Baby yoga - a bedtime ritual

Establishing a smooth, calm, happy bedtime routine that concludes with the heavy breathing of a sweetly sleeping babe by 7:30pm - ish  has been more than a journey! (Someday I may have the energy to document a few highlights of our experience. Who knows, there may come a day when I'll want to look back, smile and laugh at these epic, sleep deprived days!!)

One of our special bedtime rituals, which the whole family loves, is baby yoga! 
We have found that 2 year old B settles much easier when he has used up a good deal of energy during the day. If, after his bath, he is still jumping and dancing about like a crazy, little puppy... we often pull out one of our favourite bed time books: Sleepy Little Yoga, by Rebecca Whitford and Martina Selway. 
It is such a gorgeous book, which calms B down page by page, through a series of animal poses and 'goodnight sounds'. From a sensory processing perspective, I believe this book is a fabulous tool for encouraging B to experience the tactile, proprioceptive and kinesthetic sensory input he seems to be seeking to help him calm and focus on preparing for bed and sleep.


Copying the animal yoga poses provides many great opportunities for kids including:
- practising visual motor organisation (coordination) skills,
- working on balance skills,
- gaining a greater sense of body (spatial) awareness,
- listening and following instructions,
- establishing  a wonderful routine for your family's daily rhythm, and
- practising how to slow down, focus and self calm.

We introduced this book to B not long after his 1st birthday and it did not take him long to learn the different animal poses and sounds! Now at nearly 2 1/2 years old, he still absolutely loves it and either points at the book shelves, asking for "Baby"or "Baby Yo--gahh" if it is out of reach, or just helps himself to it any old time of day 'just because'. It is the most adorable thing to peek on a quiet, content toddler, expecting some trick like a canister of hand soap to be dispensed on the floor, and instead, to find him curled up like a porcupine or humming like "a sleepy bee", imitating whichever page has fallen open. 

Although it is probably best read through cover to cover to follow the series of poses as intended, I often take a more child-led approach, and encourage B to choose which animal pose he feels like doing ...[read: to avoid bedtime tantrums and carry on pre-bed when he insists on flipping to his favourite pages, I am happy to follow suit:-)!!]

This book has been around a while (since 2007), and we are not the only ones who love it! You can follow the link here to check out Lauren from Tutus and Teapartiescutest little one performing some of the poses from Sleepy Little Yoga too. 

We also have a copy of "Little Yoga: A toddler's first book of yoga" which the same authors published two years earlier, in 2005. This book is a favourite of Kate from An Everyday Story who has documented some wonderful outcomes of her son practising the yoga regularly here.

Whilst I am not a yoga expert by any stretch of the imagination, Giselle Shardlow from Kids Yoga Stories is! Giselle is a big advocate of kids enjoying yoga anytime of the day and has this to say about why yoga is so good for kids to do at bedtime:
"Your child’s sleep habits will potentially affect his or her health, academic performance, and emotional well-being.  Creating a consistent and positive bedtime ritual that your child looks forward to each night will benefit not only him/her, but the whole family.  Adding yoga to the bedtime routine invites calm and stillness to their busy lives through yoga postures, relaxation techniques, and breath work.  Everyone gets the benefit of the enjoyable and relaxing experience.  Calming poses are forward bends, restorative poses, gentle twists, and some inversions.  Try a few postures or read a kids yoga bedtime story together.  Treasure these magical moments and know that you are giving your child the gift of healthy sleep habits for life."
Having had such great success with our first couple of kids' yoga books, we are keen to explore more! If you have not checked out Kids Yoga Stories' yoga inspired books for 3-8 year olds - you simply must! They are beautiful, educational and fun additions to every family's book collection and daily routines. Watch for a review of  Luke's Beach Day coming soon to Kids' Play Space!

But wait! There's more!...

Marnie at Carrots are Orange also loves to incorporate yoga in her kids' day, and has a great list of yoga books for kids on her post here.

And here are a couple of other sites to check for those of you who are interested in kids practising yoga: 

- Every child (person) has their own particular sensory profile, requiring their own 'sensory diet'. Our routine includes some ideas, carried out in a particular order, which seem to be well suited to our 2 year old. For specific sensory processing advice for your child related to calming/settling, an individual paediatric occupational therapy assessment is recommended.

For more of our bedtime ritual fun, you may like to check out Star Gazing and Possum Hunting...

...or our guest post on the fabulous Housing A Forest website: a  fun Nocturnal Possum Small World - in a window sill activity, learning about the night time creatures and offering a temporary indoor possum hunting alternative on stormy, nasty nights!

Thanks for visiting Kids' Play Space!
'til soon,
Anna :-) 
PS: I'd love to hear your experiences, ideas or book recommendations with bedtime yoga!

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