kids. The soothing scent, recognized for its calming properties, imparts an extra special send-off to snoozey-land.
Ideas to get started:
Cosmic Kids Tommy the Bedtime Turtle: Cosmic Kids Yoga hosts a series of online yoga videos that tell stories along with narrated yoga routines. For ages three and up.
PJ Yoga from Cheeky Yogi: Easy-to-follow instructions and beginner poses for a short and relaxing nighttime routine.
Good Night Yoga: A Pose by Pose Bedtime Story Read Aloud: This interactive book by educator Mariam Gates encourages movement along with the story. Watch, listen and move with KidsTimeStoryTime or purchase your own copy to read at bedtime.
Gaiam’s Bedtime Yoga for Kids: Yawning Yoga author Laurie Jordan’s blog post, on yoga lifestyle Gaiam’s website, shares a few simple poses to add to the kids’ nighttime routine. Try the silly-sounding, interactive Spaghetti Test. The book details a complete list of 15 sleep-inducing poses in order from most active to wind-down.
Fablefy Breathing Midnfulness for Educators, Parents/Children/Adults: Ten minutes of simple breathing exercises geared toward young children but great for all ages.
Moovlee Toddler Yoga Nighttime Routine: Short and sweet, just for littles, with a cute monkey friend illustrating the poses. Lights out at the end.