Kids Bedtime Yoga: Why it Works, Tips to Develop a Practice, and Poses to Try

Kids Bedtime Yoga: Why it Works, Tips to Develop a Practice, and Poses to Try

20 February 2022 • Words by Alesandra Dubin 5 mins

We already know how important it is for kids to get enough sleep: It’s an essential building block for their mental and physical health, and for their brain and body development. But did you know that yoga can be a great tool in establishing an effective, joyful, and healthy bedtime routine for kids? 

Yoga is packed with benefits for kids: The practice helps kids relieve stress and release tension. It promotes calmness and can help them fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. 

“Yoga promotes relaxation for kids and can help them build focus. By doing yoga with your child, you can teach them about calmness, and how to ease stress and anxiety. As a yoga teacher, that is one of my favorite parts about my practice, and teaching your child how to counteract anxiety and stress from an early age will do wonders for their development.”

Certified yoga teacher, Jeanine Duval

Here, experts help break down the benefits of bedtime yoga for kids, tips for developing a practice, and poses to try with beginners of all ages.

Benefits of yoga for kids at bedtime

Yoga provides valuable tools for kids to improve physical health and practice positive coping skills through all phases of life. And it can be especially helpful over the long term when kids get into it at an early age. 

“In early childhood, the brain builds more neural connections, at a faster rate, than any other time throughout the lifespan,” explains Kristi Coppa, founder of Wondergrade, which offers social-emotional tools for kids. “This creates the perfect environment for learning.”

When you teach kids tools to help manage anxiety during this sensitive time of brain development, you can make a lasting impact on their emotional and physical well-being. “Yoga equips kids with these tools,” Coppa says. “Apart from the more widely known benefits of improved balance, strength, endurance, and flexibility, yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve focus, memory, self-esteem, and behavior as well as reduce anxiety and stress in children.”

Indeed, practicing gentle yoga at bedtime can decrease stress, leading to improved sleep, which in turn improves focus and concentration, and even academic performance. 

Plus, it’s just plain fun. “Kids yoga is fun and feels good, helping kids feel empowered, happier, and more confident,” Coppa says. “It’s packed with laughter, silliness, and play, making many kids want to come back again and again.”

Tips and tricks for developing a yoga practice with kids

Ready to get started at home? Here are five tips for easing into the practice successfully.

Practice as a family

“If you try a tree and ask a little one to hold your hand to balance — maybe even pretend you really need their help — they might get inspired to try it also,” suggests Tara Stiles, founder of Stråla Yoga and author of  “Clean Mind, Clean Body”. “I like to think of yoga not as you teaching them, but you, discovering yourselves together. Doing nice things together is always fun — everyone wins.”

Make it part of a routine

Young kids thrive with predictable routines. So, instead of adding another activity into your child’s day, “try integrating simple yoga poses into their existing routines at predictable times,” Coppa suggests, such as at bedtime. A warm bath or storybook time might also be part of a soothing bedtime routine. Moshi‘s magical bedtime stories and meditations made just for kids can also help soothe kids and reduce stress before sleep.

Keep it short

“Your child doesn’t have to engage in lengthy yoga practices to reap the benefits,” Coppa says. “The right length for your child is what they can tolerate without squirming, plus a little bit more. So keep it short and keep it fun! Your child will get much more out of a short, fun yoga practice than one that is long and ends in tears.”

Keep it easy

“Kids need clear instructions to feel safe and comfortable, so keep explanations short and clear,” Coppa says. “A good rule of thumb is that the instructions should be simple enough for a verbal child to explain them to a friend, family member, or stuffed animal.”

Make it personal

Cater and adapt yoga practices to fit what your child already relates to and loves. “You can alter any exercise, pose, or activity to fit multiple subjects or themes,” Coppa says. “Creating the practice around what gets your child excited will increase engagement and make the activity more meaningful. If your child does not want to do a downward dog, why not get silly and call it the ‘bottom in the air’ pose? Or, better still, let them name the pose!”

Yoga poses to try with kids

Try these eight beginner-friendly yoga poses just right for kids at bedtime.

Crocodile: Stiles recommends this beginner yoga pose, which is ideal for kids preparing for sleep. It even resembles a “nap” position, she notes. To do it, kids lie on their stomachs with their foreheads resting on arms crossed in front. 

Fluttering butterfly: Kids bend both legs and bring the soles of their feet together. Holding both feet in their hands, they gently move their legs up and down, like the flapping wings of a butterfly. “As they flap, kids can imagine a butterfly has flown into the car and describe, with as much detail as possible, what their butterfly looks like,” Coppa says. “Ask for their descriptions. What color is it? Is it big, small, sparkly?”

Moon: Kids put both palms together and straighten their arms above their head, reaching and stretching as high as they can go. Keeping their palms pressed together, they lean slightly to one side, bending their body and arms into the shape of a crescent moon. Hold for a breath or two and then straighten and curl toward the opposite direction. 

Sunset and sunrise: Kids put their arms straight out and touch just their fingertips together, making a round shape with their arms as if they were holding a giant ball. Taking a deep and slow breath in and keeping the circular shape, they raise their arms up over their head, like a sun rising in the sky. “When they are ready for the sun to set, they take another slow breath in and as they blow out, still holding the circular shape of the arms, lower their hands down and bend as far forward as possible, bending the head down and stretching the neck,” Coppa explains.

Sitting tree pose: Kids bend one leg, bringing the foot as far up the leg as possible, or just crossing the ankles. They press their hands together at the palms and straighten their arms, bringing the hands above the head. Take several slow breaths, and then switch legs. 

Paint a rainbow: Kids press their palms together and take a big slow breath in, raising hands above the head, and keeping the palms together. “Pretending that the fingers are paintbrushes filled with different colors, they blow out and sweep the arms open to either side, ‘painting a rainbow’ over the head,” Copa explains. “Describing all the colors in the rainbow can be fun.”

Sitting mountain: Kids open hands as wide as they can and straighten their arms up above their head, reaching as high and straight as possible. With arms stretched, they take several slow, deep breaths. 

Sitting easy: In this one, kids take a big inhale and reach their arms up. “Exhale and bring your palms together and your thumbs to your heartbeat,” Stiles explains. “See if you can feel your heart pumping.”

For more ways to help kids relax and reduce anxiety, try these additional calming techniques.

Alesandra Dubin

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based lifestyle writer with a focus on parenting, wellness, and travel. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Good Housekeeping, Parents, TODAY, Best Life, and countless other outlets.