Building Positive Body Image Through Playful Movements
Yoga for kids is one of today’s fastest-growing specialty styles. Classes for young people, from infants all the way to teenagers, are being taught in yoga studios, schools, and recreation centers around the world as more and more youth advocates or parents learn about the benefits of yoga for the younger set.
Yoga for kids can include brain breaks, breathing exercises, animal yoga poses (asanas), yoga games, yoga stories, singing, and dancing. It emphasizes self-regulation, body awareness, coordination, and stress relief through simple poses and breath work. Kids yoga classes are meant to be fun and engaging.
Meanwhile, as EverydayYoga ambassador Amy Ippoloti and yoga teacher Julie Holly share, “Yoga is all about connecting — with ourselves and with each other. You can utilize this abundance of family time as an opportunity to connect with one another through yoga. Rolling out your mat and inviting your kiddos to see what your yoga practice is all about is a great way to model healthy behavior and engage your children.”
Why Kids Need Yoga
Children usually lead pretty carefree lives. They’re unburdened by the constraints of 9-to-5 jobs, finances, relationships, and health care. But that doesn’t mean their lives are totally stress-free. In fact, kids today are busier than ever. They’ve got full schedules, academic demands, extracurriccular activities, and social obligations. Not to mention potential family stresses, like divorce or illness. All of these examples result in overstimulation and stress.
Yoga is a physical activity children can practice to gain all of the well-known yoga benefits, which include increased strength, flexibility, and relaxation. In addition, they’ll gain life-enhancing skills they can use off the mat, such as positive body image and creative problem-solving. Since they’re naturally curious about their bodies and movement, learning the poses comes easily. Plus, it’s non-competitive and fun! Parents may be happy to learn that yoga can help children increase their ability to focus and hold attention, which can even result in better grades. A little goes a long way – even a short kids yoga video or “mindful minute yoga” can ripple out into positive developmental shifts.
Benefits of yoga classes for children of all ages, during each stage of development.
Yoga for Babies
These classes are done with a parent or guardian. Usually, they are referred to as “Mommy & Me” classes, although daddies and aunties and uncles are typically welcome, too. These classes are geared toward providing the parent (or caregiver) with relaxing movement and time to bond with their baby. Sure, brand-new babies can’t actually practice yoga postures or breath work. That doesn’t mean parents can’t learn some gentle hands-on moves and massage techniques to encourage relaxation and body awareness in the little one. Meanwhile, the time together allows the child and adult to bond and co-regulate.
Yoga for Toddlers
Once children are able to hold themselves upright and move around on their own, they’re ready for yoga! Toddlers are natural yogis, often drawing themselves into yoga poses without any guidance. Their attention spans are quite short, so these classes usually include a myriad of fun extras, including dancing, games, songs, and storytelling, using yoga books, such as the ABCs of Yoga, and incorporating nursery rhymes. Like an adult yoga class, these will end with a relaxation pose like savasana (corpse pose), to encourage peace and stillness in their young minds.
Yoga for Children & Adolescents
As children continue to grow and gain strength and flexibility, yoga can really begin to open up for them. For elementary school children, kids yoga poses often mimic animals (“elephant” pose), plants (“seed” pose), and vehicles (“airplane” pose) to encourage playful learning. The yoga poses help with neuromuscular development, balance, and coordination, which can help reduce the possibility of injuries, especially if they’re playing sports. Yoga for kids can also help build confidence and social ease while learning nonviolence and respect for others, and it encourages an interest in a healthy, fit lifestyle.
Yoga for Teens
Teens who practice yoga gain many physical benefits to help ease their way through hormonal swings and surges. The deep relaxation helps to promote better sleep, while the breath work and flow of poses help to balance energy in general. Yoga also helps teens develop self-discipline and strength of character while reducing the stress and anxiety that may be caused by peer pressure or academic demands.
Nurture Your Children’s Growth
Through yoga, children can exercise, play, and learn about their inner selves. They can undergo a growth process that can result in a new generation of peaceful, confident, and strong young people. No matter if you’re a parent, aunt or uncle, or friend of the family, you can help change a child’s life by guiding them toward the positive path of yoga.
Do you practice yoga with your kids? Let us know in the comments below!
Practyce x EveryDay Yoga Team
August 3, 2022
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