The Benefits of Yoga for Children
The benefits of yoga are now widely understood and many family look forward to a weekly class to relax and rejuvenate. But what about yoga for children?
Yoga is not an age-specific practice and it has much to offer to children, both physically and emotionally. Yoga classes are now offered more frequently to tiny tots and attending a class is a great way to find out more about it. Early learning centres often incorporate a weekly yoga class with a visiting yoga teacher. If they don’t already, it may be worth suggesting the idea. In the meantime, let’s have a look at how yoga can benefit your little one.
Stretch and Hold
Stretching the body is one of the key benefits of yoga. Stress accumulates in our bodies and stays there until we move it. Stretching activates and oxygenates our muscles and moves things along. Holding poses will build core body strength as well as balancing the musculoskeletal system, which in turn supports joints.
Yoga is about balance, both emotionally and physically. Many poses cannot be successfully held without a strong centre of gravity. Children are naturally in tune with their bodies and they’re able to find this centre of gravity quite easily. The skills involved in maintaining balance will develop concentration as well as physical strength and co-ordination.
Yoga may look like a peaceful practice but this doesn’t mean the body isn’t working. Yoga poses were designed to actively tone the nervous, immune, lymphatic and circulatory systems. Spinal twists can have a calming effect on nerves while many common yoga stretches will stimulate lymphatic drainage.
The practice of yoga is inextricably linked to the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply becoming aware of what is happening around you in a particular moment in time and seeing yourself objectively for a moment. While cultivating mindfulness can take a lifetime, children are surprisingly receptive to this seemingly abstract practice. Encouraging children to try this during a yoga class will build the resources required to navigate external stressors in life.
Many Yoga poses are named after animals and this allows children to connect with the theatrical aspect of the practice. The cobra, tree, and dog pose mirror the way these things behave in the world and can help children connect with the pose. Yoga teachers can have fun with this, incorporating stories into the class. This also helps children to remember the poses.
Connection to Others and to Culture
Learning about world cultures is a valued part of early learning curriculums. Food, stories, music and art are all explored. Yoga introduces aspects of the ancient Indian culture to children and allows them to engage with this bright calm and compassionate practice. Engaging with Yoga teaches children the importance of ritual, a quiet mind, respectful listening, and breath.
If you would like to find out more about yoga classes for your little one, or for information on Mindarie Keys Early Learning School, contact us today.