Here at Manduka we are focused on bringing yoga to all, which includes the youngest members of our community. Along with the launch of the new Manduka PRO Kids yoga mat we have taken some time to get expert tips from Kiki Morris founder of Primrose Hill Yoga Studio in London, yoga therapist, perinatal and children yoga teacher, health care professional and the recent author of "Nurturing Your Family With Yoga". She has taken us through her journey in yoga and how she brings this practice together to help develop children's understanding of their body and mind. Enjoy this conversation and find out how to bring yoga into your children's lives.
"When we introduce children to yoga, we give them tools that will sustain & support them through life" Dr Kiki Morriss
How was your first yogic experience?
Yoga has been a part of my life since I was 6 years old. This early introduction has served as the foundation for my own practice and as inspiration to find innovative, creative and authentic ways to share yoga with children.
When did you start your kids on the mat?
I practised yoga in the 2nd & 3rd trimesters of my pregnancies and introduced my children to baby yoga when they were born. So yoga has been in their lives from the very beginning!
Having raised your children with yoga, what have you noticed in them through practicing yoga?
Yoga gives my children real, practical tools to centre and calm themselves, whatever life throws at them. It teaches them to listen to their bodies, steady their minds and treat themselves and others with kindness and compassion.
What type of yoga do you find best suited to children?
I’ve been teaching yoga to children for 20 years and the best way to get them interested is to make it playful with lots of yoga games. The A-Z game is a wonderful, engaging game that introduces children to 26 classic yoga poses. Another popular one is the Detective Yoga game, which teaches children to move slowly with control, care and patience, whilst having lots of fun.
How do you encourage your kids to get into yoga?
I try to make yoga as playful as possible for the kids and never force them to practise. We often practise outdoors, so if we are in the woods we will do Tree pose or if we are by the sea we will do Boat pose. The children see my practice and that makes them want to join in.
Do your kids have a favourite Asana or sequence?
My son’s favourite pose is Tree, as it makes him feel quiet and strong. My daughters love the Yoga in Bed sequence and all my kids enjoy Partner Yoga, particularly Lizard on the Rock. You’ll find all these practices in Nurturing Your Family With Yoga.
At what age do you think parents should be introducing yoga to their kids?
It’s never too early to introduce your kids to yoga. Babies are natural yogis and you can watch them coming into poses, such as Happy Baby, without any need for tuition! Young children approach yoga with a wonderful sense of joy and curiosity. They have natural flexibility and a good sense of balance. With gentle encouragement they learn to focus and concentrate over time.
“Early exposure to yoga acts as powerful, preventative medicine and supports good mental, physical and emotional health throughout life.”
What tips can you give to parents trying to engage with their children through yoga and keeping their focus?
Here are a few of my top tips for keeping children focused and engaged:
- Start by teaching children a yoga pose beginning with the first letter of their name. This always gets their attention. Then you can spell out their names using yoga poses. In "Nurturing Your Family With Yoga" you will find an A-Z of poses.
- Give your children their own yoga mats and let them choose the colour. Ask them to roll up their mat carefully after their yoga practice. This will encourage them to be aware of and to care for their environment.
- Keep it simple and remember you can begin with just one yoga pose or a single breath in and out.
- Children enjoy creating their own versions of poses, so encourage them to be creative and to have fun with their bodies.
- Develop your own yoga practice, as this will inspire your children the most and make them want to join in.
You've recently tested Manduka newest yoga mat for kids in one of your children class - the PRO Kids. How was your experience?
The mats are fantastic! Such beautiful colours, great quality & the perfect size. The kids love them, particularly the frog logo!! Giving a child their own yoga mat is the most wonderful incentive for them to practise yoga.
Tell us a little about your background and your journey through yoga.
I’ve been teaching yoga for 20 years. I initially trained at the Sivananda Ashrams in Canada & India, then as a Yoga Therapist with the Yoga Biomedical Trust and as a Pregnancy Yoga Teacher with Birthlight. I started my yoga career teaching 2 year olds and have taught yoga therapy to adults at London’s celebrated Triyoga.
In 2015 I opened Primrose Hill Yoga, a tranquil and light-filled studio in the heart of London. It’s a place for people of all ages & abilities to feel nurtured, whilst experiencing the physical, mental, emotional & spiritual benefits of yoga.
How did you come to the idea to create this book Nurturing Your Family with Yoga?
As a mother of 3, the idea for this book came from my own children and how children’s yoga is a continuation of nurturing, a way for children to find calm and grow in their confidence, laying the foundations for the teen and adult years.
I wrote "Nurturing Your Family With Yoga" to show how yoga can be a real part of everyday family life and bring happiness and harmony to the home. It’s illustrated with beautiful, inspiring photographs of children and adults practising yoga together and is filled with fun & practical suggestions for incorporating yoga into daily life.
How have you seen the benefits of yoga over the past year for your children? Especially since they have had such a lot of home study due to school closures.
The past year has been full of uncertainty and challenges. Our family yoga practice has been an opportunity to connect with each other in a positive way every day. It has been a time for my children to focus on their breath, to stretch & strengthen their bodies, to calm their minds and to feel safe, secure and deeply loved.
Do you ever see a day that you can prescribe yoga as part of a western medical treatment/prevention?
As a medical doctor and yoga teacher, I am constantly inspired by the potential of yoga to prevent and treat health conditions, as well as to relieve symptoms. Through my work I am reminded on a daily basis that yoga is powerful medicine. I am a strong advocate for making it available on prescription in the NHS.
To all those sat on the fence about the benefits of yoga at a young age, what’s your biggest reason to give them to try it out?
Kids need yoga as much as we do and by introducing them to it, you are giving them a gift for life. It will help them build a strong and flexible body, achieve a peaceful and relaxed state of mind, sleep well, build their self-confidence and improve their focus, concentration and memory.
Studio or home practice which do you prefer and why?
I would choose the collective energy and sense of community of studio practice. Of course it’s been a blessing to practice at home over the last year, through the technological wonders of Zoom!
About Kiki Morriss
Kiki Morriss was born in London and fell in love with yoga aged 6. She has worked as a medical doctor in some of London's top hospitals and writes a regular column on anatomy for OmYoga Magazine. She started her yoga career teaching 2 year olds, taught yoga therapy at London's celebrated Triyoga and is the founder of Primrose Hill Yoga. With three young children Kiki is passionate about the benefits of starting young and she not only runs family classes but wrote a book, "Nurturing Your Family With Yoga: An A-Z of yoga poses, meditations, breathing and games for the whole family."