Why Yoga for kids? Swimming, gymnastics, rugby, karate etc… there are so many choices available to parents for physical movement based extra curricular classes. What makes kids yoga different and what are the benefits? First of all kids yoga is not like adults yoga, it is much more fun! You do have to make it digestible for kids though or they simply would not be as interested, a bit like trying to give them vegetables because you know they will be good for them but blending them into a bolognaise sauce (most kids I know LOVE Spagetti Bolognaise)!
In a kids yoga class the poses are woven into interactive journeys, stories and themes with games, music, drama and even basic acrobatics! The classes can be tailored to issues which are important to kids such as bullying, friendship, trust, family etc. No class is the same and kids even get to take home little gifts most weeks which are related to yoga.
In some adult yoga classes there may be religious teachings, this is definitely not a part of kids yoga, the core values of kids yoga is respect and honor for yourself, others and the environment. The poses are named after objects, animals and nature. At Over The Rainbow, in dance as well as yoga, kindness, respect and having FUN are most important.
Kids yoga is a fun way for children to develop a variety of important skills in a nurturing non competitive environment.
From a young age kids begin to experience pressure to perform academically and socially. Add to this the pressure of competitive sports and its easy for kids to become overly self critical and lose confidence in themselves. During this time yoga can be great for the tension associated with these daily stressors as well as an important part of healthy physical, emotional and cognitive development. During a kids yoga class there is no judgement or competition, doing a pose perfectly or better than someone else is not the aim of kids yoga or any yoga. Unconditional positivity and encouragement creates a healthy environment allowing kids to relax and have fun whilst developing strength, co- ordination, flexibility and balance as well as increased body awareness, concentration and self esteem.
In a kids yoga class we strive to maintain a balance between spontaneity and structure, so that the kids in the classes learn to listen to themselves and each other while being able to express themselves creatively. The incorporation of poses into stories, music, and games, creates a multi sensory environment where kids develop through kinesthetic, visual, and aural learning.
Kids yoga teaches not only an awareness of our ourselves and our friends but creates an awareness of the world around us. During a yoga class kids are often guided on a magical journey around the world learning about other countries and cultures. Through the incorporation of the many yoga poses based on the movements of animals, kids learn about different animal habitats, endangered species and about global issues such as recycling! Kids have a natural affinity with animals and they understand and enjoy learning about the earth and it inhabitants, both human and animal.
MINDFULNESS in kids yoga is all about learning to relax, breathe and learning the skills to calm our body and mind. Mindfulness is a very important part of yoga which tends to happen towards the end of the class. Quiet time is a part of every kids yoga class and it is just as important as all the fun physical stuff! We use breathing games to help calm things down after a physical class, we slow down and go within, breathing and listening to how we feel in our mind and body. Mindfulness helps children to develop more awareness of their breathing and using it as a tool can benefit children in all aspects of their lives, when an angry or stressful situation at school arises it could mean having the skills to take some time to take a few deep breaths which will help to calm the body & mind and could really make a difference. Using your breathing skills when feeling anxious or scared & having the emotional tools to deal with these challenges is where kids yoga can really help. During mindfulness a guided story helps to calm the mind and sometimes even a mindful colouring in session is just as effective. Kids love quiet time and relaxation because it is done in a fun way which engages their imagination. Having calmer, more aware and less reactive kids can only be a good thing for both children and parents. Kids yoga makes mindfulness joyful, relaxing and fun and the benefits from mindfulness are far reaching in children and young peoples lives.