Starting Small

Posted on in On Our Radar by Emilie Rohrbach

Yoga for Wee Ones Ages 0-5

Bridget Kate Lemerande’s eyes light up when she’s asked to talk about yoga. “Yoga makes me feel calm,“ she says as she demonstrates the tree pose, “And it makes my sad feelings go away.” At 5 years old Bridget is no newcomer to the tree pose—she’s already been practicing yoga for three years. Bridget is part of a new generation of yogis that have started young, sometimes as early as newborn to 6 months of age. By kindergarten some have a regular practice. Many benefits have been proven over the years of introducing young children to yoga movement and mindfulness techniques. Now we’re learning those benefits extend as well to children as young as 0-5.

Supports brain development

“Babies’ brains are like sponges. They absorb so much by watching their mothers, other parents, and other babies, and by hearing sounds around them,” says Jeeta Gandhi, marketing coordinator at Blossom Birth Services. Adds Michelle Wing, founder of It’s Yoga Kids in San Francisco, “The basics of body and brain development, especially building strength and soothing skills for impulse control and self-regulation, are evident from the very beginning.” The repetition of yoga poses has been shown to help with memory and cognitive skills.

Supports parent-child relationship

Yoga classes structured for babies 0-2 allow babies and parents to connect. For example, Saraswathi Devi at Yogalayam in Berkeley tells us, “In the post-natal yoga class, the parents and infants work together. We open with meditation, visualization, and breathing with the babies in laps. Then we work on parent-baby exercise, both on the floor and standing. The babies ride on and with their parents. We carry, swing, and hold them in all directions.”

woman with guitar and little girl
yoga lesson with children
smiling girl

Invites creative play

Yoga classes for this age use a blend of music, movement, poses, games, and guided visualization, all geared toward honoring children’s innate creativity. “Kids have a ton of energy and spirit, so we have music and games that intentionally bring them into a mindful space, with amazing results,” says Jocelyn “Jyoti” Kay Levy, founder of Wee Yogis. Levy produced the first Wee Yogis album in 2009 and then turned it into the first-ever yoga musical in 2012, a creative journey that led her and her students to perform for Ram Dass’s nonprofit, Love, Serve, Remember. Now Levy leads a kids’ yoga mindfulness program for the nonprofit’s bi-annual retreats. “We actually start teaching kids around four months, and by one year of age they are able to sing along with the songs and remember some of the important exercises.”

mother and her child
the child is doing yoga
child with rug

Increases self-awareness

Yoga at an early age helps children understand how their bodies move. “It is one of the best ways to build flexibility and balance, which in turn can help children thrive in many sports as well as reduce the chance of injury. Through practicing yoga children can often build patience, not only with others but with themselves, and better understand how their body works,” say the leaders at JAMaROO in San Francisco. Adds Jennifer Sohn of Little Pretzel Yoga, “Yoga builds strength, coordination, and flexibility, and it’s a fun, non-competitive physical activity that kids can do anytime and anywhere.”

Increases self-regulation

It is never too early to start providing children the space to be reflective and aware of the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and actions. “The benefits of mindful movement for this age are deep. Bringing awareness to breath is integral for students to help them be come aware of the physiological responses to different situations and emotions in their bodies. With that awareness, students can learn to regulate their responses to stress or frustration by refocusing their response to an inner focus on breath and a focus on a calm place that they have practiced visualizing. The practice of mindfulness is for life!” says Vanessa Lyons, yoga teacher at Bayside/ MLK School in Marin City.

Invites connection

In a digital age where kids are increasingly feeling isolated and resigned to the often shallow interactions afforded by social media, it’s never too early to start connecting them to others with compassion and empathy. Offering a heartfelt Namaste to one another can make a real difference in seeing and connecting to the child on the yoga mat next to you. Says Wing, “We incorporate principles of yoga off the mat as well to inspire self-care, connection, effective communication, and even world steward ship.”

Emilie Rohrbach is a music and theatre teacher, musician, and local freelance writer. She is the music blogger for Marin Magazine and a regular contributor whose writing has also been featured in Common Ground, Travelers’ Tales, Divine Caroline, Hippocampus, and Narratively.

Bay Area Resources


» It’s Yoga Kids –

» JAMaROO Kids –


» Blossom –


» Wee Yogis –


» Yogalayam –


» Vanessa Lyons –

» Jennifer Sohn –

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