Yoga, a practice that can be traced back to thousands of years, has been proven highly beneficial for people of all ages, including kids. With its growing popularity, a lot of parents have recognized the viability of introducing their kids to Yoga at an early age.
Without a doubt, the benefits of Yoga extend to kids. However, it is important to note that yoga for kids is quite different from Yoga for adults. This is because not all Yoga poses are applicable to kids. There are certain restrictions and guidelines that need to be properly observed and there are also poses that are highly recommended.
For parents who are interested or curious about yoga for kids, let’s take time to discuss some important facts.
Why Consider Yoga For Kids?
One common question asked by many is if it is really advisable to introduce Yoga to a child. The answer is: YES, IT IS. Why? Our children live in a highly fast-paced world, with exceptionally busy parents. Like us, they are also required to cope with constant pressures from different areas in life — from school, home, day-to-day interactions, as well as in highly competitive sports that they may be engaged in.
These unhealthy aspects of modern life create enormous stress not only on their tiny bodies but also on their mind. It is now evident that Yoga effectively aids in combating all these modern day pressures.
Practicing Yoga on a regular basis helps develop flexibility. Kids who practice Yoga have more flexible bodies than those who don’t. This increased flexibility can significantly help in reducing the risks of injuries, such as muscle strains, pulls and sprains. With the flurry of physical activities that kids often engage in, along with the physical aspects for day-to-day living, flexibility is critically important.
Develops Strength and Stamina
It’s true that schools put a lot of pressure on kids. School children are always seen carrying huge bags filled with books and notebooks that are far often too heavy for their small bodies to carry. In addition, the stress and pressure that comes with learning complex lessons can also contribute to anxiety.
For this reason, it is important for kids to be able to develop strength and stamina to cope the demands that come with learning and living. Through regular Yoga practice, kids become more equipped to handle these day-to-day stresses.
Enhances Agility and Balance
Yoga improves agility, balance, coordination and cardiovascular fitness among kids — all of which are important in enhancing physical performance. A lot of people share a common misconception that only adults are afflicted with cardiovascular diseases. In truth, recent surveys reveal that there is growing prevalence observed to affect younger individuals, including kids. But whether or not your child is suffering from any health concerns, Yoga can be incorporated as part of the fitness routine for preventing diseases including cardiovascular ailments.
Yoga emphasizes the importance of proper body alignment. With this in mind, poor posture, which can lead or contribute to a number of health concerns and increased risks of injuries, can be corrected at an early age. In addition, Yoga also promotes mind and body alignment.
Enhances Mind Power
Yoga can also help improve concentration. This is highly beneficial for kids as it helps them stay more focused and conscientious in their studies. Kids who are more focused and fully engaged in class are found to be more likely to carry on and adapt this positive attitude into adulthood.
Nurtures Self-Discipline and Inner Strength
Through Yoga, kids learn Niyamas. This refers to the second limb of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga outlined in the Yoga Sutras. Niyamas refers to internal practices that are designed to develop inner strength and create a code for living a harmonious and moral life.The third Niyama is Tapas, or self-discipline, which can contribute in instilling discipline and balance into your child’s life during the formative years.
Yogic breathing exercises, which is an integral part of Yoga, promotes deep and slow breathing, which can help them focus on their inner self, thereby aiding in self-realization and self-recognition. Yoga, when introduced at an early age can also help promote self-esteem as well as an enhanced sense of body awareness when performing physical activities that are non-competitive.
Facilitate Better Social Relations
Yoga develops social and cooperative skills among children. Group yoga, in particular, is recommended for developing that participatory attitude. Kids who regularly practice Yoga are observed to be more social and communicative. Yoga for kids also offers many opportunities to exchange and gain insights, share feelings, and create a solid groundwork for a long-term practice.
Important Safety Considerations
Now, that you are fully informed of the great benefits of Yoga for kids, let us focus on the important safety measures that should be taken and observed if your kids practice Yoga in order to prevent injuries.
- Environment. Providing your child a practice place is very important. Make it comfortable, friendly and safe. Be sure that the room is equipped with adequate light and fresh air with a comfortable temperature. Ensure enough supply of drinking water and accessories, including a quality Yoga mat to prevent accidental slips.
- Right Timing. Allow your kids to practice Yoga only after 4 hours following a large meal or 1 to 2 hours following a light meal or snack. The pace should be steady and slow. In addition, inverted Yoga poses should be avoided as it is not recommended for kids.
- Professional Guidance. Find an instructor who is adequately trained to teach Yoga, particularly Yoga for kids. Make sure that he/she understands child psychology. If you decide to go to a Yoga studio, the facility should be equipped to offer Yoga instruction specifically designed for kids. And above all, discuss the matter to your doctor and take prior permission before enrolling your child to a Yoga class.