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8 easy yoga exercises for kids to keep them focused during the day

These yoga poses will help keep kids focused during a virtual school day.

Dahvia Dalton, left, and her nine-year-old son, Beckett, stand side by side while holding tree pose.
Dahvia Dalton, left, and her nine-year-old son, Beckett, stand side by side while holding tree pose.Read moreCourtesy Dahvia Dalton

Like it or not, virtual schooling means that a lot of kids are now spending their days in front of a screen. The shift is a challenge for all of those involved. But taking short breaks — let’s call them mini-recesses — could help your kid stay focused.

“Movement is important to regulate your state of attention,” says Todd Levy, an occupational therapist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The family should come up with a schedule, so that the student knows when they’re on a break, and the parents know they’re on that break.”

Screen breaks are beneficial for adults, too. If you have the time to spare, you might consider joining your kid. Dahvia Dalton, yoga instructor at Mamas Wellness Joint and mom to 9-year-old son Beckett, recommends a restorative family yoga session.

“Yoga helps get some of that energy out while also bringing a focus to the breath — and that’s something even as adults we need to remember as a tool to bring calmness,” Dalton says.

Below, Dalton shares a few moves you can try with those of all ages, along with modifications to make the experience more playful.

“See how you can bring movement into each pose," Dalton says. "If you’re moving into a squat, for example, have everyone hop around like a frog. With kids, you want to be aware that it’s not as much about making perfectly aligned poses as it is about having fun and creating a meaningful experience.”



How to do it:

  1. Sit on the ground.

  2. Press the soles of your feet together, letting your knees flop out to the sides.

  3. Hold on to your feet to help keep them together. Sit up tall, and relax your shoulders.

Get playful:

  1. Try to touch your nose to your toes.

  2. Gently flap your legs like butterfly wings.

  3. Imagine the color of your butterfly and where you’d like to fly.

Cat and Cow

How to do it:

  1. On the floor, get onto hands and knees, with your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Spread your fingers wide.

  2. For Cow: Drop your belly while you lift your head and “tail” toward the sky, creating an arch in your back.

  3. For Cat: Round your back as you drop your head and tail toward the ground, creating the shape of a hunched feline (like a Halloween cat).

  4. Move between Cow and Cat, breathing in as you move into Cow, and breathing out as you move into Cat. Continue for several breaths.

Get playful:

  1. Add sound effects. “Moo” as you create your cow, and “meow” as you become a cat.

Down Dog

How to do it:

  1. Start with hands and knees on the floor. Press your hands down firmly into the ground. Tuck your toes under as you lift your hips toward the sky and straighten your arms and legs to create an upside down “V” shape.

  2. Tuck your chin to lengthen the back of your neck, and gaze between your legs.

Get playful:

  1. “Walk” your dog by bending one knee at a time, keeping your toes on the floor.

  2. Wag your doggy tail by wiggling your hips from side to side.

Three-legged dog

How to do it:

  1. Move into Down Dog (see above).

  2. Extend one leg back behind you and lift it up toward the sky.

  3. Firmly press your hands into the ground and keep your arms straight to help keep your balance. Switch legs and repeat.

Get playful:

  1. While your leg is lifted, make circles with your ankle or your entire leg.

Tall Mountain Pose

How to do it:

  1. Stand up tall. Fully ground your feet and feel connected to the earth.

  2. Bring your arms by your sides with your palms facing forward. Inhale and reach your arms up. Press your palms together. Relax your neck and shoulders, and gaze forward. Take a few deep breaths.

Get playful:

  1. Play with your balance. Lean left or right while keeping your feet grounded, and enjoy a side stretch.

  2. Imagine that you’re a mountain. Which mountain would you be?


How to do it:

  1. Stand up tall. Begin to bend one knee, and bring the sole of your foot to either the ankle, calf, or inner thigh of your standing leg. (Avoid pressing your foot near your knee, which can cause injury.)

  2. Press your palms together at your heart. Focus your gaze on something steady to help you balance. It’s OK to fall out of the pose — keep trying!

  3. Switch sides and repeat.

Get playful:

  1. Grow your tree tall by reaching your arms up toward the sky. Press your palms together, or leave your arms open and sway them like the branches of a tree.

  2. Practice with a partner by standing side by side with hips touching.

Boat pose

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the ground with your knees bent and soles of the feet connected to the earth. Begin to lift your legs, and balance on your tailbone. If knees are bent, work toward straightening them so that you form a balancing “V.”

  2. Bring your arms up alongside your body, reaching them forward like a Zombie.

Get playful:

  1. Placing your arms on the ground to help with balance, begin to rock back and forth like a boat in the waves.

Child’s Pose

How to do it:

  1. Start with hands and knees on the floor. Spread your knees wide, and bring your toes to touch behind you.

  2. Sit back on your heels, as you lower your belly toward the floor. Let your forehead rest on the ground in front of you.

  3. Reach your arms forward and let them relax onto the ground alongside your ears. Take several deep breaths, feeling your body supported by the earth.

Get playful:

  1. Instead of reaching your arms forward, place your arms alongside your body. Imagine yourself as curled up into a tight ball.