Last week I connected with Chantelle Emmerton, yoga instructor who has a background in primary school teaching.
Chantelle is the founder of Mindful Munchkins and has developed gorgeous yoga cards aimed at 2-8 year olds, so that they can practice yoga and mindfulness at home and in the classroom.
Chantelle states that in her yoga classes, “the focus is not only on yoga poses but (we) spend some time talking about ways to care for our minds and bodies.”
Through the use of stories and puppets, Chantelle discusses different emotions and validates feeling states. Deep breathing techniques are practiced.
Chantelle has designed a series of 20 cards with cute instructional rhymes to help little yogis form poses safely.
What is great about these cards is that children do not need to read to understand what they need to do. There is picture in the top right corner to help children recognise the pose. For example, ‘frog pose’ has a character showing how to do frog pose with their body and also has a picture of a frog in the top right corner.
We know that visual supports are ideal for kids who have receptive communication difficulties or who benefit from additional cues. These visual cues may support kids with motor planning difficulties who find imitating others tricky. Kids can form an association between the animal form and the position.
As a former kindergarten teacher, Chantelle often used the story, Going on a Bear Hunt to augment yoga practice. As she read the story, the children would use their bodies to form poses of the obstacles across in the story.
Chantelle recommends using baskets with materials for kids to focus on their breath, including a breathing ball/Hoberman Sphere and pinwheels.
Yoga can be done anywhere and without any equipment. However, Chantelle suggests a few pieces of equipment to make it easier to engage your kids in yoga:
-A yoga mat. Cut up an adult-sized mat in half – perfect for little ones.
-Yoga cards to help children practice the yoga poses independently or use them in a game
-Scarves to wave around in poses
-Bean bags to balance on different body parts while holding poses.
I think that Covid-19 has seen our kids spend more time on the couch and on technology. We know iPad and gaming console use puts extra strain on necks and can shorten hip flexors from sitting. This can have detrimental effects on posture, running and even cause headaches.
To encourage children to get involved in yoga, Chantelle says it needs to be fun! Children love games and stories, so use these techniques to get them moving. She suggests a game of musical yoga statues. She also recommends dancing around with a scarf while on the move.
You may need to physically guide your child into these following positions. Consider counting from 5 to 1 to encourage your child to hold their pose.
Thanks Chantelle for these great tips!