Whenever I see a list of the benefits of kid’s yoga, I experience a flood of varying emotions. At first I laugh a little because, let's be honest, that same list could apply to most adults I know, including myself. Once the laughter subsides I am onto logistics. How are all of those things being accomplished in 45 minutes with a bunch of little kids? Finally, I am left feeling a bit overwhelmed because I suddenly feel compelled to add this "highly beneficial" activity to my kids' already overloaded list of extra-curricular demands. After all, I don't want to risk my child growing up to be a sub-par citizen (insert sarcasm here).
After all is said and done and the emotions reconciled, I do feel that it has been worthwhile to introduce yoga to my young children. I’m going to attempt to highlight why, at least from this mom's perspective, yoga is worth introducing to your young child(ren) as well. The key points that follow have also become the core goals that Backyard Yoga is striving to achieve with each new product.
- Calming techniques: Need I say more? We have all experienced the toddler melt-down or a moment of anxiety for our child. I personally went through a period of time where I knew I needed to be ready at a moment's notice to talk my then five-year-old out of a major anxiety attack. This was best accomplished through breathing and visualization techniques.
- Expands Creativity and Imagination: Kid's yoga classes are typically themed classes that take the participants on an adventure. In addition, the poses have fun names like Lion or Turtle. This allows the children to free their minds and let their imaginations flow as they co-create their experience with the teacher.
- Focus & Concentration: Anyone who has spent even a moment with a toddler knows that these elements are in short supply. Yoga helps to facilitate the growth of focus and concentration over time. The class format alone allows children to expend a lot of energy and then bring it down to a calming energy. This all requires differing levels of focus and concentration.
- Increases body awareness: This is pretty self-explanatory. With the wide array of poses in a yoga practice, your child will have plenty of opportunities to discover not only what their body can do now, but also how that changes as they get older and stronger.
- Develops Core: This one speaks to me because, from a young age, I had a volleyball coach that made us do core work every day. I didn’t grasp the importance at the time, but it’s something I live by today and preach to my husband routinely, much to his dismay. Seriously though, core work is essential to coordination and good posture for young, growing bodies.
- Relaxes the body: Relaxation promotes sleep, and this is why bedtime yoga routines are popular. When my kids were babies, I had a regular routine that I did with them each night, and I know it helped. My toddler still loves to include a yoga book in her bedtime routine, and it seems to help bring her typically high energy down for rest.
- Builds Self-Esteem: All levels of physical abilities can do yoga. There is no wrong way to do a pose, especially in kid’s yoga. Children learn that however the pose shows up in their body, it is exactly right for them in that moment. Self-esteem can also be strengthened through game play. I like to use Yogi Says (Simon Says) during my classes. I model the concept first by being "Yogi" and then offer a chance for the kids to take turns leading. Even my shy little girl looks forward to her turn as the leader--in fact, it’s one of her favorite things to do.
- Inspires Respect for Self and Others: In other words, learning to be a good friend to yourself and to others. Like most spirit elements, this concept is interwoven throughout class and should be modeled by the teacher or parent. I started adding a little challenge at the end of every class where I might ask the kids to make 3 people smile that day or help their mom with one house chore. .
At the end of the day, there are hundreds of benefits to introducing yoga to your children. From my perspective, as a mother of a 2- and 6-year-old, the benefits outlined above are the ones I see routinely showing up in our household. To help get you started reaping the benefits of kid's yoga in your own home, here are 2 little exercises you can implement today.
Do you do yoga with your kids? What benefits do you see? Please share your insights in the comments below.
Peace + Play - erica