Is YouTube yoga as good for kids as the real thing?

Is YouTube yoga as good for kids as the real thing?

Yoga offers a ton of benefits for young children, and online resources like YouTube make it easy to take a daily yoga break at home or in the classroom, even if you’re not a yoga expert yourself. But is YouTube yoga just as good for kids as taking a yoga class or following a parent-led yoga session?

As a certified yoga teacher, here’s my opinion: YouTube is a great place to go for yoga when you can’t leave the house. Even though I’m a yoga teacher myself, I still often explore other teachers’ work on YouTube to help inspire my own practice. But here’s the thing: not all online yoga classes are created equal.

If you’re new to yoga, it may be difficult to tell what’s a good choice for your kiddos. After watching videos from several popular YouTube yoga channels for kids, and testing a few online classes with my three-year-old, here’s my opinion on a few of the most popular channels—plus some additional tips to get the most out of YouTube yoga with your kids.

Popular, stimulating, and fun: Cosmic Kids Yoga

One of the most popular kids’ yoga channels aimed at preschoolers is Cosmic Kids. I tried out “Yoga Time, On the Farm” with my son and followed it up by watching the “Spider-Man Yoga Pose Compilation” on my own. The teacher has a great deal of energy and is very engaging. My son couldn’t take her eyes off her… but that’s not always a good thing! 

While my son would follow along with the poses, he would immediately then look up, glued to the screen until the next pose. While I know that kids’ yoga needs to be engaging and is often filled with songs, sounds, and stories, I don’t think all this animation is necessary. Personally, I felt the videos could be a bit overstimulating—quite contrary to what I hope to get from a yoga session!

Related read: Balance poses to do at home with kids

I also thought the course was a bit fast, especially for a three-year-old. While older kids may benefit from this speed, preschoolers still like and really benefit from repetition. This class moved quickly from pose to pose, sometimes not even doing a pose on both sides. I assume the idea was to ensure kids didn’t get bored, but if it takes rapid speed and active animation to keep someone interested, I worry that many of the benefits of yoga, such as improved focus and concentration, are cancelled out. There are several classes based on popular movies and TV shows, however, and I could see putting on “Frozen Yoga” as a great substitute for watching Frozen for the millionth time.

More traditional (though still energetic): Smile and Learn

Smile and Learn is another YouTube option offering a sun salutation for Kids. Once again, I was put off by all the animation. Instead of just saying “hi” to the sun, there was a lot of sound and movement on-screen at each step of the way, prompting kids to look at the screen rather than focus on the poses. I did appreciate that it was teaching more “traditional” yoga as opposed to yoga that’s completely modified for kids. I didn’t show this one to my son because I felt like it moved too quickly, but it would probably be suitable for kids over five. 

My personal fave: StoryHive

StoryHive’s yoga class for kids is much more like a “real class,” or what you would find on YouTube for adults. Personally, this was my favourite option, as it wasn’t filled with animation and stimuli. It was simply yoga that kids can follow along with. Yet even in the case of this calmer class, I noticed my son was still glued to the screen! To me, this speaks to the fact that yoga on YouTube is both yoga and “screen time” (more about that below) and strengthens my feeling that all the animated bells and whistles aren’t really needed. 

Three tips when doing YouTube yoga with your kids:

1. Do the course with them

Doing YouTube yoga with your kiddo has benefits for everyone. If you’re struggling to find time in your day to do yoga, doing these sessions sure beats doing nothing at all! And some of them are quite fun. Kids are more likely to really do the practice, rather than just stare at the screen, if they see you doing them too. Plus, this will give you the opportunity to learn some techniques if you want to try yoga without YouTube in the future. 

2. Count it as screen time

Whatever limits you do or don’t set on screen use in your home, yoga on YouTube should be considered “screen time.” While it is active and, in my opinion, beats sitting and watching cartoons, there’s still a bright screen, loud sounds, and often a lot of stimuli. Some negative aspects of screens, such as that sense of instant gratification and lack of focus, are still there and should be considered. 

Related read: World Health Organization guidelines on screen time for kids under five

3. Use it as a bouncing off point for more yoga

If you are new to yoga or trying to “hook” your child, yoga on YouTube is a great way to start. If they enjoy it, you may consider finding a class you can sign them up for or doing yoga with them at home or in a family course. 

The bottom line

Using YouTube videos as a way to introduce your kids to yoga or get them moving when you’re stuck inside is definitely a great option, but you probably don’t want to rely on it long-term. Much of the imaginative, silly fun of kids’ yoga is overshadowed by graphics and noise. Go ahead and check out a few videos with them, but encourage them to keep practicing without the screen, on their own and with you too!

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