I really wish I would have started yoga as a kid. Not that I’m an avid yogi now, but if you’ve read my blog about the Runyon Canyon Yoga class, then you know I dabble- in whatever is fun for the moment. I’m not the most flexible person, so doing some poses is too difficult, and I’m impatient. I feel having started as a kid would have changed my life. As weird as that sounds, it’s true. I’d probably be more healthy and active. Friends of mine who do take yoga seriously, and go at least once a week, seem to have more energy and just over all freshness to them. I really would love to be able to get into yoga for real and feel as good as I’m sure my friends feel.
One of my friends actually has her 4 year old son in yoga already. She’s very healthy and “green”, or organic but luckily never tries to force her way of life on me, although if I should make the mistake of asking- I get more information than I can handle. I asked her why she thinks her son should be doing yoga. “Kids are already, NATURALLY, limber” I said. “What’s the point?” She had a lot of good points…
Kids today tend to be more overweight, and there’s not too much we can do about it. Their interests have changed to more technological stimulants which are great mentally but can cause us to neglect our body. I myself have noticed a trend among younger parents who seem hesitant to enroll their children in sports or activities with a competitive nature. This is causing them to find an alternatives that gives their kids the same benefits as competitive activities. Yoga seems to be the go to. There’s the obvious benefits of flexibility and balance, but it also makes kids more aware of their bodies and can help develop self esteem.
On americanyogaassociation.org I found some interesting information about yoga and kids, which I will definitely pass on the my friend. The good news is, so far, there’s nothing to say Yoga can be negative. You really just have to make sure the kids don’t over stretch their muscles. Remember that children often don’t know what they’re feeling isn’t normal- it may not always cause pain, per say. They should only practice light stretches or simple poses for no longer than 20-30 mins. Considering children have lower attention spans and smaller bodies and may not do so hot with position-holding or the meditative aspects of yoga. Try to be playful, mimicking animals is a fun one. Anything that encourages imagination seems to be popular. Here are a few good techniques I got from newbieyoga.com to help you practice yoga with your child.
First, get a yoga mat for kids – not an adult sized yoga mat. Kids love to do things themselves and the smaller sized kids yoga mats are easier for them to handle on their own, plus there are usually some cool colors and/or designs for the kids to choose from.
Now, make doing yoga fun. Yoga poses have very unusual names, make up games or ideas for your child. For example, if your child is in Warrior Pose, have him or her imagine being a warrior. Tell them about the strength and courage a warrior would have. In Tree Pose, tell them to imagine what it would be like to be a tree. Pretend that their legs are strong roots and branches and have your child lift their arms up to the sky like the leaves of a tree, opening to the sun.
Allow them to move through poses at their own pace. They may not be able to concentrate for too long on each pose so make the time between each pose shorter.
Do yoga together. This can increase the bond between you and your child.
At the end of your yoga session lead them through a relaxation in Savasana(Corpse Pose) by telling them a story or a visualization such as being birds in a beautiful garden, imagining to be fish in the sea or eagles soaring over green pastures. This will help calm your child, increase their concentration as well as tap into their creativity.