The benefits of yoga for kids
There’s a lot more to yoga than just doing a few stretches. It can improve all sorts of aspects of your child’s life, giving them more confidence and relieving stress. Let’s take a closer look.
Yoga is an ever-growing activity that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. The more research that is done, the more benefits are discovered. Some of these are more obvious than others but it’s amazing how yoga can affect and improve so many different aspects of our lives. It’s a truly holistic pursuit that will have a positive impact on your child and they will most likely enjoy it too!
WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT YOGA?
Flexibility and strength
I’ll admit it, we all know that yoga improves flexibility. This is even more true when applied to children though. It has been shown to help them with their motor abilities, strength and balance. Strength is something that’s not as often linked to yoga but if you’ve ever tried it, you’ll know how demanding it can be! The combination of flexibility and strength will give your little one a great base for all of their other activities and give them a little more confidence when trying a new activity.
Mental health is one of the main issues affecting young people today. There is so much going on in the world, we still don’t fully understand the effects of social media on our little ones and it can generally be tough being a young person!
Yoga is a perfect tool to counteract many of the struggles that your child may be having. Research has shown that children who regularly do yoga have better self-esteem and less mood-swings, as well as helping them to cope in times of heightened stress or anxiety.
So many of the issues that our children experience arise from a lack of mind-body connection. Studies have shown that this disconnection is common in many physical and emotional conditions including obesity, difficulty concentrating and anger management problems.
Yoga guides children to focus their mind and to feel their body as it moves through the poses. This forges the connection between their mind and body and the effects will last long after the yoga session is over.
Relaxation is an often overlooked aspect of life. There is such a focus on productivity from all sides that sometimes we all forget to relax. The same goes with our kids. It’s important for us to encourage them to relax regularly. Yoga is a fantastic way to help children to relax and de-stress. It will help them to feel grounded, in the moment and forget about any unimportant stresses of the day.
This is definitely a surprising one and more studies need to be done, but some signs have suggested that regular yoga can boost immunity! It seems that it helps to reduce inflammation and also enables the immune system to better fight off infection. Yet another reason to encourage your little one to get involved!
Concentration is something that all children struggle with from time to time. Everything is so new, interesting and distracting that it can be hard to focus on just one thing! Teachers in schools that have trialed yoga programs have reported dramatically positive changes in the students’ abilities to concentrate. Yoga demands that your child focuses on exactly what they’re doing in the moment. With this training your child will be able to apply this skill to everything else.
Behaviour and academic performance
Yoga has been shown to have a remarkable impact on children’s behaviour. Those who struggle with their behaviour have found things a little more manageable and behaved better after regular yoga practice. This transfers over to academic performance too, with these kids able to take part in class and show their ability. Yoga has been shown to improve your little one’s memory too!
Sleep is something we all could do with a little more of, including our children. With the presence of screens in almost every part of our children’s lives, more and more kids are suffering from difficulty sleeping. Recent studies have shown that a regular yoga habit can help your child to clear their mind and finally get a good night’s sleep.
Confidence and self-esteem
Confidence and self-esteem are key for your child to navigate their way through the world on the way to becoming the best version of themselves. Children who do yoga regularly show more self-belief and confidence in their ability, as they begin to learn the poses and improve their ability. Due to this and its de-stressing powers, yoga can help children on their way to achieving better self-esteem.
Yoga is truly for everyone. It doesn’t matter what your fitness level is, what your ability is, or what resources you have. You can start by setting your child up with a simple yoga YouTube video walking through gentle poses that they will be able to do. As they improve, you can increase the difficulty and watch them flourish!
MAKE A GAME OF IT
Yoga games are a clever way to introduce your child to yoga, especially if they’re hesitant to try a traditional yoga session. Here are a few examples to try out with your little one.
Follow the leader
Follow The Leader is a popular game that works great with a yoga twist! Nominate a leader and get everyone else in the group to line up behind them. The leader is to walk around the play area, stopping regularly to perform whatever yoga pose they want.
Everyone following must try to copy this yoga pose. Encourage children not to worry if there are some poses they can’t do and remember that there are no winners or losers here. Give everyone a chance to be the leader so that they can choose what poses to do. Keep it light, playful and maybe even put some music on.
Yogi Says is a twist on the classic Simon Says. As with Follow The Leader, nominate a child as the yogi to start leading the game. This can be done by drawing names from a hat or any other way you choose. The yogi will direct the others through yoga poses by saying, “yogi says…down dog!” etc. They can then try to catch the others out by calling out a pose without first saying “yogi says”.
If anyone tries the pose without the yogi saying “yogi says”, then they’re out for that round. The round will be over when there’s only one child left and then they get to be the yogi for the next round! Don’t let anyone feel bad if they get knocked out of the game for a round. Encourage them that they’ll be back in for the next round and that it’s not a competition.
Get a few big, foam dice and write different yoga poses on each side. You can choose how many poses to include, knowing that you can have six poses on each of the dice. When playing in a group, let the children take turns rolling the dice and seeing what pose they have to attempt. Don’t be afraid to get involved!
Yoga Statues can be a very exciting game, resulting in lots of suspense and giggles! Arrange the children in a wide circle around you. You are to play ‘the watcher’. Start by covering your eyes. The children are to start doing yoga poses and changing from pose to pose regularly. Whenever you choose, you should dramatically uncover your eyes and turn all around the circle, looking at everybody.
As soon as you open your eyes, the children should freeze and become a yoga statue, holding whatever pose they’re in. You can play along in whatever character you like, patrolling around the circle as a scary or silly inspector, suspicious of or confused by these yoga statues. Prepare yourself for a hilarious scene as the kids try their best to stay in their poses and then cover your eyes again to give them a break. Repeat this as many times as you want and everyone will be thoroughly entertained!
Yoga is one of the most amazing pastimes to get your child involved in. It has countless benefits, and with a few games, it can be loads of fun! Start by including it once a week in the family routine and watch as your little one experiences all of the physical, emotional and social aspects of this wonderful activity.