Yoga and Children

Children today live in a crazy world.  Parents are hurried, school pressures mount, studies abound, video games are played and soccer, hockey or baseball practices consume free time.  While these events may not seem stressful on the surface, in reality, they can add stress to children’s lives.  Children also take on emotional, social, and physical challenges or conflicts- and a dedicated yoga practice that includes breathing exercises and physical postures can be very valuable to them.

In general, yoga helps with stress.  Adults can learn relaxation, to gain inner peace and stress relief from yoga- but so can kids!  Yoga can teach children self-awareness, self-esteem and decompression techniques.  Yoga lets children explore physical activity in a non-competitive environment, teaches them compassion and to accept and love their own bodies. Shana Meyerson, founder of mini yogis (miniyogis.com), a yoga studio in Southern California, says, “A child’s yoga practice is a rare opportunity to experience play and focus without worrying about being wrong.”  She also feels that yoga is an option for children who shy away from physical activity or group activities for fear of failure or being picked last, and it helps athletic children excel in other physical activities and sports.

Additionally, yoga encourages flexibility, strength, balance and coordination.  Yoga also allows children a chance to get to know themselves in a different manner. Christina Enneking, founder of Heart Happy Yoga in Los Gatos, California, believes yoga introduces cornerstone values “such as non-harming, truthfulness, moderation, cleanliness, gratitude, and self-discipline.”

Children’s yoga classes are taught at many studios, but children can also learn at home.  Yoga is also something that children can practice on the fly. Children can practice alone, with a friend or in a group setting. Thankfully, many schools are now also teaching yoga to young children, and there are many after-school or weekend classes for kids being offered. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and The National Association of the Education for Young Children (NAEYC) recommend that children should participate in activities that support the development of the whole child. This is exactly what yoga is about!

In case you’re not convinced yet, here are some of the many, many reasons to incorporate yoga into your child’s life!

1. It enhances physical flexibility.

2. It refines balance and coordination.

3. It develops focus and concentration.

4. It boosts self-esteem and confidence.

5. It strengthens the mind-body connection.

6. It strengthens growing bodies.

7. It increases self-esteem.

8. It teaches present moment awareness.

9. It provides tools for stress management.

10. It encourages kind peer and social interactions.

11. It teaches discipline and responsibility.

12. It teaches children about their bodies.

13. It teaches children how to breathe better.

14. It teaches children how to use energy more effectively.

No more excuses- get those kids practicing yoga!

Sources:

http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/210

http://www.parents.com/fun/sports/exercise/the-benefits-of-yoga-for-kids/

http://www.positivelypositive.com/2012/09/24/giving-kids-the-gift-of-yoga-top-10-benefits-of-yoga-for-children/

http://www.pbs.org/parents/food-and-fitness/sport-and-fitness/why-yoga-and-kids-go-together/