We all know that adults experience a lot of stress in their daily lives; what with work, raising the kids, paying bills, maintaining the house...we can go on and on. But what a lot of people (and parents) don't realize is that kids also experience doses of stress every day in the things they do, such as keeping up with school and homework, fitting in and competing with other children, and engaging in sports and other after-school activities.
While of course, we adults are able to find ways to effectively de-stress, kids are less capable to find ways to help them cope better with the challenges they face and the changes they are going through. This is where yoga for kids comes in. The idea of teaching yoga for kids is getting more and more attention as parents and facilitators are starting to see that yoga does indeed have a lot of benefits for kids. If you're on the fence about enrolling your kids in a yoga for beginners class, the following information should help you decide.
Benefits of Yoga for Kids
For adults, yoga is real useful for stress management as well as increasing flexibility and strength, and correcting or improving posture. These benefits apply to kids too, but with a few added perks because of the more creative ways that classes on kids' yoga for beginners are conducted. Here are just a couple of benefits of yoga for kids.
Like yoga for adults, yoga for kids also involves having them do yoga poses and hold the position while they inhale and exhale. Most kids, especially the younger ones, are a lot of times hyper and always moving around and have a short attention span. This causes them to react unfavorably to certain situations, such as throwing tantrums, shouting, and panicking. With yoga, kids will get creative encouragement to slow down, do fun positions, and keep calm while holding these poses.
Improves Focus and Concentration
Kids generally have a short attention span and are easily distracted, which often makes it difficult for them to pay attention in school and in other activities. Enrolling your kids in a yoga for beginners class will teach them to focus and concentrate on learning the poses AND holding them for specified lengths of time.
Builds Self-Esteem and Confidence
A lot of kids have a fear of not being accepted, not having that sense of belonging, and not being good enough to do certain tasks and activities. Enrolling your kids in a yoga for beginners class will help make them feel like they are part of something (almost like a "club," if you will) and it will also encourage interaction with other kids. The poses they do in kids' yoga classes are child-friendly and are easy to do because children are generally highly flexible as compared to adults. When your child is able to do these easy poses, he or she will feel a sense of accomplishment which will build their self-esteem and boost their confidence in their capabilities.
Improves Physical Health
Despite the child-friendly approaches and easy poses taught in kids' yoga classes, the practice of yoga for kids still involves a lot of movement and is thus, still considered as physical exercise. Kids' yoga is no different from yoga for adults in that it also promotes flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination. Having your kids take up yoga is another way to ensure that they get the exercise they need and in a way that they will enjoy.
Other benefits that kids will get from doing yoga include the development of their mental capacities especially in terms of creativity and imagination. Yoga would also teach them to be more aware of their movements and of their surroundings. Yoga classes for kids are also conducted in a relaxing yet fun way, so it would also help them deal with stress. By now you're probably thinking, "so how exactly are these yoga classes for kids conducted?" Here's how.
Approaches Employed in Yoga for Kids
It goes without saying that getting kids to settle down, be calm, and be interested in what the instructor says is not always an easy task. This is why instructors who teach yoga for kids employ creative techniques to get kids to listen and have fun while doing different yoga positions. One way that yogis do this is by evoking creative imagery in describing what to do and how to do yoga positions. This involves using more "creative" names for the poses and using a storytelling type of approach in teaching poses.
Creative Names for Poses
A good example of this is the Yoga Bear Walking pose and movement. This involves having the kids pretend to be a bear on all fours and have them "crawl" around on their hands and feet. To the kids, this just seems like a fun thing to do. But the "grown up" logic behind it is that this movement strengthens the arms, legs, and shoulders, and increases flexibility in the hip joints.
Another example is the Kundalini position called Archer's Pose (Akarna Dhanurasana). This involves standing and facing one side of the room with one arm outstretched and the other arm folded, with the hand right below the jaw - as if holding a bow and arrow. Then the instructor could just tell the kids a good story about having to use a bow and arrow to save a princess from the evil enemies to get the children to understand how to do the pose and hold that position.
'Follow the Leader' Game
This classic game has always been a big hit with kids, and it is often used by instructors to get kids to do the poses properly. Disguising step by step instructions on doing yoga poses as part of a game will encourage the kids to participate and enjoy themselves while learning these different yoga positions.
Some parents worry that their kids will be overworked and pushed to their limits if they are enrolled in a yoga class. It's important to remind parents that the poses and movements involved in kids' yoga classes are a lot different from the ones adults do in classes. While there are some poses common to both (Cobra Pose, Lotus Pose, Mountain Pose, etc.), these are always tailored in such a way that would be fun and easy for the child to do. So if you notice your kids always feeling restless or having trouble keeping up in school and extra-curricular activities, you may want to consider enrolling them in a yoga for kids class where they can have fun, learn, and reap the many benefits of yoga.