by Dr. Arya Krishna: Do we ever think about how our lifestyle changes affect our kids?
Our children live in a hurry-up world of busy parents, school pressure, incessant lessons, video games, malls, and competitive sports. In addition to all of these came the quarantine and stay-at-home stress. These all are highly stressful for children, and yoga can help combat the effects of this stress effects.
June 21st is International Day of Yoga. So, as a part of this celebration let’s explore how yoga can be beneficial to our little people.
Children derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility and strength, coordination and body awareness. Also, their concentration and sense of calmness improves with yoga.
Yoga for children is quite different than yoga for adults. The greatest challenge with children is to hold their attention long enough to teach them the benefits of yoga: stillness, balance, flexibility, focus, peace, grace, connection, health, and well-being. Children hate to be idle. With my toddler, I never instructed her to do anything, but she started following me on the yoga poses while I practiced. She was 2.5 years old when she first did the sukhasana—an easy pose, with simple cross-legged seated asana in hatha yoga.
Tips to Increase Your Kid’s Interest in Yoga
- Let them imitate the movements and sounds of nature while doing different poses. For example, if they are doing the cobra pose (Bhujangasana) let them hiss along with the pose.
- Mostly children love to talk, and they love to move—both of which can happen in yoga. You can’t except your child to stay idle and chant mantras while doing yoga. They can even sing their favorite rhymes or jump while doing the frog pose.
- We want kids to fall in love with yoga and incorporate it into their lifestyle for the great physical, mental and emotional benefits it has to offer. Keep it fun. Show them charts, picture boards or even ask them to imagine themselves as a giant apple tree while doing the tree pose. There by we can improve the imagination and cognition in kids.
Let’s now look at the developmental considerations in yoga for children:
Preschool Age (3-6 years)
Ideally total duration is 10-20 minutes. In that 20 minutes, focusing and creating awareness is hard in this age group. So, try to focus on awareness for 2-3 minutes. They can try doing Sukhasana (Easy pose), Boat Pose, Bow Pose, Cat pose, and Child pose.
School Age (7-12 years)
They can practice for 30-45 minutes. Poses can be incorporated in a story or game for school kids.
Yoga practices can be designed to foster developmental, preventative, therapeutic, and/or transformational aims. Developmental uses of yoga are geared toward nurturing inherent capacities and facilitating mastery, e.g., strengthening the physical body, increasing energy and stamina, building coping capacity, and enhancing attention, concentration, and memory.
Benefits of Yoga for Kids
Yoga provides training of mind and body to bring emotional balance. It is claimed that yoga leads to alignment and harmony. Yoga may contribute to healthy development and good mental health; health promotion for children needs to include improvement of their attention, self-esteem, empowerment, and self-regulation.