Yoga, the 5,000-year old art of fusing the body and mind is not just transforming adults today. Because of its amazing benefits, the rage of yoga for children is spreading rapidly around the world.
As a master kids’ yoga teacher for over 15 years, I have personally witnessed how this ancient practice continuously supports children in their classrooms, homes, sports and relationships. I have observed and interacted with kids of various ages around the world, and all have proven the same thing: the profound power of Yoga is truly a gift that keeps on giving!
I could list hundreds of benefits, but here are my top 10 reasons why yoga is awesome for kids.
- Maintains Flexibility & Strengthens Growing Bodies. Children are born with an innate flexibility and Yoga poses help to prolong this gift. Poses like Warrior 1 & 2 aid in developing strength in their growing muscles and bodies. Strength and flexibility allow for fewer injuries – especially when kids are engaged in sports, playground activity, and rough and tumbling.
- Enhances Concentration. In kids yoga classes, some poses are fast moving while others are slower paced. This allows children to learn self-control, enhancing their focus and awareness. Moving from Flying Bird Pose (Warrior 3) to balancing in Tree Pose takes great attention – a skill that is essential in most learning environments.
- Increases Self-esteem. When a child displays great strength, focus, and flexibility in Yoga, it does wonders for their confidence. A successful Crow Pose yields poise & power, which leads them to believe in and pursue their true abilities. Yoga success grants children persistence to achieve greatness as they embark on all of life’s adventures.
- Teaches Present Moment Awareness. Yoga philosophy teaches present moment awareness because when our mind is thinking about the past or future, we are missing the most valuable now. When children are engaged, focused, having fun and following a yoga lesson, they are in the present moment. In addition, a good quality children’s yoga teacher will teach them about this valuable tool so they can carry it throughout their life.
- Cultivates a Peaceful, Relaxed State of Body & Mind. All yoga classes conclude with a quiet time, also known as Deep Relaxation. Different from napping, this is an all-time favorite for yoginis of all ages. Called the “Do Nothing Pose” children relish in lying on their backs in quiet, peaceful stillness, sometimes with music & a guided visualization, foot massage and/or an herbal eye pillow. Even if just for 3 minutes, children learn to understand the importance of this peace and they carry it with them out into their lives.
- Gives Tools for Stress Management. Practicing Yoga provides kids an immediate outlet to reduce stress in a safe and nurturing environment. It is a physical exercise that produces happy endorphins. While breathing exercises slow down the heart rate, relaxation techniques are powerful sources for calming the mind and the body. Yoga teaches non-judgment & non-competition towards oneself and others. These are tools that a child can carry into any difficult life situation.
- Sparks Creativity in Ripe Imaginations. Kid’s yoga classes often infuse themes that are fun and engaging like ‘A Trip to the Beach’ or ‘Jungle Safari.’ When children are allowed the opportunity make up their own yoga poses to fit with the theme and express their experiences throughout the class, it inspires them to be free, creative and self-expressive. Not only is this playful and fun for them, but it invites kids to tap into their own creativity and use their boundless imaginations without judgment.
- Encourages Kind Peer & Social Interactions. Yoga teaches children that we are all the same inside, despite our outward appearance, race or religion. We all have bodies that function, hearts that love, and feelings that feel. Partner Yoga Poses allow children to fully understand this concept of oneness by working together. Yoga inspires kids to be kind, patient, accepting and empathetic with themselves and their peers.
- Enhances Body Awareness. Yoga poses vary from balancing, strengthening, twisting, back bending and inverting. All these poses have the ability to teach a child about their body. Yoga teaches children to listen to where in their bodies they feel a movement and express how it makes them feel when they are complete. Body awareness is an invaluable tool for all stages and ages of life.
- Teaches Discipline & Responsibility. Yoga is not a destination, it is a journey of a lifetime, which takes discipline. Ideally when children learn at a young age the benefit of a committed practice, it ripples out into their everyday life activities, relationships and responsibilities. When they learn that Yoga takes practice versus an immediate accomplishment, they too learn and accept that life is a path with good days, bad ones and everything in between.
While these are just 10 of the amazing benefits that kids reap from doing Yoga, there are so many more. What gifts have you seen kids getting from Yoga?
About the Author:
Jodi Beth Komitor, MA RYT is the creator of Next Generation Yoga. Check out her Gaiam Kids Yoga Videos, and join her for upcoming Kids Yoga teacher trainings in San Francisco on October 9-12, 2015 Teacher Training for 2-7 yr. olds and October 13-15, 2015 Teacher Training for 8-13 yr. olds.