Kids and Yoga - Why, When, and How

barbaryogaUnfortunately, kids today are more sedentary than ever, so parents should be vigilant in finding exercise that their kids enjoy. Team sports becomes a huge part of many children’s lives, but this doesn’t interest all kids, or match their skills. An often overlooked option is yoga. While yoga is enjoying a surge in popularity with adults, parents should contemplate the benefits yoga packs for kids: Yoga encourages concentration - Yoga requires that people focus solely on the pose they are attempting. It is a process of mindfulness that teaches children that they can “turn off” negative thoughts and concentrate on the task at hand. Yoga strengthens balance - yoga teaches people to balance, often on one foot or in poses we don’t often hold in western culture. Yoga increases physical flexibility - the major stretching component of yoga helps build flexibility in muscles and joints, which can help with the growing pains many children experience, without the use of over-the-counter drugs. While it may sound far-fetched, there are many times that yoga can benefit children throughout their typical days. Yoga may be just what your child needs when these moments arise: Waking up - some children have an especially difficult time waking up in the morning or from their nap. Yoga provides a smooth transition from sleep to activity. Try one or two poses with your child once they are out of bed. Needing a study break - kids and teens with homework to finish can benefit from study breaks every 45 minutes, but instead of letting them zone out in front of a T.V. show, have them try a couple of yoga poses. Teachers are increasingly trying this in their classrooms when they sense their kids are losing focus. Feeling upset - if your child comes home from school or a social event upset about something that happened, try some yoga after you talk about it. Yoga can provide a good transition from feeling upset to “moving on” with the rest of your child’s day. After rigorous exercise - many professional sports teams are using yoga to have athletes stretch out after practice, and this can work for your kids too, either at the field or once you get home from practice. Having to wait - none of us likes waiting for things, and children least of all. If you’re waiting in a line or in a waiting room, let your restless or bored child do some poses. This is especially helpful for events about to start that your child is nervous about, like a big test, important game, performance or doctor’s visit. Spending time with you - if you’re doing yoga, let your child try it with you. This is a great way to spend time with your child and model healthy habits of exercise and self-discipline. Recovering from injury or illness - athletic kids who are sidelined with an injury or recovering from illness can often practice yoga as a transition to their normal level of rigorous practices. It also helps with feelings of frustration at being sidelined and “missing out” (children who are running a fever should not exercise unless your pediatrician authorizes it - let him rest instead). Going to bed - bedtime is a battle in some families. If you’re already having a warm bath and reading books as part of the bedtime routine but it’s still a struggle, try adding some yoga. Ideally, do some poses with your child before bath time or before she gets into bed for reading time. Living with Autism - try exposing a child with Autism and related conditions to yoga. Yoga is calming and a “quiet” activity that has benefited many children at different points on the Autism spectrum Getting kids to try yoga doesn’t require a sophisticated yoga studio. In fact, your kids can try it out in your own home. Try yoga a few different ways, like… Cosmic Kids - a Youtube channel that offers a new yoga class each month in the form of an adventure story. Cosmic kids also posts a “Pose of the Week” on Instagram. Storyland Yoga - available on Amazon Video for streaming, this hour-long video takes kids through ecology-oriented stories while teaching poses. Yoga Pretzels - available as both a paperback book and a deck of cards, this is excellent for travel and places you can’t bring out your electronic devices.