Man it’s really tough to be a kid in today’s society!
Children deal with so many temptations, distractions, over-stimulating activities and peer pressure. Schools are forced and challenged to do more with minimal resources and be creative in how they reach even the most isolated child.
Yoga is a low-cost, helpful tool that can have a positive impact on our children.
And wouldn’t we want them to have positivity in their lives? After all, they are our future!
How exactly does yoga help though?
Yoga helps kids to:
- Develop body awareness
- Learn how to use their bodies in a healthy way
- Manage stress through breathing, awareness, meditation and healthy movement
- Build concentration
- Increase their confidence and positive self-image
- Feel part of a healthy, non-competitive group
- Have an alternative to tuning out through constant attachment to electronic devices
In a school setting, yoga can also benefit teachers by:
- Giving them an alternate way to handle challenges in the classroom
- Giving them a healthy activity to integrate with lesson plans
- Give them a way to blend exercise into their classes
Here is what kids can expect to learn in a yoga class:
1. Awareness of the breath
Breathing exercises can energize kids or encourage relaxation, depending on what you teach. Different games and techniques help kids connect to how their bodies feel as a result of deep breathing. Focus increases, as does their breathing and lung capacity. Stress is naturally reduced and healthy hormones are released.
2. Strengthening and energizing
Kids think that yoga is great for stretching, but doesn’t build strength. Talking about the different muscles used in poses and incorporating games and sequences will help build strength as well as body awareness and coordination. Bodies that are strong digest food better, maintain a healthy weight and can support the stress of carrying heavy loads, like a backpack. Bodies will also breathe better, work more efficiently and protect the more fragile joints.
Balancing poses teach children that with increased focus, you can increase attention naturally, even in kids who struggle with different attention challenges. Poses and games focused on balancing skills, develop an intrinsic strength, evoke a meditative feeling, and promote stillness and quieting of the mind. This can help kids deal with the stress of living in a chaotic world where constant stimulation is a regular part of life.
4. Stretching and lengthening
It’s great for kids to be strong, but a body that’s only based on strength has no way to yield under pressure. Strong muscles without accompanying flexibility can’t move quickly, pulling on bones and joints. Yoga poses stretch muscles and through integrating breathing and movement, muscles become warm and become more flexible. They can yield when they need to, and support tender joints in a more functional way.
5. Awareness and focus
Yoga helps create awareness in the body through deep breathing and movement. It gives kids a way to express themselves, build a strong connection between what they hear and what they do. Children that have healthy body awareness are more confident and strong, have better posture, breathe better and have a sense of quiet strength.
6. Flowing, connecting and integrating
When we string poses together, we give kids a taste of what it means to move with ease. It also helps them build the awareness that all our movements are a series of coordinated efforts between muscles, bones, joints and nerves. Older kids are more able to isolate different muscle groups and get more sophisticated about movements; things like keeping the arms lifted in Warrior 1, while at the same time, dropping the shoulders to relax them. All these things together increase a child’s sense feeling integrated.
7. Meditation and relaxation
Yoga is meditative by nature. So whether a child is holding a balancing posture, sitting in meditation or moving through a series of poses, there’s going to be a calming, soothing quality. Giving younger kids something to do as they rest on their mats will help with their attention, such as suggesting they think of a favorite color or toy. Older kids will find it easier to rest longer with less structure.
Excerpted from Stretched:Build Your Yoga Business, Grow Your Teaching Techniques, Bare Bones Yoga.