Kids take a break from video games, school pressures and the commotion of daily life when they step into the yoga studio. The benefits that children gain from yoga are unlimited. Children learn body awareness through movement in a non-competitive atmosphere while building flexibility, balance and concentration. In addition, practicing yoga at an early age fosters self-esteem, cooperation and relaxation, all of which are essential to health and well-being throughout a lifetime.
Children practice yoga in their own unique way. Yoga for kids is not about holding the perfect pose or getting a workout. Rather, it is about exploring movement, breath and interaction with peers while developing awareness of the body. Children explore yoga poses through games, literacy and storytelling, which engage imagination and creativity.
In the Tree Pose, for example, older children challenge themselves to hold this balancing pose while imagining they are sending roots into the earth and sprouting leaves. Preschoolers love to experience this pose by balancing stuffed animals on their head and joining hands to create a forest. In kid’s yoga, the possibilities for exploration are endless.
Though yoga for kids looks different than adult yoga, breathing is still essential. Even very young children can learn breathing techniques such as Balloon Breath as they inhale deeply while circling their arms overhead to blow up their balloon. Learning to breathe deeply is an important technique for managing stress off the mat as well. Avery, age 9, reports that, “When I’m at home and I need to breathe, I do Breath of Joy.”
Just like adults, children enjoy relaxation at the end of class. Learning to still the body and quiet the mind is another important benefit that children gain from the practice of yoga. Many children love the comfort of being wrapped in a blanket for Burrito Pose, and others choose to simply lie on their backs. A simple guided story such as a trip to the beach to feed the sea gulls allows a child to remain calm and peaceful during relaxation.
“When you leave a yoga class you just feel better than you did when you came in,” 10-year-old Katie explains.
Yoga with children offers many possibilities to explore and share good times. It also lays the foundation for a lifelong practice that will continue to deepen.