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People of all ages have recognized the health benefits of yoga, an ancient spiritual practice that has seized the public’s imagination in these stressful times. Grandmothers and octogenarians are frequently shown in pretzel-like poses, praising the practice for improving their flexibility and overall wellness. There are no age limits for this form of exercise, either: more and more parents are embracing yoga for kids as well!
Here are seven reasons why yoga for kids is a great idea for them and for you.
1. Learn to Achieve Calmness
Besides its physical benefits, yoga aficionados advocate this practice as a proven way to achieve serenity. Many of its exercises focus on the breath as a way to center one’s thoughts and calm the nervous system.
The calming qualities of a yoga practice are needed by children these days as much as they are by their parents. Kids’ lives are scheduled to the max, with after-school activities, sports, and homework taking time away from playing, reading and just hanging out.
Some teachers have even found that yoga can have a positive effect on kids diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The poses and breathing provide self-soothing techniques that kids with these conditions can utilize to calm down.
2. Greater Flexibility
The physical benefits of yoga for the bodies of growing youngsters are numerous. Stretching helps prevent injuries, lengthens muscles and improves mobility in the joints. The more children learn to stretch while they are young, the more likely they will be to maintain these good habits and qualities later in life.
Student-athletes and most kids with lots of energy tend to run, jump and move around a lot! However, they do not always take the time to warm up their bodies. Yoga for kids promotes healthy habits by requiring them to slow down, take their time and let their bodies flow into poses which facilitate flexibility and endurance.
3. Maximize Body Awareness
Kids grow, often very quickly- and their changing bodies often make them clumsy and uncoordinated. When your body gains three inches in height over the period of a few months, it can be hard to realize where you are in relation to other objects!
Kids can also be hyper-aware of their bodies – and not in a good way. Peer pressure and media images create unrealistic expectations: kids expect to be thin and beautiful like famous celebrities and can get depressed if they do not measure up.
Yoga for kids encourages acceptance of one’s body for what it is, what it can do and its potential.
4. Boost in Confidence
Yoga for kids has been found by experts to increase confidence. By providing a safe place where kids can relax and stay in the moment, yoga has been found to help children in all walks of life.
Experts at organizations like Healthy Focus have found that bringing yoga to inner city schools has had a positive impact on reducing suspensions and disciplinary issues and improving grades. When children are given a place to practice mindfulness, their confidence in themselves grows and manifests in less destructive behaviors.
Instead of comparing themselves to others, yoga encourages children to grow at their own pace and take pride in their individual accomplishments. Even a simple exercise like getting better at touching their toes each week creates a feeling of achievement, something they can be proud of.
5. Increased Focus
Many kids get easily distracted and need guidance in focusing on their schoolwork, keeping track of their belongings or even their bodies. How often do you hear a mom yelling, “Pay attention!”
Yoga for kids provides a safe, gentle space for young ones to practice their focus. Of course, being told to focus doesn’t always help: yoga solves this by giving kids concrete tasks to focus on.
For example, if they are given a pose that requires balance, they must focus on staying upright.
If they are told to focus on breathing in one nostril and out the other, they are prevented from focusing on what their friends are doing or what is going on outside the classroom.
These exercises come in handy for teaching children how to focus on other things in their lives…like homework! Plus, yoga for kids often includes fun props to focus on, like bouncy balls, bricks, and ropes.
6. Time Out from Screens
In today’s plugged-in world, many parents are concerned about the amount of time their kids spend on screens, looking at phones, iPads, and other devices.
Experts reveal that the overstimulation of constant electronic bombardment can have negative effects on children’s brains.
Exercise like yoga has many benefits to counteract the effects of too much screen time. It can help to improve memory, concentration, and serenity. It brings kids back into their bodies and into the present, taking them out of the cybersphere at least for a little while.
7. Starting the Work-Out Habit Early
Another benefit to enrolling your children in a yoga class at a young age is that it will instill in them healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
Kids who associate movement and meditation with fun are more likely to continue these behaviors. On the other hand, adults who try to start these habits later in life- on the advice of a doctor or to lose weight- often face far more challenges to get started and stay engaged.
By creating these ingrained habits at an early age, children will reap benefits their entire lives. Researchers have found that yoga literally changes one’s brain, creating more grey matter.
Not only will yoga give your kids the gifts of mindfulness and calmness which will help them throughout their lives, it may even make them smarter!
8. Yoga for Kids: Happy Children, Happy Parents
Parents want to give their children the tools they need to succeed in life. Yoga for kids is a gift you can give your offspring which will pay off in many ways. By learning this ancient practice at a young age, they will be better prepared to go out into the world equipped for many of its challenges.
For more tips on health and wellness for your entire family, check out our blogs.