It could be said that children these days can benefit from yoga more than ever before. With stimulation and distractions from the moment they wake until the moment they close their eyes at night, children are becoming more stressed and pressured by the environment we live in, and little is being done to counter balance the effects, in many cases. Yoga for kids can help them connect their body and mind, build concentration, increase their confidence and create a positive self-image.
5 key benefits of kids yoga
Why introducing yoga to your children could have a positive impact
Yoga for kids is becoming more popular as yoga studios start to introduce specific classes for children, and schools start to introduce yoga into their physical education classes and after-school activities.
The truth is that kids already practice bits of yoga in the playground, the park and in their gymnastics classes; the cat stretch, bow, bridge and tree-pose are a few that will most likely be familiar to kids.
However, word still needs to spread about the benefits of yoga for children, and they are not dissimilar to those of adults, however the context they use them will vary.
(1) Enhances physical flexibility & strength
First and foremost, yoga is physical and kids can relate to things that challenge them physically. Kids yoga will help them to improve their flexibility through various stretching and also build muscle strength through holding various poses.
Importantly too, yoga teaches children about body awareness and they will learn how to use their bodies in a healthy way, for example, taking care of their back and spine when carrying their school backpack and the importance of stretching after other physical exercise.
Yoga also improves the functionality of the digestive and immune systems, meaning in general, healthier and more energised children.
(2) Improves focus and concentration
Concentration is an issue for children nowadays, with a host of distractions both at home and in school.
Many children have an attachment to electronic devices, which is becoming beyond problematic for many parents who struggle to find ways to “detach” their child so they can literally switch-off a while.
Yoga is an excellent, and fun, way for children to build their concentration skills. Holding poses and practicing balances can be a great challenge for kids as they become more focused to improve themselves each time.
Teaching yoga for kids shows how they can improve attention, helps them through all aspects of life, however initially can help improve their performance in the classroom and studies have even suggested it can directly help improve grades.
Studies have also shows that kids yoga is also effective for children with attention disorders such as ADHD.
(3) Manages stress and teaches determination
Due to the environment we live in, with constant stimulation and pressure from peers, children can find themselves stressed, anxious and over-energised, The meditation aspect of yoga for kids helps them to learn how to use breathing and concentration techniques to still the mind and spend time being calm and centred.
As a child gets older, and with more practice, they should be able to train themselves to spend longer amounts of time just at rest, focusing on their breath and not getting distracted. For adults this is tricky so it may also take children a while, however they also have the benefit of their minds not being too “programmed” so taking up new habits can often come a little easier.
Yoga for children also teaches a sense of determination and achievement by feeling how the physical challenges yoga presents can be overcome with practice and dedication.
(4) Develops body and mind awareness
Children can become very disconnected to their body and mind as life starts to take over and social, parental and personal issues creep in.
Children’s yoga acts as a release for them to spend time exercising the physical body and calming the mind, in an environment where they can connect with other children of similar age.
By being aware of their body, their mind and essentially who they are as an individual can give them a stronger sense of direction, empowerment and ability to make decisions as they grow older.
(5) Instils a positive self-image through building confidence
A physically fit child is highly likely to have a more positive self-image than one who is overweight, so the basics of yoga help to create a good, healthy attitude to looking after and respecting the physical form.
However, yoga for kids goes further than this as it teaches children to have a positive outlook to life, to face challenges head on and to be confident in themselves as their personalities develop.
Also, as yoga for children usually takes place in a class, the child will feel part of a healthy, non-competitive group and learn to deal with interaction and integration.