Yoga is healing. Once you experience its benefits, it’s only a matter of time before you introduce yoga to your kids.
Sometimes, the demands at home and school can be too much for your kids to handle. Yoga benefits kids’ health by offering an outlet for their stress.
It’s not uncommon to find yoga classes for a mom and child. It’s not a matter of why but when to start yoga for kids.
Provided they can understand the teacher’s instructions, kids can start yoga at any age. As such, even 4-year-olds can start yoga for kids.
But first, what is yoga? It’s a physical activity that merges meditation and breathing exercises.
This practice is both physical and spiritual. Though there’s no documentation of its inventors, yoga traces its roots to Northern India 5,000 years ago.
The earliest mention of this practice was on the Rig Veda, the first of the four Vedas containing mantras and hymns. Besides being one of Hindu’s six philosophy systems, yoga also features prominently in Buddhism.
How Yoga for Kids Began
Yoga teacher Shakta Khalsa was pivotal to the growth of yoga for kids from a Kundalini society in the ’70s.
According to the Montessori instructor, yoga for kids is a discipline on its own, not a softer version of adult yoga.
Khalsa used simple descriptions in her sessions to aid the children’s understanding. She discovered that simple explanations increased the mind and body benefits of yoga for kids.
For example, she asked the kids to mimic a mountain for the downward dog position. What’s more, she told the kids to imagine blowing on a feather instead of asking them to inhale and exhale.
Modern teachings aren’t so different from the original ones. YogaKids International pioneer Marsha Wenig also believes that yoga for kids’ teachings is different from adult’s.
While adults can lose themselves during sessions, instructors struggle with maintaining children’s concentration.
Like Khalsa, Wenig’s teaching methods are also simplistic. She encourages kids to hiss during the cobra pose and bark during the dog position.
Health Benefits of Yoga
More people are adopting yoga thanks to its heightened body awareness. The health benefits of yoga spread across every age group, from kids and adults to seniors.
The best part is you don’t need to register for a yoga studio or buy specialized equipment to start yoga for kids and parents.
All you need is a clean space that is free of distraction. So, why is yoga good for kids?
You might want to introduce bedtime yoga for kids suffering from sleeping disorders. According to past statistics, 55% of yoga experts report better sleep.
Note that quality rest doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping longer. Although the explanations of quality sleep vary, most people equate good sleep to uninterrupted rest and high energy when they wake up. For starters, yoga for kids invites sleep by tiring the body.
However, exhaustion isn’t enough to fall asleep. Yoga for kids clears the mind to eliminate any stressful thoughts that might interrupt your kids’ rest.
Again, it relaxes the nervous system and enhances circulation to your brain’s sleep region. Yoga also accelerates slimming to control weight-related sleep problems like sleep apnea.
You can also use yoga for kids with ASD to reduce stress and improve sleep. Furthermore, bedtime yoga facilitates toxin release and oxygen circulation through meditation and breathing exercises.
It also releases any muscle and joint tension that could hinder sleep.
Yoga plays a major role in your kids’ self-esteem. First off, yoga philosophies emphasize self-love as the genesis of loving other people.
You need to love yourself to find a partner on the best dating sites review. You can also use mantras in yoga for kids to affirm their self-worth.
Your child is more likely to make friends when they think positively of themselves.
Similarly, they can stand up to bullies, apologize, and seek help. Likewise, yoga triggers endorphins to make your kids more cheerful and confident.
Kids also lose the competition mentality during yoga for kids training. This way, kids can exercise without the fear of becoming last.
Not saying yoga is useless in competitive sports. By improving mind-body links, yoga increases physical awareness to reveal the child’s limitations and capabilities.
Remember, your child’s confidence increases as they become better at yoga for kids. Striking a challenging pose after hours of practice boosts your young one’s self-esteem.
Your child could also transfer this perseverance to their everyday lives.
Increased Memory and Focus
Yoga meditation enhances a child’s ability to remember information. According to researches, kids who practiced yoga had a 43% higher memory score than those who studied fine art.
