When my 6-year-old daughter, Madeleine, chose to take yoga last fall over her beloved soccer, I was skeptical. Now, after just a few sessions, I've watched her awareness and self-esteem skyrocket. That's no surprise, says Jacci Reynolds, a certified yoga teacher in Santa Fe, NM: All children benefit from yoga's dual focus on activeness and serenity "Not only does yoga enhance coordination, balance, and strength, it has been shown to increase children's focus and attention," explains Reynolds. Plus, you don't have to stand out in the rain to watch her do it! The exercises below are perfect for beginners. Kids should first breathe deeply to expand their bellies to capacity, exhale completely then work through the poses, holding each one for four to six seconds. End the yoga session with the same deep breaths, which madeleine says help her stay calm around her annoying little sister.
Volcano: Stand still, with your feet on the ground and your hands in the prayer pose. Count to three and erupt, jumping up high and yelling while bringing the arms up, down, and back to center.
Downward Dog: Place your hands and feet on the ground so that you're in an inverted "V" position. Children may lift and shake one leg at a time to develop coordination, strength, and balance.
Lion: Sit on your knees, with hands on your thighs. Inhale deeply while arching your back. Lean forward, tilt your head up, and then open your eyes wide, stick out your tongue, and roar!