5 Reasons Why Yoga For kids Is Important
Yoga is the fountain of youth. You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.~ Bob Harper (Tweet this)
Yoga is becoming increasingly popular around the world. More people have an understanding of the benefits it brings to its practitioners, and given that there are so many variations there is a type of yoga for everyone, but what about kids? Is yoga for kids something we should even consider teaching—especially at a young age? Are there preferable ways to get children interested in this discipline? Is there any benefit of getting kids into Yoga? The answers to all of these are a huge yes!
Why is yoga important for kids?
As a yoga enthusiast myself I don’t need much convincing about it being healthy. But, why should I bother trying it out on my child? Isn’t it just the same for him to do any other type of physical activity, especially one that doesn’t seem to require as much attention as yoga? Well, it is precisely the “attention” we must give it, that makes yoga for kids so ideal. In fact, it’s the basis for the entire calming nature of yoga. That attention, is really the focus on calm.
1. Physical activity
It is easier to form healthy habits at an earlier age than trying to modify them later, so starting children in yoga earlier in life will increase their chances of adopting it as a permanent (and even preferred) activity over time. Technology has brought with it a more sedentary life, and children are not immune. It is therefore extremely important to encourage physical activity. Yoga for kids has the advantage of being very adaptable. Even children that dislike or have difficulties in more active sports can benefit from it.
2. Calming of the mind
We also need to remember that yoga has not only physical components but also mental ones. Young children will start by focusing only on the physical aspects but over time and almost in an unconscious manner, yoga has a calming and relaxing effect over their minds as well. By the time they can understand more about meditation they will find it effortless.
3. Increases concentration
When a child practices yoga he tends to place his eyes on different parts of the body in order to achieve the asana. This action in itself increases concentration and develops the capacity of the brain to focus. This will naturally improve other areas of the child’s life (like academics) without the need for outside pressure. Clarity of mind is achieved through concentration and therefore, intellectually, the children can reap the benefits of yoga.
4. Proper breathing
Another beneficial “side effect” of yoga for kids is the development of their lungs and proper breathing.
A young child does not need to be instructed on how to breathe, they find the proper and natural rhythm while doing the asana, while an adult might need more coaching because we somehow have become disconnected from our natural physicality. With yogic breathing the lungs increase their oxygen intake and children tend to keep this capacity throughout life.
Yoga can also help children be more confident and strengthen their willpower. When learning the different positions and while perfecting them over time children learn that there is merit in trying and that perseverance is key to achieving goals. This is something most people need more of in this modern “instant reward” era.
Just think of all the instances where, with a push of a button, you get something (like feedback on your latest selfie)! We all need to strengthen our inner will and learn to stick to what we want even if we have to fall (literally) and pick ourselves up again and again.
And as if all of this was not enough, we also cannot forget the overall long term health benefits that yoga can bring to children. The circulatory system is stimulated and it helps encourage blood flow to areas of the body that are further from the heart. This purifies the system and encourages healthier cells. Yoga for kids could therefore potentially improve (or prevent altogether) many illnesses.
When is the right time to start yoga for kids?
So now that we know that yoga for kids is a great idea, when and how should we start teaching it to them?
It is important to have in consideration that the body of a very young child has different proportions than that of an adult and therefore some asanas might need to be modified or postponed for a later time. Also, children need to be able to understand and be willing to follow certain directions.
For most children, a good age to introduce them to yoga is around 7 years old. They are generally excited about doing things they see you do, and they are starting to be more interested in socializing which can help in a class setup as well.
The best way to start children at yoga is to do it through play.
There are game ideas online in which the child would take up the different positions and start to familiarize themselves with the asanas. You can also use stories or choreography to music. After you understand the idea behind how the games and the stories work, you can even create your own together!
Yoga for kids gives them the opportunity to create a healthier, calmer, and happier life for themselves. It’s a gift I found on my own when I was older and a gift that I will not wait long to share with my son.
Exercises are like prose, whereas yoga is the poetry of movements. Once you understand the grammar of yoga; you can write your poetry of movements.” ~ Amit Ray (Tweet this)