You can also use yoga poses for kids with concentration problems. Since most poses require calmness and focus on executing, kids can better their grades by applying yoga concentration techniques in their schoolwork.
Additionally, yoga enhances cerebral circulation through inverted postures like shoulder and headstands.
This translates to more oxygen in the brain, hence, heightened alertness. According to past research, even short yoga sessions impact brain activity.
Participants (20 female students) went through a 20-minute yoga session, meditation, deep breathing, and aerobics.
The participants later underwent cognitive tests to gauge cerebral abilities like memory, judgment, and attention. The yoga participants posted better cognitive scores.
Improved Social Interactions
Although your kids can practice yoga on their own at home, yoga is also a social activity.
For example, you could sign them up for yoga for kids’ beginners’ classes to integrate them into the local yoga community.
The good news is instructors try to make the sessions social through singing, games, and partner poses. That way, the kids interact with each other and make friends.
Yoga also increases happiness. Per a BUSM report, yoga triggers GABA, a brain molecule that controls depression.
Your kids are more likely to spread joy when they’re happy. By accelerating stress reduction, yoga makes your kids loving, expanding their social circle.
With kids hunched over their devices most of the time, you can use yoga to control your kids’ digital addiction while rectifying their postures.
If you have a desk job, yoga with mom and baby sessions are also an opportunity to correct your posture and bond with your offspring in the process.
There are several reasons why you need a good posture.
For starters, it aligns the body for optimal organ function. For instance, yoga creates enough space in your chest for your lungs to expand.
Your rib cage folds at a slouched position, hindering breathing. Yoga for kids also relieves neck injuries and backaches through even weight distribution.
You could also consider yoga for kids’ flexibility. By stretching the muscles, yoga reduces fatigue and aids motor skills for your kids’ success in physical activities.
Instructors also provide yoga tips for muscle strength. This enables your child to lift heavier loads while minimizing the risk of injury.
Which Yoga Poses Are Good for Kids?
Yoga poses for kids draw inspiration from the natural environment. Because kids cannot concentrate for long hours, instructors have to get creative during yoga for kids to maintain the children’s attention.
Note that poses serve different purposes. As such, some poses may benefit some people more than others. Here are some yoga poses for kids you can try.
This pose is the answer to your kid’s balance problems. The tree pose develops the child’s balance reactions, helping them stand, sit, and walk.
This position also strengthens core muscles to enhance your kid’s sporting skills in games like football and tennis.
Since this pose requires coordination, you can use it to increase your child’s concentration. Apart from the yoga exercise, you can make things enjoyable by drawing a tree and going outside to observe nature.
How to Execute
- Stand upright in Tadasana and breathe in.
- Look forward and identify a point of focus.
- As you exhale, rest your left foot on your right upper thigh.
- Straighten your standing foot and transfer your body weight there. Imagine yourself as a tree and your grounded leg as the roots.
- Squeeze the left sole into your right thigh and try to achieve a midline.
- Inhale and raise your arms to the sides as if they’re tree branches.
- Breathe out and place your hands together next to your chest. Lift your hands overhead to mimic a growing tree.
- You can ask the kids to picture a tree of their choice and the environment in which it grows. You can even tell the kids to sway like trees in the wind.
- Take several deep breaths and shift the position to the other leg.
- Toddlers can stay in the position briefly while older kids hold the pose a little longer.
Like the cobra sheds its skin, this position is an opportunity for reflection and change. Sometimes called the snake pose, this position strengthens your back by working on the glutes, spinal extensors, and hamstrings.
The cobra pose also enhances breathing by lengthening your spine and expanding your chest. Your abdominal muscles aren’t left behind.
The cobra pose doubles as a core workout to align your body and improve posture. You can also use this exercise for stress reduction.
Lying on the floor creates a grounding feeling and calms your nervous system.
How to Execute
- Rest on your belly, straightening your legs behind you.
- Put your hands on the ground below your shoulders.
- Press your legs together, thinking of them as one.
- As you inhale, push your palms into the ground and raise your head and chest. You can also try to reach the head with your toes.
