Many parents have experience teaching downward dog, cat/cow, and tree poses to young children. Adding Kundalini yoga movements can make your practice together more vigorous and playful while adding balance and better health to family life.
I began to practice Kundalini yoga when I was pregnant and felt the joyfulness eased my difficult pregnancy. After baby, I found the moves for non-pregnant people were even more fun. My toddler began to join me just before she could walk and, at nineteen months, could do an entire workout with me. I wanted to share this great way to get some more vigorous exercise while also entertaining your children.
These movements can work well for children from 12 months all the way up to 12 years or onward. Here I have given the movements child-friendly names. A simple rule — just do each movement until your child gets tired of it!
Tiny Birdie Wings
Standing with legs slightly apart and arms straight out to the side, make circular tiny birdie wings, only moving arms out to a fifteen-degree angle. This builds strength and endurance.
Simply stand with legs slightly apart, arms straight out to the side. Simply twist arms along with torso from left to right with your head following suit. Inhale quickly between sides and let out a loud breath on the left and right. Go faster. Then try it with your eyes closed.
Standing with knees fairly wide apart, gently bend forward and hang your head and weight toward the floor. Relax your arms to the floor at your sides and begin to swing from side to side, possibly brushing fingertips on the floor. Go a little faster. Make chimp noises, but don’t forget to breathe!
From standing with hands at sides, quickly raise them to touch above the head so that you feel that you are spreading your wings widely and showing off all of your feathers. Kundalini yogis say this pose can be used to gather energetic self-protection around you.
Simply put hands on hips while standing and without bending the knees, kick cross-wise in front of you. Left leg kicks to the right, right leg kicks to the left. Kangaroos have powerful kicks.
Seated cross-legged, raise your arms up in the air at a 45-degree angle, thumbs pointing up. Using quick breaths in and out of the belly, stick the tongue out and “breathe fire”, loudly.
Jump with the legs switching, left forward and right back, right forward and left back. When the right leg is back, the left arm punches outward, etc. The boxer breathes out while saying “Hoo,” and you can cheer her on by saying “go, go, go!” This is one which I could construe as being a little violent, as it is exactly like a boxer’s warm-up, but has the yoga function of releasing frustration and anger in a way that does not hurt other people. Many children and parents can find this very helpful. A variation can be an open palm as if to say “stop.”
Sitting cross-legged, pretend you are an un-coiling cobra snake. Hands go on knees with fixed elbows. From the sacrum (tush!), roll your torso around in big circles, first left and then right. Do this with your eyes closed and breathe in through your nose. Without clenching your jaw, part your lips and let a “ssss” snake sound come out with your exhale. The Sanskrit word from which “Kundalini” stems means energy which is coiled up, sometimes depicted as a serpent uncoiling from the base of the spine.
With a yoga mat or child’s play foam mat underneath, simply sit on the floor, hug knees to chest. Roll backwards to the mat and then all the way to sitting. Rock the spine vigorously and go a bit faster. Breathe in when your toes touch the mat and loudly out as your spine rolls against the floor. Your breathing out can make fun sounds like “Wheeee!”
If you feel like it, you can teach the universal Kundalini mantra Sat Nam (Truth is Our Identity) breathing/saying “Sa-tah” on the in breath, “Na-mah” on the out breath.
If as an adult you enjoy this sort of yoga, I suggest exploring Kundalini classes in your neighborhood or videos by Gurmukh Khalsa. You can also check out a kids’ video called Shanti the Yogi: Mountain Adventure, by Snatam Kaur.
Disclaimers: Much of this involves a lot of torso twisting, which is a wonderful massage for the organs and aids in release of toxins and aids digestion. Don’t do this these twisting moves while pregnant. This author is not a certified yoga teacher, only a practicing yogi and mom. If you or your child have compromised health, lung problems, or asthma, consult your health practitioner before doing this type of yoga or any other rapid movement.