Giving Kids the Gift of Yoga — Top 10 Benefits of Yoga for Children
Jodi Komitor | September 24, 2012 |
Yoga, the 5,000-year-old art of fusing the body and mind, is not just transforming adults today. Because of its amazing benefits, yoga for children is all the rage and is spreading rapidly around the world.
As a master kids’ yoga teacher for over fifteen years, I have personally witnessed how this ancient practice continuously supports children in their classrooms, homes, sports, and relationships. I have observed and interacted with kids of various ages around the world, and all have proven the same thing—the profound power of yoga is truly a gift that keeps on giving!
I could list hundreds of benefits, but here are my favorite ten reasons why yoga is awesome for kids.
1. Maintains Flexibility and Strengthens Growing Bodies
Children are born with an innate flexibility and yoga poses help to prolong this gift. Poses like Warrior One and Two aid in developing strength in their growing muscles and bodies. Strength and flexibility allow for fewer and less-severe injuries, especially when kids are engaged in sports, playground activity, and good ol’ rough and tumbling.
2. Enhances Concentration
In kids’ yoga classes, some poses are fast moving while others are slow paced. This allows children to learn self-control, enhancing their focus and awareness. Moving from Flying Bird Pose (Warrior Three) to balancing in Tree Pose takes great attention—a skill that is essential in most learning environments.
3. Increases Self-Esteem
When a child displays great strength, focus, and flexibility in Yoga, it does wonders for their confidence. A successful Crow Pose yields poise and power, which leads them to believe in and pursue their true abilities. Yoga success grants children persistence to achieve greatness as they embark on all of life’s adventures.
4. Teaches Present Moment Awareness
Yoga philosophy teaches present moment awareness because when our mind is thinking about the past or future, we are missing the most valuable now. When children are engaged, focused, having fun, and following a yoga lesson, they are in the present moment. As well, a good quality children’s yoga teacher will redirect kids and teach them about this valuable tool so they can carry it throughout their life.
5. Cultivates a Peaceful, Relaxed State of Body and Mind
All yoga classes conclude with a quiet time, also known as Deep Relaxation. Different from napping, this is an all-time favorite for yoginis of all ages. Called the “Do Nothing Pose,” children relish lying on their backs in quiet, peaceful stillness, sometimes with music and a guided visualization, foot massage, or an herbal eye pillow. Even if just for three minutes, children learn to understand the importance of this peace and can carry it with them into their daily lives.
6. Gives Tools for Stress Management
Practicing yoga provides kids an immediate outlet to reduce stress in a safe and nurturing environment. It is a physical exercise that produces happy endorphins. While breathing exercises slow down the heart rate, relaxation techniques are powerful sources for calming the mind and the body. Yoga teaches non-judgment and non-competition toward oneself and one another. These are all tools that a child can carry in to any difficult life situation.
7. Sparks Creativity in Ripe Imaginations
Kid’s yoga classes often infuse themes that are fun and engaging like “A Trip to the Beach” or “Jungle Safari.” When children are allowed the opportunity make up their own yoga poses to fit with the theme and express their experiences throughout the class, it inspires them to be free, creative, and self-expressive. Not only is this playful and fun, but it invites kids to tap into their own creativity and use their boundless imaginations without judgment.
8. Encourages Kind Peer and Social Interactions
Yoga teaches children that we are all the same inside, despite our outward appearance, race, and religion. We all have bodies that function, hearts that love, and feelings that feel. Partner yoga poses allow children to fully understand this concept of oneness by working together. Yoga inspires kids to be kind, patient, accepting, and emphatic with themselves and their peers.
9. Enhances Body Awareness
Yoga poses vary from balancing, strengthening, twisting, back bending, and inverting. All of these poses have the ability to teach a child about their body. Yoga teaches children to listen to where in their bodies they feel a movement and express how it makes them feel when they are complete. Body awareness is an invaluable tool for all stages and ages of life.
10. Teaches Discipline and Responsibility
Yoga is not a destination; rather it is a journey of a lifetime, which takes discipline. Ideally, when children learn at a young age the benefit of a committed practice, it ripples out into their everyday life activities, relationships, and responsibilities. When they learn that yoga takes practice versus an immediate accomplishment, they learn and accept that life is a path with good days, bad days, and everything in between.