- Tighten the belly, thighs, and buttocks.
- Face upward and then forward, keeping your arms and neck straight.
- You can hiss when breathing out to lengthen the exhale, quiet your mind, and balance the nervous system. Hissing also keeps the kids entertained.
- Rest your cheek on one side to relax your lower back.
Since the heart is above the head in this position, you enjoy the benefits of yoga inversions without trying too hard.
This pose also stimulates abdominal organs to aid digestion. Because it stretches the legs and shoulders, you can use the bridge pose to mitigate the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Additionally, the position expands the chest to increase lung capacity and combat respiratory conditions like asthma.
How to Execute
- After lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the ground, pointing your toes forward.
- With your knees hip-distance apart, straighten your arms and rest the palms on the ground.
- Raise your hips, ensuring not to squeeze your glutes.
- Roll the shoulders backward, clasping your hands and stretching your arms below the pelvis.
- Stretch your arms as far as possible, pushing the forearms into the ground. Extend the knuckles toward the heels. Ensure your thighs are parallel to your feet. What’s more, don’t drop your knees or roll to your feet’ outer edges.
- Distribute your weight across the four corners of your two feet and align your tailbone to your knees. Hold the position for a while.
- To release this yoga for kids pose, separate your hands and put them on the ground palms down. Lower your spine as you exhale and drop your knees together. Stay away from this pose if you or your kids are healing from shoulder or neck injuries.
This yoga pose for kids increases physical awareness. For instance, you can ask your child to be conscious of their feet, toes, hands, and fingers as they maintain this position.
This yoga pose for kids also increases calmness. By encouraging slow, deeper breaths, you lower your kid’s heart rate and relieve anxiety.
Your child also develops concentration for other tasks outside yoga. Again, you can use this pose to correct your kid’s posture.
By aligning the body, you prevent injury and joint wear and tear. For proper alignment, ask your kid to picture a silver thread passing through the body’s center and pulling them up from the head.
How to Execute
- Stand upright, with the feet hip-distance apart. You can picture your feet connecting to the earth to make you as steady as a mountain. You can shift until you feel an even distribution of your weight on the feet.
- Drop your arms to the sides
- Bending your elbows slightly, face your palms forward and space your fingers.
- Tilt your head upward slightly to extend the spine.
- Inhale and exhale and be confident in your strength.
- Feel free to try different arm positions. For instance, you can put your hands together near the chest to increase room for lifting your chest. Putting your arms overhead also opens the shoulders to relieve shoulder and neck tension.
This pose fits the description of yoga for kids and parents. First off, this position stretches back muscles to restore your child’s physical health after sitting for too long.
The cat pose also strengthens core muscles for better standing and sitting postures. Furthermore, this pose enhances your kid’s visual skills.
Your kid uses their distance vision when scanning the room and their near vision when looking at their hands after arching. These eye movements enhance binocular vision to help your kids read and write better.
How to Execute
- Get down on all fours.
- With knees below the hips and shoulders perpendicular to the ground, face the floor and adjust your neck to a neutral position.
- When you breathe out, round the spine upward, maintaining knee and shoulder positions.
- Drop your head, suck your tummy in, and pull your chin to the chest.
- Breathe in and assume a neutral position.
Unlike adults who learn faster, introducing yoga for kids requires a specialized approach. You need to be patient with your kids if you want them to master yoga and reap its benefits. For starters, make yoga fun for kids.
You can narrate stories during yoga, sing, or hold the sessions outdoors. Likewise, organize your class to accustom the kids to a routine.
But don’t shy away from being spontaneous. Kids will look forward to the sessions if new things are happening.
Moreover, don’t rush the children. Go at their pace, making sure to congratulate them for even the slightest progress. Which yoga poses are good for kids? Share your yoga tips for kids in the comments.
Author’s Bio: Rachel Hudson is a journalist and a blogger living in California and writing articles for different websites since 2015. She has a degree in medicine; hence she is covering everything related to health, wellness, etc., including motherhood and breastfeeding.