When you hear about yoga classes for children you may be a bit skeptical. You may find yourself thinking, why? Why should my child do yoga? Won’t that be too hard for a child to understand and physically do? How would it help them? Isn’t yoga linked to religion? Why should my child do yoga when they can do other activities like riding their bike, running, sports like soccer and playing games like tag?
Whether you practice yoga or not, you most likely have heard about the benefits it provides. Practicing yoga is known to help reduce stress, promote calm and positive emotions, as well as increasing balance, strength and overall health. One of the great things about yoga is that the benefits it provides are for everyone, regardless of age. Anyone from children to grandparents can participate in and benefit from yoga.
To give you a brief history, yoga began in India and comes from a Hindu philosophy that supports a union, or coming together, of mind and body through a series of postures and breathing practices to obtain control of the body and mind and achieve a calm and tranquil state.
So, why should children do yoga? Studies have found that children who practice yoga see improvements in a variety of ways, and that it can also be effective for children with learning disabilities. Practicing yoga can help give children tools to deal with challenges in their present and future lives. Here are a few of the benefits yoga provides for children and reasons why it’s a great activity for children to participate in and/or try out.
- Stress and Anxiety Reduction
A key component of yoga is breath. Yoga promotes deep breathing, quieting your mind, being still and and being in tune with your body and emotions. Children can take these breathing practices into their daily lives with everyday stresses like homework, tests, and fights with friends to help them calm down, focus, and concentrate.
- Teaches Mindfulness and Being One’s Best Self
While yoga is based on Hindu philosophy, it is not a religion and instead focuses on being your best self and on self-awareness. Yoga accomplishes this through teaching you to pause, reflect, and think about how you feel on the outside and inside, thus helping children to better be in tune with their bodies and emotions, as well as promoting body acceptance and confidence.
- Teaches Compassion
One of the main teachings of yoga is compassion and love for yourself and all living things. This helps instill non-discrimination and anti-prejudice values in kids through teaching them to love and accept those who are different from them, as well as to show love and compassion for themselves.
- Fosters a Non-competitive Environment
One of the great things about yoga is that everyone is at different levels and does what feels good to them. In yoga you are taught to not compare yourself or how you do the poses with others around you. It helps keep kids active and is a great idea for those who don’t like group competitive sports. Yoga is also very accessible in that children can practice it alone, with a friend, a parent, or in a group setting.
- Helps to Improve Balance, Strength, Flexibility and Posture
Yoga allows kids to learn to use their muscles in new or different ways through its variety of poses promoting strength and flexibility. Balance is another key element of yoga, as many poses require balance and good posture, such as standing on one leg for tree pose or sitting straight up with crossed legs for lotus position and breathing exercises. Learning to master these things can help children feel a sense of achievement and success, as well as help with overall coordination and confidence.
- It’s Fun
Many yoga poses are based around animals and the environment- tangible things that kids can relate to. Poses like tree, cat-cow, and downward dog can be fun for kids, as they can pretend to be these animals and take on their characteristics.
Here at Boston Children’s Museum, we believe in nurturing children’s creativity, curiosity, healthy development, and overall well-being. One of the ways we do this is through our Family Yoga program. If you think your child may enjoy yoga or benefit from it, then please come practice with us. Family Yoga is offered Monday mornings at 11:15 a.m., and we would love to have you join us. The class is free with Museum admission and mats are provided. Please let us know in the comments section below if your child has benefited from yoga, you’ve come to our yoga class in the past, or would like to come participate. We hope to see you and your child on the mat with us soon. Until then, Namaste!
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