The months after a new school year starts can involve significant changes for families. The busy schedules of school, homework, sports, after-school classes, and the holidays can contribute to stress, anxiety, and pressure for kids and parents alike.

One solution to these problems is to bring the whole family together through yoga.

Practicing yoga as a family has been shown to reduce stress, reduce anxiety, and lead to healthier lives because of it. It takes just a little planning to create the opportunity for your family to come together and practice the techniques of relaxation, flexibility, coordination, and strength that yoga encompasses.

There are many ways to learn a few simple poses that you can do at home with children as young as two, whether you borrow a DVD from your local library, buy yoga cards or a book, or even use an app!

The two components of yoga that are most important are the poses and the breathing – in and out of the nose. One of the best ways to work with children is to tell a story or sing a song while going through related poses.

Breathing comes with practice. Keeping the attention of young children can be difficult, especially when it is new and different. Truthfully, that can be hard enough for most adults. If the adults focus on learning to breathe and the mind-body connection, the children will learn through practice. Singing or telling stories with movement connects the two wonderfully.

The following are 4 poses that families could do every day as a simple routine. Add more as your time and children allow:

Candle Pose (this is a great way to start a children’s yoga practice as it gets them to slow down and focus on their breath)

Cow Pose (this posture is a great warm up for the spine)

Dog Pose (stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands)

Do Nothing Pose (great posture to end a yoga practice with)

Yoga with children, especially small children, is going to look a lot different than if it were just for adults. However, it can also be a whole lot more fun if you can be flexible and a little more creative.

It will certainly take practice, patience, and accommodations, but the rewards are great. Yoga may not solve the world’s problems, but if your family can experience peace of mind while increasing fitness, then it may solve some of the stress in your small piece of the world. Go slow, have fun, and breathe.

Illustrations credit: Kathleen Rietz from the book, The ABCs of Yoga for Kids by Teresa Power.