Yoga is indeed popular with adults. Just look at the entire yoga industry that has bloomed in the past five to ten years. But as adults feel the benefits of regular down-dogging, they are quick to realize how the physical and mental effects of this ancient Indian practice can also benefit young children.
Here is what you need to know about yoga for kids.
More and more, yoga schools are offering yoga for kids. Not only can yoga be a great physical workout for children, but studies have also shown that yoga may help children to focus better in school and improve their concentration. And because of yoga’s non-competitive nature, it is a refreshing and welcome alternative to sports that are rooted in winning or losing and pressure-filled games.
Yoga has also been shown to improve a young woman’s confidence about her body. In fact, yoga is often a form of therapy provided to young girls and women who have experienced an eating disorder. The power of yoga to look internally rather than externally, reduce anxiety, and directly embrace the strength of the body, rather than criticize, are integral healing qualities that are necessary to move beyond the grips of anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorders.
Thanks to kids’ agile bodies, they are much quicker to perform some of the more pretzel-like postures of yoga, like twists such as lotus or padmasana posture. Plus, because of their lack of fear, they can easily pop into a handstand, push up into a back-bend or stand on their head. While adults can master these postures as well, it takes us a bit longer to get over the timidity of falling and, in essence, reconnect with our younger self.
Just like any physical activity, when children perform yoga postures, they should do so under the instruction and guidance of a qualified yoga instructor. A mix of postures like balancing postures, seated twists and twists are both fun and challenging for kids, which helps to keep them focused and engaged.
No yoga practice is complete without special attention to the breath. Yoga breathwork for children is just as important as it is for adults. As children learn to tune in to their breath, even just for a few seconds, they quickly experience the calming effects of quieting their minds. Furthermore, if taken seriously enough, young adults will transfer the breathing work they do in yoga class to off their yoga mat, like when they become nervous right before a presentation in school.
To learn more about yoga for kids, contact yoga studios around your area to see if they offer any kid-specific classes. Also, consider talking to your child’s school about holding a yoga class during regular physical education class or after school.
April 11th, 2011