Now that I am currently teaching some new yoga classes (which have been so much fun!) I thought it would be helpful to write about WHY people are choosing to sign their children up for yoga classes, and WHAT they are getting out of it. There’s definitely been a surge in popularity with yoga; there’s probably more types of yoga than there are flavors of ice cream now! And on top of it, now there’s infant, toddler, children’s, and teen yoga. Whew!
Seriously though, people ask me all the time if kids yoga classes are similar to adult classes. “How do you get kids to sit still for so long?” I explain that depending on the ages of the kids, there is A LOT of movement, music, and games within each class to get kids interested in focusing on their bodies and their BREATH. As kids get older (even Pre-K ages) shorter stints of quiet focus can be added for them to establish peace and awareness within their bodies and minds. However, many children struggle with “being quiet”, and that is OKAY. We are so lucky to live during a time when there is so much research and education about working with children.
If you came to a children’s yoga class you’d see that the point of teaching yoga to children isn’t about “being quiet” or instructing them about every benefit they are gaining within their bodies while doing a certain pose. In my opinion, when a child expresses pleasure or happiness about something they have done that day, that’s where the magic is. It’s more valuable when you experience something, than just being told about it. When you feel like you are surrounded by kind people, and experience joy in the moment… there are no words anyone can use to explain how that might feel… you just have to feel it… and let yourself be.
Here is a brief list of the benefits of yoga for children (there really are so many more benefits):
Improves focus and concentration
Increases confidence and self-esteem
Strengthens body physically and mentally
Improves balance, coordination and flexibility
Improves quality of sleep and can provide support for troubled sleepers
Teaches principles of respect, kindness, trust, giving, helping others, etc.
Provides a safe outlet to role play about peer pressure, bullying, body image, etc.
Builds upon social skills with peers and family members
Allows for quality bonding time with family, friends, and quiet-time for oneself
Provides children and families tools to help slow down, relax, and also HAVE FUN together!
Click HERE for a great article from PBS about Kids Yoga!
Here is a short quote from “The Whole-Brain Child” written by Daniel Siegel, M.D. explaining the correlation between physical movement, breathing and overall well-being.
“Research shows that when we change our physical state- through movement or relaxation, for example- we can change our emotional state. Try smiling for a minute- it can make you feel happier; quick, shallow breaths accompany anxiety, and if you take a slow, deep breath, you’ll likely feel calmer. (You can try these little exercises with your child to teach her how her body affects how she feels)”.
The Founder of ChildLight Yoga, Lisa Flynn (who I took my children’s yoga training with) wrote a great article about how yoga helps families connect with each other.