Yoga for Kids
It all started in a sweaty, loud, less than peaceful gym. I was 15 years old, and decided to try yoga for the 1st time. I remember my teacher being thin, and well built. She was kind yet powerful, both physically and what seemed to me, as mentally also. She was a pretty woman with grace, and poise. Three states, and many years later I still hear the fading sound of her voice echoing those sweet words: “and breathe...” This message has stuck with me, through good times and bad, thru painful personal and professional circumstance, as well as hopeful and blissful moments of joy. The message “breathe” has been my rock, my solace. I am so grateful, having been introduced to Yoga at a relatively early age. Unlike most of my friends, and even some of my teachers who didn’t have this gift offered to them until later in life. I’ve thought more than once, about how different my life, and I would have been, had I not been exposed to the yoga in my adolescent years.
Yoga (meaning union or yoke) is the practice of accessing and integrating all aspects of our true nature - body, mind, and spirit - in the pursuit of inner harmony. As I sit and recall the times in my life that were the toughest, I often notice the thread that weaved it together, or in some instances apart. I would be lying if I said that I practiced yoga consistently all the years since being introduced to it at the age of 15. And coincidentally, with more time to ponder, I realize now, that it was the times in my life that were the roughest, when yoga was missing as a staple of my world. Perhaps a coincidence, perhaps not. Whether it be the practice of letting go, or stretching both physically and mentally, or maybe just the idea of consistent “something/or anything” yoga has been a powerful resource in my evolution and upbringing into adulthood. My only regret being: Why didn’t I start it sooner!? And so, below I share, what I trust are just some of the many benefits of starting yoga at an early age:
1. Evidence shows that children who practice yoga experience increased strength emotionally, socially as well as physically. A dedicated and intentional practice which includes breathing techniques, behavioral guidelines, as well as physical postures, can be incredibly valuable for them. Yoga is something that can be practiced anywhere and the breathing, the concentration, the poses, and the way kids learn to act or react to situations can lead to constant self-discovery and inquisitiveness. Plus, yoga is mobile, and no mat, special clothing, or special pillow is required or necessary.
2. Kids that practice yoga express greater self-esteem and self-respect. It’s a great way for shy children to feel safe being themselves without judgement and without fear of being wrong. Both with physical activity and in social situations, they can experience greater opportunities for development in a safe setting.
3. Yoga enhances physical flexibility, and promotes physical strength. Kids that study and practice yoga, learn to use their muscles in new ways. Whether a pose is done standing, sitting, or lying down, each one can challenge various muscle groups while helping a child become aware of his/her body and how it moves.
4. Children that practice, are known to have good balance and coordination. Balance is a key element of yoga, and the balancing poses were created to promote mental and physical poise, as well as mental clarity. Even if a child has difficulty standing on one foot, she/he learns the value of mental focus and physical balance. They also learn the importance of never giving up, and having an opportunity to try again another day. What comes as a result, is an added sense of accomplishment and the participant feeling proud knowing they tried. In some circles, knowing that failure is never really such.
5. Coordination is also closely tied to balance and promotes overall stamina.Yoga teachers as well as occupational therapists and physical therapists say, that specialized techniques help children with fine motor skills, as well as, breath to body coordination.
I hope this article creates a little more awareness for you the reader. Whether a parent considering to enroll your child in a Yoga Class series, a one-time class, or you are reading as a teenager or adult that reads Bozeman magazine, the benefits of Yoga are many, and I look forward to hearing from you, or perhaps seeing your child or you at an upcoming yoga class.