Much has been said and written about the benefits of yoga, how it helps reduce anxiety and stress, relieves depression and increases energy level and brings overall peace and well being of the body. But how many of us think of the benefits that this ancient eastern art holds for kids?
We know how children are stressed out about grades, homework, peer pressure, tuitions, game practices and busy after school schedules. There is a constant stimulus from multimedia. The kids are wired through smart phones, pS3, Wii, i-pads and what not. Just like adults, they go through similar stress levels. Don’t you ever think they need to pause and just be kids?
I feel our kids are busier than we are as they have all sorts of schedules from play-dates to practices. When it comes to health and fitness for our children, we focus on a sport and outdoor play, gymnastics and other physical activities. As adults we know that Yoga is a form of exercise that works for grownups and I think it works for kids as well.
Yoga as an exercise for kids
The 2005 USDA and Department of Health and Human Services guidelines recommend that all children two years and older should get sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. Exercise should include the components of endurance, strength, and flexibility, and should involve both structured and free play. Yoga best fits the recommendations given above.
Yoga reduces mental stress, improves mood, energy, and sleep, and creates an overall sense of well-being by increasing blood flow to the brain and improving metabolism. It can provide distraction from emotional distress, help children tune into their body, and enhance the sense of physical strength, endurance, mastery, and confidence. It is one of the best exercises which is noncompetitive and can be practiced at one’s own pace.
What is Kids’ Yoga?
Kids yoga is an enriching experience which integrates many sensory props, relaxing music, dance movements, drawing and painting, origami, fun games, and stories from all over the world. These all integrate into a very peaceful, calm yet an interesting world in kids mind where they can go and be in stress or distraught. Yoga gives them the inner strength through poses, postures, breathing techniques and meditation.
Yoga as aTherapy for Kids
Aggression, stress, anger, moods, fits, attitude, bullying, sibling rivalry, disrespect, attention disorder emotional distress, depression are just few of the issues that can be cured by Yoga in kids. Yoga can provide many more benefits besides the advantages of less stress and anxiety on your child. Yoga has been shown to help out hyperactive children and those with attention deficit disorder. These children need lots of movement. Practicing yoga can help them focus those impulses in a more positive direction.
Partner poses will help your child develop trust if they are having issues. By working together with another child on a pose, your child will develop team skills. This will help them later in life when they have to work well with others. Yoga will help your child relax and sleep better at night, especially if they do visualization exercises while they are relaxing.
Yoga Postures for Kids
Few beneficial asanas for kids are mountain pose , which builds, strength , balance and posture; cat and cow pose , makes spine supine; downward dog makes the blood flow to head and helps digestion, warrior pose 2 makes them focus and balance, cobra pose which makes their hands, and shoulders strong with a flexible spine. Lion pose is another good pose for kids as it releases tension in the face, neck and chest, tones the face and throat, activates the immune glands of the lymph nodes and tonsils, and strengthens the lungs.
Relaxing in child’s pose and mummy (corpse pose) is beneficial after a set of poses for kids. There are many breathing techniques, belly breathing, sun and moon, bumble bee and elevator breathing which increase the capacity of lungs to absorb more oxygen and breathe effectively. Young kids can be initiated towards meditation through visualization, pretending and focusing on breath.
Yoga as Key to Success for Kids
Learning to be self reliant, strong in adversity, social skills and having a healthy lifestyle and body are essential ingredients of success today. There are so many stressful situations that our children face today in comparison to our generations. Kids need a way to manage all of their stress and anxiety. It is not healthy for a child to feel so much anxiety over any given situation. They need to be able to manage their stress so that they are free to be the kid that they are. Yoga can provide them with the tools and techniques to be themselves.
I consider Yoga as a lifetime gift that we can give our kids which they might not appreciate immediately but as they grow and become stronger mentally and physically, they would realize and appreciate your effort as parents to encourage and enroll them into Yoga!