Children’s Yoga: Introducing your kids to a healthy yoga and mindfulness practice.
Are you interested in sharing children’s yoga at home with your kids? Want to know the benefits? The best techniques to offer them? Here’s a how to of children’s yoga at home.
What is Children’s Yoga?
Yoga has been introduced to kids for centuries, be it in a traditional and adult manner. However, in our modern fast paced lives Children’s yoga and mindfulness has become a tool to help kids relax and instill healthy living concepts. Modern, Children’s yoga approaches the tradition of yoga through a playful and engaging angle. Taught by a skilful children’s yoga teacher, a child will be learning much more than just yoga posture, they will be learning life skills, communication, co-ordination and social interaction as well as emotional intelligence and spiritual guidance. The difference between an adult yoga practice and a children’s yoga practice is that children’s yoga will revolve around performing yoga postures and breathing techniques through the medium of story, art and craft and various mindfully selected games and songs. Children’s Yoga really is the embodiment of the buzz phrase of education ‘learn through play’
What is a mindfulness practice?
Another buzz word in the education world ‘mindfulness’ is a term coined from Buddhism but can be applied to everyday life and goes hand in hand with a children’s yoga practice. Mindfulness in simple term is being in the present moment, of reflecting or. Exactly the same aim as a yoga practice. By helping children be in the present moment you will be enabling them to look objectively at their problems, emotions and general life situations. Being mindful will allow children to enjoy the moment, the world and themselves, in all its beauty, relieving them from stressful situations or other distractions. Guiding children’s yoga and mindful practices will also help build bonds of trust and enable your kids to feel confident and supported.
What are the benefits of a Children’s Yoga and Mindfulness practice?
There are many benefits to children’s yoga. Depending on the style of teaching and ideas behind the lesson children can gain much positive benefit.
- Increased concentration
- Builds social skills
- Builds communication skills
- Builds coordination
- Improves balance
- Helps with anxiety
- Builds trust and connection
- Helps encourage emotional stability
- Helps to instill conscious decision making
- Confidence building
- Positive mental health
- Non- competitive activity
Here are a few ideas for sharing Children’s Yoga with your kids:
Share your own yoga Practice-
If you practice yoga, why not include your children? Make yoga a part of daily life not something off limits and secret. Practice in a room with your kids and let them join in, let them copy, play and use you as a balance. Let your children balance on your legs or crawl through your downward facing dog pose. Answer their questions, tell them stories and have fun with them. You don’t need to do this all the time and you don’t need to make it obligatory. Let your kids join you if they want to and explore yoga on their terms. By setting yourself as a positive role model your children will have the best example to follow.
If you are not a practitioner yourself, you can seek out a children’s yoga class. Or introduce some simple poses, or games. Read on for some simple suggestions to introduce in your children’s yoga practice.
Share song and mantra-
Children love song and rhyme! The simple act of using the voice in song lifts the spirit and helps to boost confidence and mood. Using the wonderful healing vibrations of mantras adds an even greater depth to this idea. You can combine the sacred vibrational sound of Aum or Om as part of a story. You can chant songs in English or traditional mantras in Sanskrit. You can act out the message or story of the song or mantra and explain the meaning. You can even make up your own songs together.
There are many Children’s yoga recordings or books available that you can sing along to.
Share stories or Yoga Mythology-
Traditional Yoga is based around wonderful Hindu mythological stories. There are poses named after characters in these stories. The stories themselves are of superhero like characters, adventures, other worlds, love stories, tales of moral guidance, decision making, self-acceptance and connection. These stories are wonderful to tell and explain the morals behind to children, you can find beautifully illustrated children’s books which you can act out.
If you don’t feel inclined to Hindu Mythology then there are modern children’s stories you can act out or even books and cards that are made specifically to teach children’s yoga. You can even create adventure stories or moral guidance stories with your children letting them choose the direction or characters if you feel confident. Children love this approach!
Make it simple, fun and playful-
Use child friendly language, make the stories accessible and relatable to real life. If your children can relate to their own experience or imagine the images you are acting out then they can more easily apply the teachings to their life. For example if you are enacting a story or song about friendship and acceptance then make it child friendly. Explain how to use empathy; by asking how you think a character might react or feel and why?
Make your time together fun, use their interest. Take them outside or use voice and games. Play yoga together. Let them look forward to their Children’s Yoga time.
Help them to observe the breath-
Breathing is both the key to yoga and the key for accessing and controlling the feelings and the mind. Young children know how to breathe, they just need to know how to be mindful and present of it. The way to do this is to show them how to watch the breath, how to be in the present moment. You can instruct a simple breathing practice by showing how to breathe in and out deeply and how this technique will change the emotions and allow you to calm the mind and think clearly about a situation. You can ask your child how they feel.
Young Children should not practice breath retention or complicated pranayama. These can be dangerous for their developing lungs.
As yoga becomes more understood as a tool for wellness and mental health, it is becoming more frequent to find schools and groups applying the principles of childrens yoga and mindfulness in the classroom. This is an absolutely wonderful development. You can be a part of this development of social, moral and spiritual development of our collective human community by adding simple yoga or mindfulness techniques to your childs everyday activities.
Remember, have fun!
We teach special workshops at Mahi Yoga on Children’s Yoga. For more information take a look at our website www.mahiyoga.com
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” Thich Nhat Hanh