Benefits Of Yoga For Children
By Andrea Bogart
Yoga for kids? What a lovely idea… if you haven’t already, may I inspire you to introduce the wonderful world of yoga and all its benefits to the children in your life? It’s never too early or too late to encourage a happy, healthy lifestyle for our youth.
Yoga practice gives way for a child’s imagination to be stimulated and explored in a multitude of fun ways. With the rising sun, we sweep the sky with our fingertips and swan dive to our toes. Just like a tree in the forest, we plant our roots and expand our branches. We can stand as tall as a mountain at its highest peak and lunge like a warrior to guard our heart. Friendly animals such as a frog, butterfly, giraffe, dog and cat are used to associate with simple postures. Imagine how relaxing it is to float away on a soft, fluffy cloud. Compelling storytelling and magic carpets, (aka yoga mats,) like the Chi Yoga Mat can encourage a playful way to learn and serve as a road map on an adventurous journey; physically and mindfully.
In today’s fast paced, over-stimulating, device reliant and genetically modified arena, the importance of personal connection, quieting the mind and embracing stillness aligned with self-love, acceptance and compassion is not just essential for adults but even more important for our kids. Yoga, by nature supports these things. Bringing the family together to create a bond and have some fun breathing, stretching and developing body awareness together, is connecting in a whole new way. A positive self image, cultivating peace and kindness, exploring balance, coordination, posture, strength and flexibility are among the many reasons to practice yoga at any age. Learning about mindfulness, including meditation and breathwork can help children manage their emotions with-in themselves, in their social interactions and inspire them to make better choices when given the opportunities. Children with ADHD have trouble dealing with some of the components of the human condition and are said to lack the mind/body connection, which yoga is made up of and strengthens. Aside from the skills already mentioned, yoga improves focus, attention span, relaxation and decreases stress and anxiety.
This special practice can be a parents best friend and an optimal tool for children to learn to self-regulate by gaining an understanding of how they can control their ever-fluctuating energy levels. Imagine your child having the know how to check-in with themselves in a circumstance that feels overwhelming and be able to pause and say, ”mom, I need to sit quietly to take some breaths and calm myself” or you baring witness to their increased happiness and stress managing skills as a result of a consistent practice. Believe it, it’s happening and will continue to as yoga becomes more feasible for our youth. Developing this space for children is growing rapidly in schools and other mindful programs are being implemented as research around yoga for kids, shows the statistics of mental and physical health and performance improving. Thus supporting that these things serve as a valuable element nationwide in our schools curricula providing education of the whole child; mind, body and spirit.
This is a 5,000 year old spiritual practice derived from ancient India that means “union” which focuses on the harmony of mind and body and empowers a greater sense of self. Lending support in all cultural, racial and religious backgrounds, yoga teaches non-judgement and compassion for all beings. It’s an opportunity in a non-competitive environment to equip kids with skills that help them deal with the variety of lifestyle pressures they may be experiencing. Let’s face it, kids deal with a ton more pressure today than ever before, stemming from social media, academic, varied care-givers, broken-homes, multiple activities and more. To have an outlet such as yoga that can transform their ability to cultivate more peace, joy and love while improving physical health could be life changing for a child. As a new mama, yoga practitioner and certified instructor myself, I’d love to see every child have the opportunity to explore yoga and mindfulness practices and see if we can make our world a better place to raise these wonderful beings.