Yoga for your little ones

NEW DELHI:

Starting young into exercise and fitness can give the lifelong foundation your little one needs for a healthy and disciplined life. As the yoga fever rises among Indians, children have much to gain as well.

"Yoga isn't about touching your toes. It's about self acceptance and awareness. Today where happiness is sought in worldly things, it's time to teach our children that true happiness lies within," says yoga guru Sabrina Merchant, who is the author of 'Ocean Yoga'.

In 2018, Merchant founded Li'l Yogis, is an innovative and fun-filled yoga class curated exclusively for children.

Here are the top five yoga postures for children from her books.

1. Lotus Pose - Padmasana

Benefits: The pose improves digestion, stretches the knees and ankles and strengthens the spine, abdomen, pelvis and bladder.

Instructions:

Sit on the floor or on a mat with legs stretched out in front of you while keeping the spine erect. Bend the right knee and place it on the left thigh. Make sure that the soles of the feet point upward and the heel is close to the abdomen. Now, repeat the same step with the other leg. With both the legs crossed and feet placed on opposite thighs, bring your palms together towards the centre of your chest. Keep the head straight, spine erect and eyes closed. Hold and continue with gentle long breaths in and out.

2. Naukasana/Boat Pose

Benefits: This pose strengthens the abdomen and back muscles, improves balance and toughens muscles of neck, shoulder and the legs.

Instructions:

Sit on the floor with feet flat and knees bent. Hands on the floor. Engage tummy muscles to sit up tall. Lift one foot off the floor and then the other. Now slowly extend your arms straight out alongside your knees. Be strong and breath in and out, making sure your boat doesn't tip over.

3. Crab Pose/Ardha Purvottanasana

Benefits: The pose builds coordination and balance, strengthens the core, and gross motor development.

Instructions:

Start by sitting on your bottom with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind you on the floor, palms flat and fingers pointing towards your body. Lift your belly to the sky. Try crab walking forward, backward and side to side.

4. Adho Much Svanasana/Down Dog pose

Benefits: It can help strengthen the upper body while also providing an opportunity to stretch the shoulders, arms and legs.

Instructions:

Come onto your hand and knees with the top of your feet flat on the floor. Tuck your toes under and push your hips up and back into the air. Keep your arms straight, your head and neck relaxed away from your shoulders. Press your hips back as you stretch your heels down toward the floor. Bring your lower back down to the start pose and sit back on your heels.

5. Butterfly/Konasana

Benefits: Butterfly can help open the hips and stretch the inner thigh. If your child has tight hips, have her sit on a floded blanket so that hep hips are above her legs and feet. For the most benefit, encourage your child to sit up tall while practising Butterfly Pose.

Instructions:

Sit up tall and bring the bottoms of your feet together to form your butterfly wings. Breathing in, lift your knees, Breathing out, lower your knees. Continue to breathe and flap your wings for a minute.