More and more kids are practicing yoga -- and you know what, it totally makes sense. Here are six ways that kids are natural yogis:
1. They are Fearless: Kids are not afraid fall, go upside down, or look silly. They have an enviable freedom and sense of adventure! They are more fearless than me when it comes to trying things like headstand.
2. They are Flexible: Kids can often put their feet behind their head, do splits and all kinds of crazy flexible things without even trying. Their challenge is more holding poses and slowing down, but this can be done, especially if approached as a game. (How long can you hold your Tree Pose?) Again, they are more flexible than me in many ways!
3. They Have Yoga Poses Named After Them: There’s Child’s Pose, and no "Adult Pose" after all. There’s Happy Baby pose (not "Angry" or "Frustrated Baby"). There must be a lot to learn from kids if adult yogis are busy posing as them!
4. Kids Love Animals and Nature, Even Urban Kid Yogis: Why visit the zoo when you can be the zoo? Who doesn’t want to pretend to be a barking downdog or slinky snake? Kids really get into what it might feel like to be a windy tree or a camel with a big hump. There is a natural curiosity and respect for nature inherent in most kids. They love to learn animal facts along with practicing poses.
5. Kids Are Busy Exploring the World. Yoga Helps With That: One of my teachers said a kid’s job is to play; play is how they learn about the world. What better way to play than through yoga? You get to see what it feels like to make your body into a triangle with three points, or a star, with five. You get to be a warrior (one, two OR three) and get to go on adventures involving mountains and suns and dogs and cats. You get to sprawl out in rockstar pose and play air guitar, or curl up in bug pose. When you think about it, it almost seems more natural that kids would do yoga than adults, given all the playful things we do in yoga. (Breathe like the ocean? Stick our tongues out? Try to stand on one limb?)
6. Kids Need Yoga As Much As Adults: State tests, soccer practice, bullies, the "cool table" in the cafeteria, wanting to look like Miley Cyrus or a Jonas Brother and not yourself, dealing with siblings, wanting the latest toy, text messaging, the internet, getting good grades, serious concerns like childhood obesity, eating disorders and ADD....the list of kid stressors is about as long as adult ones, even in a good year. Navigating childhood can be tough. Learning how to calm yourself down and building confidence and health through yoga helps with kid life. Increased self acceptance? Check. Knowing how to breathe to relax yourself and reflect before acting? Done. If kids can learn some of the benefits of yoga from an early age, imagine what an amazing future world we’d all have!