The word yoga tends to conjure images of barefoot adults on colorful mats listening to soothing music while in downward dog. But have you ever stopped to consider the benefits yoga offers to kids? Asking children to slow down and clear their minds may sound like an impossible task, but there are a lot of reasons children enjoy yoga, and even more reasons why it’s good for them. Mentally, yoga can help kids fight stress and find peace in a busy world. The physical aspects of yoga are important for kids, too. Through yoga, kids find strength, build muscle, increase flexibility, and improve balance.
Kids today are under pressure more than adults often realize. Whether stress comes from school, home life, extracurricular activities, or something else, we can’t deny our kids are affected by the fast paced world we’re raising them in. Yoga offers a way to slow down and de-stress while countering the “hurry up” world most kids live in these days. It’s not just the moves either; the breathing techniques taught in yoga are helpful for kids who suffer from anxiety or who are easily overwhelmed.
Try these moves to find calm:
Bound Angle Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
How many times do you have to head into your preteen’s room to rouse them from sleep? There’s a reason that adults often work out in the mornings. Getting your body moving and blood pumping at an early hour sets you up for success for the rest of the day and actually provides energy. Choose a short five-minute routine to do as a family and start your day. Flow yoga is a good choice for a quick wakeup the whole family can do.
Try these moves to wake up:
How to do a sun salutation
Start in a standing position, circle your arms over your head and clasp your palms together before lowering them to hearts center. Then, swan dive your hands to the ground so they are sitting on either side of your feet. Do a half-lift with your hands on your lower legs, collapse back to a forward fold, and then reverse your swan dive to go back to a standing position and bring your hands back to heart center. That is one sun salutation. Now, repeat three to five times. Tip: Pair your moves with your breath, with each move coming as you change from breathing in to breathing out.
Yoga as a practice is focused on flexibility. Each breath is designed to help yogis find a deeper stretch. As an added benefit, kids who play sports may see improvement in their athletic performance after practicing moves that target flexibility.
Try these moves to focus on flexibility:
Downward facing dog
Not all kids will jump for joy at the thought of doing yoga, but there are ways to reel them in. Try these three tips if your kid is knocking yoga before they try it.
1) Make it sound fun. Those funny names that make you giggle might catch the attention of your toddler, too. You don’t even have to call it yoga. Ask your child if they want to mimic a favorite animal or see how a cat turns into a cow. Pick animal names or cool-sounding moves like the goddess pose to entice new yogis.
2) Start small. Launching your kid into a one-hour crash course on vinyasa may not be the best way to ease them in. Instead, choose 5-10 minute yoga sessions to start with, or even just a few moves to teach each day. A quick YouTube search for kid-friendly sessions turns up storybook yoga and more.
3) Get competitive. Make yoga a competition. Challenge your son or daughter to see who can hold their chair pose the longest. If you win, your child just may be inclined to start practicing to best you next time. Get creative with it and make the challenges about flexibility, repetitions, or skill.
Read All About It:
Learn about yoga through colorful stories created for young kids.
Good Morning Yoga & Good Night Yoga
By Mariam Gates
Encourage kids to practice wake up and calm down yoga.
You are a Lion!
By Taeeun Yoo
Take advantage of those kid-friendly moves by mixing animal sounds with poses.
By Janet S. Wong
Explore the deeper feelings associated with yoga.
I Am Yoga
By Susan Verde
Learn new poses while also bringing imagination to your practice.