Children can soak up knowledge like a sponge. Imagine if we intervened in their competitive sports, school pressures, and video games when possible to instill positive habits and self-images from such a young and moldable age. Yoga is an excellent practice to teach children. It will provide them a sense of inner fulfillment, and they will have fun doing it! Although it looks quite different from traditional yoga and styles, like you would teach an adult. Yoga for children offers kids many of the same benefits and teaches yogic principles except in a more playful way.
How do you explain yoga to a child?
There are quite a few ways you can explain yoga to a child, but remember that they are not mini-adults. When they come into class, they may already be expecting to move rather than listen to the etymology of the word ‘yoga.’ In either case, children are always looking to move around and have fun. Especially when surrounded by other children. Whether you are an instructor or a parent wanting to teach yoga to a child, it will help you to cast some of the serious and more complex aspects and benefits of yoga to the side. Explaining to children briefly the purpose of yoga and how it’s done.
A few things you can say
- Yoga is an activity that makes you feel calm, relaxed, and happy.
- Yoga is about building healthy minds and bodies by making shapes with your body.
- Yoga is an ancient practice created by yogis in India who were inspired by nature and animals and how everything in the world works together.
- Yoga is a physical activity for the body that also exercises the mind and breath.
- Yoga helps us learn about ourselves and teaches us that it’s okay to move freely.
- Yoga teaches us that we are all happy creatures, but it means something is off-balance whenever we feel sad. It helps us find balance in our bodies and minds so we can feel happy again.
What are the benefits of yoga in early childhood?
By providing them poses where they can work on and improve things like balance, yoga helps children feel motivated and empowered.
Children experience stress and anxiety too, and yoga can instill healthy habits for managing it from early childhood. Children can learn breathing exercises and other yoga techniques that can help them identify and cope with these feelings.
The different movements and poses children learn in yoga encourage them to concentrate and be present. Over time this level of focus improves their memorization skills.
Along a similar line as focus, yoga poses teach children about discipline and how much effort it can take to find balance and stay centered. Teaching yoga to a child fosters cooperation, as this activity is new to them, and they know they will need to listen and look for what to do. Furthermore, it can reduce impulsive behaviors by providing them a physical outlet to release energy and improve their emotional regulation.
They may not realize how much body awareness and mindfulness they are cultivating. Still, through practicing yoga poses, they learn so much about their bodies and what they are capable of.
Yoga is a chance to offer and inspire play, but in a way where each child can be who they are, enabling them to focus on what they are doing instead of the others around them.
When children learn to connect more deeply with their inner self through yoga, they can more easily begin to connect to and notice the nature around them.
Yoga Poses for Kids
Children can imagine their feet are the roots of a tree. This pose encourages focus and balance.
Poses with animal names are always a good choice for children’s yoga. The cat-cow pose one is great for introducing breathwork.
Children will connect easily to poses, like the boat pose, that have names they are familiar with.
A lot of children will love the idea of flying and resonate quickly with what this will look like.
Invite the children to imagine they are a butterfly and have them flap their legs as if they were wings.
Have the children focus on their belly as it rises and falls, encouraging them to breathe. In this way, breathwork will be like a game to them, as they relax and calm down while doing the corpse pose.
Yoga Activities for Kids
“Yogi Says” – play Simon Says, but with asanas.
Partner Poses – give a card with a pose on it to every two children and have them practice it together. It can be an individual pose that they do together, or an actual partner pose, such as a back-to-back tree pose.
Musical Poses – have the children walk around in a circle, and when the music stops, the instructor will call out a specific pose or pick a category of poses, such as “animal poses.”
No matter what activities and yoga poses you choose, the vital part of children’s yoga is providing a positive experience. These little yogis might not realize or be able to put fully into words everything they are accomplishing on their little mats. But it will benefit them in so many ways that it is more than worth the time you put into teaching it. Plus, you are helping to grow and inspire a future generation of self-confident, content, and connected adults, and what is more amazing than that?
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Yoga good for Kids?
Yoga helps strengthen muscles and joints for kids, so helps to prevent injuries. It also provides them a calming effect, which in turn helps with impulsiveness. Another great benefit is that it helps kids with their self-confidence.
What is the Best Yoga for Kids?
The best yoga for kids is a class that is fun and engaging. Similar to an adult class, a children’s yoga class should be taught in a particular order. While adults might begin a class getting centered and calm doing seated pranayama, children will need some time to get out their anxious wiggles, such as through a warm-up game. It also helps to break up the poses with a fun and relevant story or anecdote, possibly one that connects a piece of yoga philosophy with a fun understanding of or instruction for the pose they are working on. It is also important to be specific with your positive feedback instead of saying “good job” continuously; it might suggest to other children that they are not doing a good job. It also indicates that yoga is about doing a good job, which it isn’t really.