Monday, July 6, 2015

Tatty Bumpkin’s Kid’s Yoga activity for the week is Octopus - great for strengthening arm and tummy muscles whilst progressing counting skills in a fun way!

By Sue Heron – Training Co-ordinator Tatty Bumpkin and Paediatric Physiotherapist 

In this blog I:
  • Describe how to do a Tatty Bumpkin Yoga activity with your child or toddler 
  • Give you reasons why the Tatty Bumpkin Yoga activity is beneficial for your child or toddler 
  • Give you some ideas on progressions for the activity and games you can play around the activity. 

This week’s Tatty Bumpkin Yoga Activity is 'Octopus'

In all the Tatty Bumpkin poses we encourage parents and carers to do the pose along with their child. This is because children learn a great deal from watching, they also ‘bond’ which other people when they are moving with them, and finally it gives you a chance to have a break and a stretch! 
Remember if you have any concerns whether you should do octopus pose always consult a health professional. If you feel any pain - do stop.
  • Firstly find a non-slip mat or an area of carpet where you can both do the pose. Make sure you both have enough room around you to avoid bumps and knocks. 
  • Take off your socks and shoes- it’s far better to do octopus pose with bare feet. Barefoot your child will slip less and will be able to do the pose more accurately. Interestingly we rely on sensory information passed up through the soles of feet to balance.  

Octopus Pose Pointers! 

Wave hands and feet as octopuses!
  • Find 4 (blue/green) streamers or ribbons and sit facing your child on the floor.
    Always use your own common sense about what objects may be dangerous for your child. Whilst they are playing with the suggested props supervise your them closely and NEVER leave them unattended, or with another child. Ribbons and streamers over 25 cm long can pose a strangulation risk.  
  • Give 2 streamers to your child and keep 2 for yourself. Hold your streamers in each hand and wave them slowly at your child - using big arm movements. Hopefully your child will be encouraged to copy you and will start to wave their own streamers. Encourage your child to do big arm movements (see ‘Why it is Good for Me’ section below). 
  • Carefully thread a streamer between your toes – support your child to do the same. Then show them how they can put their hands down behind their back on their mat and then lean back safely on their hands to wave their foot and their streamer in the air! 
  • If your child is older they may be able to thread both their streamers between their toes of each foot – and then lean back on their hands to wave both their feet in the air!  

Want to make it harder? 

  • Guide your child to sit back to back with a friend or with you! 
  • Encourage them to shuffle their bottoms a little way a way from each other – so they are leaning right back against each other for support. 
  • Then see if they can lift one or both of their feet off the floor and wave them in the air. Can they wave their arms and legs in turn to count out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 tentacles! 

Be a 'giant octopus' with a friend!

If your child is younger

  • Find an area of wall which you can both safely lean back against. 
  • Guide your child to sit with their back facing the wall and their legs stretched out in front. Thread your ribbons/streamers between your toes. 
  • Then show your child how they can shuffle their bottoms away from the wall, and lean back against it for support. 
  • In this position they may be able to wave one or both of their feet in the air- waving their steamer as they do so!  
  • Once they have the idea of balancing on their bottom – you can show your young child how they can place their hands behind them on a mat and use their hands to support themselves as they lean back to wave one foot in the air. Take this slowly though – young children find it hard to get the idea of bracing their shoulders and elbows so they can support themselves through their arms – especially in this position. Once mastered though this is a really good activity for young children as often children lack good strength in their shoulders and arms and this can effect their fine motor (hand) skills. 

Why Octopus Pose is Good for Your Child

As your child does octopus pose with you they will be:

1. Progressing their balance skills 
As your child does octopus pose they will be refining their automatic ‘balance reactions’ or reflexes. 

2. Stretching and strengthening their hamstring and thigh (quadricep) muscles
As your child bends and straightens their legs in octopus pose they will be stretching and strengthening both these muscle groups. The hamstring muscles run down the back of the thigh whilst the quadricep muscles run down the front. These muscle are the most important ones for movement, if they are strong and supple your child will find walking, running, going up/down hills and steps much easier and will be able to keep going for longer! 

3. Activating their tummy muscles
As your child waves their legs and arms in the air they will be working their tummy muscles really hard. Encourage your child to keep their arms and legs well forward, in front of them, this will help them to find their balance and ‘wake up’ their tummy muscles. 

4. Developing their social skills
Your child and their friend will be working together in octopus pose. They will have to trust each other, but once they can do the pose together they will share the joy of achievement! And - as they count their tentacles - they will improve their maths skills.

How many tentacles do I have? 

The Tatty Bumpkin Multi-sensory Yoga Adventure This Week ..

Our qualified Tatty Bumpkin Teachers are fully trained in aspects of child development and Yoga and are kept up-to-date by our professional team of paediatric physiotherapists, Yoga teachers and musicians. All the Tatty Bumpkin stories are aligned to the Early Years Foundation Stage (England) and the Curriculum for Excellence (Scotland) this means the sessions not only enhance your child’s physical skills they also develop their communication, social and thinking skills.

This week Tatty Bumpkin finds herself on the beach – Yippee! But all is not well – mermaid is crying as she thinks everyone has forgotten her birthday! Tatty Bumpkin (of course) comes to the rescue – but she will need some help. In this week’s story your child will have the chance: 

1. To improve their physical skills as they wriggle and wave in octopus pose and stretch out wide in starfish pose.

2. To use gestures or words to express their thoughts: Feeling ‘happy’ with Tatty Bumpkin on the beach, ‘caring’ for mermaid and feeling ‘curious’ and ‘brave’ as they explore the ocean. 

3. Come up with their own ideas and feel confident to talk about them e.g. Wondering who is crying and deciding what they can make mermaid for her birthday. 

4. Become more aware of their breathing as they blow out softly to make a sea breeze. 

5. Learn to dance to a rhythm as they move to the Tatty Bumpkin Octopus and rhythm songs. 

6. Most important of all - to have fun with their friends as they run over the hot sand, jump in the rock pools, wriggle and wave as octopus and make a card for mermaid! 

Happy Birthday mermaid!

Find out about your local Tatty Bumpkin class at Or, ask your child’s nursery if they are doing Tatty Bumpkin Yoga activity sessions as part of their day. 

Love Tatty Bumpkin x

A New Start with Tatty Bumpkin?  

Or, maybe, you are thinking of a new career which gives you:
  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family

Find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at