Yoga improves kids’ wellbeing too!
Libbey York enrolled her sons Graham, 8, and Lawson, 4, in a children’s yoga class last summer so they could meet friends and try something new. Their response surprised her. “They couldn’t stop talking about all of their new moves and practicing them all around the house,” she says. Graham likes the seated crossed-leg pose, and Lawson loves to show off his tree pose.
Many adults swear by the ancient practice of yoga for improving wellbeing. With playful names like downward dog, cat, cow and gorilla, yoga poses easily inspire the imagination of the younger set too and bestow the same benefits.
Linking mind and body. Yoga helps nurture a connection between mind, body and spirit. Balancing poses like airplane and tree, for example, strengthen muscles and also require mental focus and concentration to achieve and hold.
Research suggests that yoga can help kids improve academic performance, physical fitness, self-awareness, emotional balance and behaviour.
Stress relief. Multiple studies have found that yoga offers effective stress relief for all ages. “In this fast-paced world, children need to know how to mindfully move through their day,” says yoga instructor Katy Henderson. “Teaching children how to relax and breathe in yoga allows them to take that crucial breath before they get mad, angry or frustrated.”
Focus power. Youngsters spend an average of seven and half hours daily engaged with screen technology. The mindfulness techniques that yoga offers can help kids be more present and give their undivided attention to tasks like homework and chores. Research has found that regular yoga practice can also help children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) calm their minds and focus on the present, improving on-task time and attention.
Fitness. Yoga offers a gentle way to get kids moving, improving strength, flexibility and endurance. “For the child who is not particularly active, yoga provides an avenue to move in a playful, engaging way,” says Henderson.
Self-esteem. “Yoga fosters self-acceptance and actualization. It even helps develop self-compassion and compassion for others,” writes Kristin Henningsen in “The Benefits of Yoga for Children.”
Introducing kids to yoga
- Start your child’s day off with some simple stretches and end the day with three deep belly breaths before bed.
- Purchase or borrow a yoga video geared toward kids.
- Check out YouTube for free children’s yoga instruction videos.
- Look for classes and workshops in your area.
- Role model and invite your kids to join you during your yoga practice.
- Discover The Kids’ Yoga Deck: 50 Poses and Games by Annie Buckley.
- Lead your child through a few simple yoga stretches and breathing exercises before homework time to help with focus and concentration.