The Benefits of Yoga for Kids

Yoga is such a great lifestyle – just think about it, we get so many different benefits from our practice: deep and healthy breathing, flexibility, strengthening our muscles and tendons, toning our nervous system, regulating our digestive system, increasing our circulation, lubricating our joints, relieving stress and anxiety, learning patience with ourselves and the world, and even learning self acceptance. The benefits are seemingly endless. Now think about what your life would be like if we had learned or received all of this when we were younger?  How might our lives be different if as a kid we learned how to deal with stress? Stress and anxiety are the cause of a number of health problems, and even soreness in our muscles.  If we learn yoga, and what it teaches us about our lives and our bodies, we can live happier, healthier lives. Being a kid can be stressful, there are a lot of situations where we are scared, sad, nervous or stressed, times when we are embarrassed or scared to fail in front of our peers. Yoga can help with all of these times and emotions.

As children we learn many life lessons. These life lessons we carry with us, they effect of our behavior and our conditioned responses to different situations. If you learned the wonderful skills of pranayama, and how to use them during a stressful situation as a child – every boardroom meeting, every presentation, every test or trial would be a little bit less stressful. We push children into sports so that they can learn to try new things and risk failure in a safe environment where they are surrounded by peers who want them to succeed, and will help pick them up if they fail. As a former high school field hockey coach I have direct experience with this.  As a coach, winning was great, but I was much more concerned with my girls’ experiences on the field.  Were they learning? Were they trying? Were they supportive of each other? It was wonderful to see girls join who were unsure of themselves, and leave us as confident young women. Yoga is a great way to make this all achievable for young children.

Sometimes we get serious about our yoga.  We find ourselves in a class with someone who may giggle if they fall out of a pose, or if their hip pops (like me). Or, sometimes we find an instructor who is a little too conversational for our liking; but we need to remind ourselves that it is not written anywhere that yoga has to be serious.  Yoga with children inspires giggles, shouts of “TaDa!!” and generates smiles all around.  It is the perfect practice for anyone of any age.  Just look at My Yoga Online’s founders’ little one teaching a class at age two! Personally, I teach my two nieces, and the two little ones that I nanny for, and they all love it.  Whether they have their own mat like The Little Yoga Mat, or the Lazy Lizards Yoga Mat that comes complete with stick figure poses designed for kid, or if they use one of your larger mats. Kids will have a blast, all while they learn how to stretch, care for their bodies, and talk to themselves in a positive manner. Patience and perseverance are discovered, all while they maintain the youthful health of their bodies. Can you really ask for anything better than this?

There’s a lot of talk going on right now about the debate over whether yoga should be allowed in schools.  Many people think that there is too much of a religious aspect, and that it should not be allowed.  The important thing to remember here is that yoga is not a religion. Yoga is practiced by people of all faiths around the world. Personally, I am a Catholic and feel that yoga has brought me closer to God and back to my faith. That being said, it is my belief that yoga in schools would be incredibly beneficial, and would really help combat the issue of bullying in schools.

If you are interested in starting a yoga program with your school or an after school yoga program please contact me and I would be more than happy to work with you to draft a proposal and even speak on the children’s behalf.  I also offer children’s yoga classes if you have a group of youngsters that you know that could benefit from this wonderful practice.

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