Kids’ Yoga classes are popping up all over, and for good reason. Kids have fewer opportunities for exercise or rest during their day and face increasing academic and social pressures at school. Many after school programs, designed to help kids achieve more and more, add to their stress.
Yoga offers kids a chance to slow down and connect with their breath, providing tools to combat the chronic stress and busy-ness that can lead to poor health and emotional challenges.
Want more specifics? Here are 26 Alpha-Benefits of Yoga.
ADHD reduced. Studies of children with attention disorders indicate that when kids are taught meditation, their hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention decrease.
Build balance. Poses that require standing on one leg build core strength and concentration.
Cooperation. Yoga for kids can include games and partner poses that build interpersonal skills.
Decrease stress. Through both movement and mindfulness, yoga helps minimize the strain from academic pressures, media saturation and the fast pace of modern life that can keep kids in a chronic state of high alert.
Empowerment. Yoga poses are tough! A good kids’ yoga class is a safe and nurturing space for kids to try new things.
Fun! If it’s not a part of a kids’ yoga class, you’re in the wrong place. Silly songs, games and an opportunity for laughter should be part of every class.
Gross-Motor Skills. Bend, reach, stretch, lunge, roll. Yoga gets kids moving.
Healthy Choices. Learning to tune into their body and breath helps kids pause before making decisions.
Imagination. Hop like a frog. Fly like a bird. Can you make your body look or feel like a boat?
Joy. Moving, laughing, breathing and working together all increase a child’s happiness.
Kinesthetic awareness. Partner poses in yoga increase kids’ understanding of where they are in space.
Language enrichment. Yoga classes expand a child’s vocabulary through stories and by incorporating the names of body parts, animals and more.
Minimize Medication. Practicing yoga, with an emphasis on meditation skills, has allowed some children to reduce or eliminate their need for attention-deficit drugs.
Non-competitive. Yoga invites children to listen to their own needs and to move in ways that are safe and enjoyable, without comparing themselves to others.
Organs. Exercise and the upright posture emphasized in yoga combat slouching and give your child’s internal organs room to function optimally.
Proprioceptive awareness. Practicing yoga poses improves nervous system function and improves children’s felt-sense of how their body is connected.
Quality Time. Chances are your yogini will want to share yoga and mindfulness practices with you at home, giving you a new way to connect.
Reading Skills. Yoga incorporates rhythm, songs or chanting and movement, all of which build the pathways young children need for future reading success.
Self-esteem. Learning new skills and meeting challenges increase confidence.
Time-Out to Tune-In. Savasana, lying still with eyes closed at the end of class, is often the kids’ favorite part of yoga.
Uplifting. Increased heartrate and respiration have been shown to improve mood.
Visualizations. Exercise the imagination while teaching kids to release negative emotions and cultivate a more positive emotional state.
Wisdom. Even the littlest yogis can begin to develop a connection to their intuition – their wise self that will guide them as they grow.
relaX and have fun. What more do you need, really?
Young and Old. Seek out a family yoga class, where toddlers, older kids, parents and even grandparents are welcome to share in the yoga fun, creating connections and boosting everyone’s health and well-being.
Zzzz…A gentle yoga routine before bed, combined with slow, relaxed breathing helps kids, and their parents, fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
Want more? Here are a few resources to get you moving at home with your little one.
Good Morning Yoga and Good Night Yoga, by Mariam Gates
The ABC’s of Yoga for Kids, by Teresa Power
I am Yoga, by Susan Verde
Little Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga, by Rebecca Whitford and Martina Selway
My Daddy is a Pretzel: Yoga for Parents and Kids, by Baron Baptiste
Next Generation Yoga Teacher
Heather Lee Leap is a Next Generation Yoga Teacher, Infant Massage Instructor and writer. She leads Yoga classes and workshops for children and families in Portland, Oregon. Find her at Wellness & Words or send her an email.