Yoga is an ancient practice that comes from India. In Sanskrit, yoga means "union," according to PBS. When a person practices yoga, the goal is to blend the way the body physically feels with the thoughts of the mind. Parents and young children alike can enjoy and benefit from practicing yoga on a regular basis. The activity not only helps a child get in shape, it can also help him feel calmer.
Benefits of Yoga
One of the main benefits of teaching children to practice yoga is that it also helps them learn to handle stressful situations. Children learn to breathe in a way that calms the body and mind. Yoga also focuses on stretching the muscles, which promotes relaxation as well as flexibility and strength. The poses a child learns in yoga practice also help her become more aware of her body. When a child has more body awareness, she's able to stop doing an activity before she becomes injured. Other benefits of practicing yoga include better concentration and focus as well as an improved sense of balance, both emotional and physical.
Some yoga poses seem designed to appeal to kids. The poses, or asanas, have names such as "snake," "downward facing dog" or "tree." The lion pose can be particularly fun for children because it involves kneeling on the floor, sticking out the tongue and roaring. Butterfly is another fun, relaxing pose for children to try. During butterfly, kids sit on their mats with their legs in front of them. They bring the bottom of their feet together and bend their knees. During the pose, kids should pretend that they are butterflies to help them get the right posture. When doing any pose, asking children to visualize that they are the animal or object named will help them get into it.
Breathing during yoga is slightly different than everyday breathing. Yoga breaths are deep. Kids should feel the air moving down into their lungs as they inhale and back out again as they exhale. A yoga instructor might teach children to breathe with their tummies, pushing their bellies out to expel the last bits of air. Once a child knows how to breathe deeply, he can use deep breathing anytime he feels stressed or uncomfortable, such as during a tough test.
Classes and Equipment
Kids don't need much equipment to try yoga. A mat will make the poses more comfortable and provide grip, but children without a mat can use a beach towel. If the child is taking a yoga class, the studio might have mats available for use or to rent. A child might be welcome at a beginner's yoga class for adults, but many studios also offer kid-centric yoga classes as well. If your child is interested in yoga, you might want to sign her up for a class, so that she learns the basic poses under a watchful eye. A trained instructor can help a child learn to do the poses without injuring herself.