Best Kids Yoga Poses for Vestibular Input
Yoga poses can be a great way to provide children with sensory input. In this post I share some of my favorite poses for targeting the vestibular system. Whether you are working to increase comfort with movement due to gravitational insecurity or providing a safe activity for a sensory seeker, these poses are a an accessible way to target movement in all 3 planes.
Sagittal Plane Movement
This is a nice stable pose for introducing sagittal plane movement. If needed, modify so child can rest their bottom on their calves. Child can be cued to position themself on hands and knees with knees hip distance apart and back flat. Cue them to lift their back and curve their spine as they gaze towards their belly button. Then instruct them to slowly let their belly button drop down towards the floor and lift their head to gaze up at the sky.
This pose allows for a full inversion if children are able to tolerate. For increased stability, have the child stand with feet wide. Instruct children to stand tall with arms at their side. Reach arms overhead with a big breath in and gaze up toward their fingertips. Then slowly breathe out, folding at the hips, reaching hands toward the floor and allow the head to hang gently.
Upward & Downward Dog
I love this transition for providing a big range of vestibular movement and burning off excess energy! Have the child start on hands and knees. Then they will tuck toes under and push through their arms to life their bottom up toward the ceilings. Remember, legs don't need to be locked. If the child has tight hamstrings you can cue a knee bend or cycling of legs. Then ask them to slowly drop their belly to the ground and life their head to look up to the sky.
This one is sure to elicit some giggles and is great for kids who seek lots of vestibular and proprioceptive input. Clear plenty of space before trying this pose. Have the child start in a long sit and then hug their knees into their chest. They will then roll back as far as momentum takes them and then roll back up to sitting.
This pose can be a bit challenging for kids. In this picture, you can see that I provided this child with yoga blocks to rest his hands on to make it more accessible to him. (Typically hands would rest on the posterior ankle.) Cue the child to start on their knees in a high kneel. Rather than reaching back with both hands simultaneously, they can turn their hand and place one hand on their ankle (or a block) and then place the other hand.
Frontal Plane Movement
This one goes great with a round of "I'm a little teapot." ;-) Cue the child to stand with feet wide. Reach arms out to the side and then bend at the wait to reach the left hand toward the left ankle without rotating or leaning forward. (You could always do this with back against the wall.) Then come up tall and repeat to the right.
This pose is also great for challenging standing balance with a narrow base of support. Have the child stand with feet together and clasp hands overhead. Then sidebend to the left and right as FAR as they can without rotating or taking a step.
This pose is so unique that it is great for practicing motor planning a novel task. Start by having the child come into a high kneel. Then kick one leg out to the side and rest their hand on the side of their leg. Next, reach the opposite arm up and overhead with a big breath out.
There isn't a kid who doesn't like this one! Have child stand tall with feet shoulder distance apart. Lift arms to shoulder height and stretch them as long as they can be. Then slowly rotate from left to right keeping arms rigid and twisting from the spine.
Rock the Baby
My students always find happy baby pose to be quite silly, and they eat it up when I add a rocking component. Have the child lay on their beck and bring their feet up in front of them. They will reach hands up to grasp the arch of each foot, or modify by placing hands on the back of each thigh. Then slowly rock from left to right like a baby in its cradle.
Multiple Planes of Movement
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my absolute favorite yoga tool for stimulating the vestibular system: the aerial yoga hammock! Here are the Play to Grow studio I have lots of kiddos who crave vestibular input and the hammock is a perfect way to encourage movement in all planes. We spin, flip, and move our bodies to encourage rich sensory input and SO much more.
If you'd like to get updates about our 2021 Mat & Aerial Yoga Trainings for Pediatric Therapists, drop your name below and we'll let you know when registration opens!