With the pressures of school work and the demands of a busy schedule, kids can get stressed. Learning to use yoga at an early age can help counter these pressures, according to an article at the Yoga Journal website, and increase self-esteem and body awareness. Kids should start with some beginner yoga poses that are safe, and it could become a form of exercise that can help them feel healthy and happy.
One of the most important aspects of practicing yoga is learning to breathe deeply. To teach this to your child, have him lie on his back and place his hands on his stomach. Ask him to take a deep breath and notice how he feels his belly move up and down as he breathes. According to YogaWiz.com, this helps him connect with his breathing and be more aware of it. Ask him to try to push his stomach out as he inhales deeply and let it suck in as he exhales. For young children, a small toy placed on their belly can make the rise and fall of their breaths more visual.
Children love to use their imagination, so you can invite them to pretend to be different animals as you teach them some basic yoga poses. Many poses are named after animals, such as Downward-Facing Dog Pose, Frog Pose, Butterfly Pose or Cobra Pose. While performing these poses, allow your child to make the noises that each animal makes, like barking as they breathe in Downward-Facing Dog, or hiss when they stretch up in Cobra Pose. Use the names of the poses to encourage your child to imagine how that animal moves or looks. For example, ask him to think about how a cat arches its back as he curves his spine for Cat Pose.
Many other beginner yoga poses are named for objects in nature, which can be a way for children to make a connection between themselves and the environment, according to Yoga Journal. Teach your child Mountain Pose and ask him to imagine stretching as tall as the highest mountain. Show him Tree Pose and have him think about having roots that grow into the ground as he balances in the pose. To keep a child's attention long enough to hold the yoga poses, it can be helpful to sing a song or recite a poem as they stretch. For example, while he holds the Half-Moon Pose, chant Hey Diddle Diddle and think about the cow jumping over the moon.
Make it Fun
Children can derive several benefits from practicing yoga, but they need to enjoy themselves as they exercise. You do not want to push your child too hard to perform the poses better or try harder, but instead act as a guide to encourage him and engage his mind and become aware of his movements. If you sing, talk and laugh together while you practice yoga, your child will begin to think of it as a fun form of exercise. If he is enjoying himself, he will want to continue doing yoga poses, leading to more flexibility, a more relaxed feeling, better attention and better sleep, according to PBS Parents.