Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yoga and Kids

Kids in Savasana
My favorite yoga students are little people. I think it is because they are instinctively  drawn to the movement and breath of their bodies without being embarrassed or self conscious of the world around them. I am fortunate enough to be able to teach yoga to kids at my youngest child's school. Despite their differences in ages and abilities, the majority of them seem to have a basic understanding that the combination of movement and breath is a good thing, and one to participate in.
Our kids today are busy and are often expected to live in their parents hurry-up world.  They are asked to sit still and engage all day in the classroom and then often spend their evenings doing lessons or participating in competitive sports.  I am as guilty as every one else at over scheduling my kids.  My argument, every other child is active; I don't want mine to miss out on something....although I admit at times I'm not sure what that something is.
And yet there are arguably benefits to busy and engaged kids. For example, the confidence building that comes with years and years of practice. Also, as my three oldest have each honed their musical skills I have observed that they choose to engage in their musical practice as their own personal de-stress period.  Music in its own art form is for them much like a good yoga practice is for me.....the opportunity to get lost in something beautiful and engage in the mind, body, spirit connection.
My children are fortunate to have the have the opportunity to practice yoga.  My oldest daughter has even begun to come to some of my classes with her friends.  It is such a gift to me to have the opportunity to work with kids, to see them develop body awareness, learn self-control, flexibility and a mind-body connection.  Most of all they learn right away how to take yoga out into the real world. (This is a concept that many adults seem to have such a hard time with).  Kids will tell me that when they are stressed they will pull out their mat and curl up into a child's pose.....the awareness of the necessity of giving your body a break once in while is inherent in kids.
All kids benefits from yoga but interestingly, recent studies on yoga and kids have  confirmed the fact that yoga is very good for the child who struggles with attention disorders.  These children crave movement and sensory/motor stimulus. I have found that specifically addressing kids with these challenges and asking them to transition into a pose that requires thought, movement, and balance gives them confidence and ironically a sense of calmness.  The trick is to get beyond just "doing" the pose and instead to thinking  about what the postures means.  One can grow like a tree, rooting his roots into the earth and feel strong and tall. 
All children benefit from yoga in one way or another. It's a style of learning that is natural for kids. As kinesthetic learners they can transform their understanding of yoga into a value of self health and relaxation. It encourages their self esteem and gives them a base to deal with life's challenges. The understanding of a sense of compassion for their bodies is a great gift to children.

One of my favorite books to to get your preschooler engaged in yoga is : My Daddy is a Pretzel by Baron Baptiste.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I followed you over from MBC- and I'm enjoying your writing! Especially this, my daughters are toddlers and they're already mimicking some om my yoga poses. Every once in a while DD will do a side angle, look up at me, and just laugh and laugh and laugh!

    FYI- what caught my interest over at the MBC was that you said you were a cancer survivor. I write a lot about that over at my blog- this post in particular:

    Stop by some time!


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