Yoga For Children

The idea that only adults can benefit from the mindful practice of yoga is a common misconception. Children are naturally attuned to the playfulness and open movement of yoga and it has just as many benefits for them as it does for adults.

As adults we don’t often consider our children to have very stressful lives but with the constant pressures of parents, siblings, school, friends, sports, lessons, homework, and so forth, to attend to - they have just as much on their plates as we do. So it’s extremely beneficial for young children to have an opportunity to slow down and take the time to be aware of their growing bodies. Its also thought that children that develop a yoga practice at a young age are less likely to have any serious self esteem or body image issues as those who don’t might.

It’s important to remember, however, that yoga with children - especially younger children, is not quite the same as yoga with an adult class. Younger children are far more likely to want to talk, get up and move around, or be distracted during a class so it’s important that your expectations are slightly different. If you’re used to your class being perfectly silent, with everyone doing their poses in a quiet rhythm of unison you’ve got another thing coming with a children’s yoga class.

Children are naturally inclined to use their bodies as a part of their play where adults are more likely to activate their minds as a form of entertainment. So when in a setting such as a yoga class where the focus is on doing a repeated series of movements - an adult will naturally turn inward and begin to tune into their own self-dialogue. This is great for an adult as it is usually the first step in quieting the mind. However a child that doesn’t spend hours a day in self-analyzing thought will immediately turn outward and focus on the world around them. That may include interacting with their environment (read: playing with their yoga mat or other props) or with others (playing, talking, and laughing with the other children). All of this is perfectly natural and should be encouraged as a form of play. No child is going to want to come back to your yoga class if they’re constantly being “shushed” or disciplined.

Instead the best route with children is usually to open up to a more free-form practice of yoga. One that includes, dancing, playing, singing, story-telling, and other such activities and blends with the poses is usually quite successful with children. This allows children to tune into their natural state of being one with their bodies opens them up to having fun in a noncompetitive way that’s different from sports or school activities.

Children can also benefit from the many health benefits of yoga just like adults can. The practice of learning how to breath properly can assist young children with asthma. The many poses can help children learn balance and hand-eye coordination as well as keeping them strong and healthy.

There are also many classes that offer yoga for children to attend with their parents. These classes are usually geared toward parents with a certain age range of children such as infants, toddlers, preteens etc. Such classes can provide a unique bonding experience between parent and child and are often very helpful in forming a relationship and providing a weekly activity to engage in.