Busy. Busy. Busy. Today’s kids are at the mercy of overworked parents, pressures from school and peers, lessons, sports, and the constant push to excel. It’s no wonder they’re every bit as stressed as adults seem to be. Which is sad, because childhood should be a time of wonder, exploration and and joy.
One way many parents are helping their children decompress and reclaim their inner calm and concentration is through yoga. What they’ve discovered is that children gain wonderful benefits from the practice. At an early age, yoga helps encourage self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that's noncompetitive. As they grow in the practice, children learn to improve their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation – all essentials skills for helping them navigate the challenges in their lives.
Experts cite these additional benefits of yoga for children:
Yoga teaches us about our bodies.
When we practice the physical postures or exercises (called asanas), we learn how to move more freely and with greater ease and awareness. These postures help our bodies become strong and flexible.
Yoga teaches us how to breathe better.
When we breathe deeply and fully (called pranayama) and become more aware, we can bring peacefulness or energy to our bodies.
Yoga teaches us how to use our energy more effectively.
When we practice yoga, we learn how to use the life force energy in our bodies (called prana) to feel more relaxed, focused, or motivated.
Yoga teaches us how to quiet the mind.
When we practice yoga, we learn how to be still. This helps us to listen with attention and make good decisions.
Yoga teaches us about balance.
When we practice yoga, we learn to be more aware about the need for balance in our lives. This could mean equal stretching on the left and right sides of our bodies or making sure we balance our very busy time with equal quiet time and relaxation.
Yoga teaches us to be the “boss” of our bodies.
Yoga teaches us to listen to our bodies by modifying or changing poses that are too hard or cause pain.
Yoga teaches us about taking care of ourselves.
Yoga is a great way to move our bodies and feel healthy. And teaching children how to take care of themselves is one way to show love. As with all forms of exercise, a good yoga practice can mean a good night’s sleep!
Yoga can be a wonderful way to help children de-stress and it’s easy to get started. Many schools are now teaching yoga to young children, and most local yoga studios offer programs for children (and their families). If you decide to teach your children yoga on your own, take advantage of one of the many guides available, and remember to think of yourself as a facilitator rather than a teacher and create an opportunity for everyone to create, express themselves, and grow together.