Everyone seems to be doing yoga these days – from celebrities to professional athletes and everyone in between. Kids are even getting in on the yoga bandwagon and yoga is so very GOOD for them. Here are five reasons (believe me, there are many more) that kiddos should do yoga.
1. A Mental Break – Kids need opportunities for mental breaks! They need time away from what is expected of them in school, from after-school activities, from television, from video games…they need time just to BE. When I ask the kids I teach (k-5) what their favorite poses are they invariably shout out Savasana, Meditation Pose and Shoulder Stand as the top three. All of which require a high degree of quiet and stillness of body and mind. It’s shocking but true. They need time to enjoy the “white pace” and the “down time” that seems to be lacking in our culture just like grownups. In fact, they crave it. I always hear at least once if not numerous times during yoga this little snippet, “Miss Sonya…is it time for Savasana yet?”
2. Feelings of Accomplishment – There is no way to “fail” at yoga. Yoga instills a sense of accomplishment that translates into other activities in life. We work on poses and break them down and go over them in a way that is fun and challenging but the idea of failure is never introduced. Every movement, big or small, is a success. Each and every child is a “winner” at yoga. It doesn’t matter the size or ability. The ability to sit in easy mediation pose is just as important as the ability to move into a more challenging pose. Each child learns that they naturally have a pose they are really good at and they are encouraged to be the “master” of that natural ability and then share it with others but also to move into areas (asana or meditation) where they don’t have mastery and give it a go.
3. Fearlessness – Kids don’t carry around fear the same way adults do but getting into yoga early gives children a distinct advantage in the fear department as they grow up. Flipping upside down as in handstand or doing an arm balance like Bakasana (crow pose) are activities that lead them into the idea that they are strong and capable. Tackling these types of poses teaches them that they can overcome fear by meeting it head on and then move into the area where they can fly (literally and figuratively).
4. Focus – Yoga helps kids focus. Taking time to focus on one thing at a time is a powerful skill. In yoga, kids learn to focus on their breath in meditation. They learn to focus on a singular movement in a yoga pose. They learn to tune into what’s happening on the inside rather than what’s happening on the outside. This helps them tremendously in taking tests, reading, completing homework and sets them up for completing tasks that are required in school and at home.
5. Fun – Yoga is FUN! It’s play time and not all seriousness. They learn that everyone falls and everyone gets up and tries again. There is no competition. Everyone is encouraged to move forward at their own pace. Each child is honored. There are lots of hugs. There is a ton of laughter and the environment is one of support and respect.
Children don’t often come to yoga with the hang-ups, hurts and injuries that adults have to contend with. Generally speaking, a child’s body is more open and receptive as is the heart, mind and spirit. But kids who can start a yoga practice at an early age have access to some distinct advantages as they grow up and move through life. So get your kids into yoga! Go and take a class with them. Get them in a class after school or in a yoga camp during the summer. Ask for a yoga program in your school.