Whether or not you are one of the 20 plus million Americans who are yoga practitioners, you might already know some of the benefits of yoga: increased flexibility and strength, decreased stress, increased ability to focus and feel peaceful and calm. What you might not be aware of is that the practice of yoga can be just as beneficial for children as for adults. Children and young as infants and toddlers can do yoga with a little assistance. School age groups benefit from yoga as well as teenagers.
All aspects of yoga are important for children, including meditation. The difference between yoga for children and yoga for adults is the way in which it is presented. Children have shorter attention spans than adults; therefore, class lengths and activities are usually shorter for children. Relaxation and meditation are more structured and shorter.
]A children’s yoga teacher instructs the names of the poses in a way that children can understand, but often keeping them consistent with the traditional names.[/pullquote]It’s also important to remember that children are not as familiar with concepts we adults take for granted. A child may not know right from left, or they might get confused with Sanskrit or even English names for poses. A children’s yoga teacher instructs the names of the poses in a way that children can understand, but often keeping them consistent with the traditional names.
Children are often more flexible than adults, and their bodies are still growing. Children’s body awareness is also still developing. The instructor gives verbal, gestural, and physical alignment cues so children don’t hurt themselves and so they can develop body awareness that will help them later in life. Children are still learning correct social behavior. It is important to have rules and boundaries so they can feel safe and learn socially.
Yoga teachings can also be a way to help children develop morals and ethics early in life. Children often have wild imaginations and love stories, songs, and games. To make yoga more motivating and interactive for children, it can include fun activities for the purpose of enjoying themselves and delighting in the company of other little yogis.
]To make yoga more motivating and interactive for children, it can include fun activities for the purpose of enjoying themselves and delighting in the company of other little yogis.[/pullquote]
Sometimes children are just not interested in yoga and it is important not to push them. But yoga can sure be tempting if it involves games and a colorful mat! After some time, and also by watching their parents’ practices and behaviors, children will come to yoga of their own accord.
I have been a yoga teacher for 3 years, and a children and family yoga teacher for 8 months. It has been a blessing to see children grow and blossom in yoga, and to know that the skills they learn in yoga can transfer to school and home.
Here at The Breathing Room, your children have the opportunity to practice yoga at our Summer Fun Camp for ages 6 through 12 with Suzy McCalley (June 23-27 and July 28-August 1, 8:30 am-2:00 pm) and through our Teen Yoga Series (June 24-July 31, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:00-4:30 pm) with Meghan Prior. We hope you or the young people in your life can join the fun!
Sara Breyfogle is a yoga teacher, licensed music therapist and music teacher at The Breathing Room. Visit Sara’s website: musictherapyofthetriad.com. If your child is interested in attending The Breathing Room’s Summer Fun Camp for Kids, you may sign your children up here by this Friday, June 20 for the first session and here by Friday July 25 for the second session. The Teen Yoga Series begins June 24, and you may sign up teens here.