11 benefits of yoga for kids.
Soccer, netball and swimming are standard after-school sporting pursuits for many Aussie families. But have you thought about introducing your kids to yoga?
Yoga, an ancient art blending awareness of body, mind and breath is not just for grown-ups. It’s a fun and healthy activity for kids, too. With a long list of benefits from building physical strength to managing stress, we reckon it’s time to add yoga to the mix. (Oh, and best of all, it’s FUN!)
Discover 11 awesome ways yoga benefits kids:
Grows strong, flexible bodies.
Flowing yoga sequences increase heart and breathing rates, and stretch developing muscles. Add in poses that involve holding your own body weight and you have all the ingredients to help build physical fitness, strength and suppleness.
During a sequence, many yoga poses are performed on one side of the body, then the other. This helps kids learn their lefts from their rights, and ensures both sides of the body are worked equally.
A well-designed kids yoga class moves between active (and often loud!) sequences and still, quiet poses. This offers an opportunity for junior yogis to refine their self-control and focus, along with an ability to follow instructions.
Little people get ‘stressed-out’ just like us. Juggling school, friends, family and after-school activities can take a toll on their mental health. Yoga shows kids how to slow down to recognise their stress triggers, and introduces simple techniques using body, breath and mind to move from stress to calm.
Harnesses imagination and creativity.
Full of storytelling, role-play and games, kids get to flex their imaginations during yoga. (Think a room full of roaring lions, jumping frogs or quiet mice!) The final relaxation (savasana) often involves a visualisation exercise where kids can star in their own fantasy adventure. Some classes may also touch on yogic philosophy, asking participants to ponder ethical issues, and come up with creative solutions to everyday scenarios.
At a kids yoga class, everyone is on a level playing field - there are no points to keep or goals to score. When winning is not the aim of the game, the value of doing your best simply for personal satisfaction and that of the whole group becomes more important. Of course, this is a great lesson for all of us, and it may particularly give kids who see themselves as less ‘sporty’ a wonderful opportunity to shine.
Fosters self awareness.
Through a playful environment and skillful instruction, kids get to know their physical body as it moves and grooves its way through class. They also learn about bodily functions such as breathing, digestion, plus the role of emotions.
As adults, many of us struggle to know how to relax, and it’s a skill desperately needed for good health! In a session, kids experience a variety of relaxation techniques designed to calm the physical body and mind, equipping them with valuable skills for now and in the future.
Boosts self esteem.
Kids that can soar in eagle pose or hold a tricky balance simply beam with pride! This precious feeling of achievement can last well after class has finished and overflow into other activities.
With less rules than formal sports activities, kids get to be kids - playing, moving, creating and laughing their way through class - it’s FUN!
Yoga is a fantastic activity to share as a family too!
Kids love seeing Mum and Dad having fun while moving and bending right beside them in classes designed specifically for families. These classes provide a wonderful opportunity to build family connections, and to model the importance of self-care, creativity and slowing down - away from the lure of screens and devices. Family roles can dissolve a little in a yoga class too - just because Dad is the biggest might not always mean he’s the most flexible or steadiest in a balance pose, for example. Plus, it’s often the kids who are teaching the big people a thing or two about yoga’s key principles such as patience and surrender, within a sequence. Check out family classes at your local studio, or grab some yoga cards to inspire a DIY sequence at your place.
Bonus benefits (for you!)
- You don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment for kids yoga. Most studios will supply a yoga mat. Comfy shorts, track pants or leggings and a t-shirt make for suitable attire.
- Most classes are open to both boys and girls and held in age groupings - you may be able to enroll more than one child in the same class!
- Some studios run Family Yoga classes, where you can all practice together.
Ready to find a kids yoga class?
Check out the timetable at your local yoga studio. Some schools offer yoga, or you could even hire an instructor to come to your home. A kids yoga mat, yoga DVD or card deck makes yoga at home easy and accessible too.
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