When I was a kid I spent almost all of my time playing outside. I built forts with scraps of wood from my dad’s shop and rusty bent nails I found in the junk heap. I went puddle jumping in the rain, and if I wanted to visit a friend I walked to their house, no matter how far away it was.
Kids today seem to have a very different lifestyle in the western culture. Their schedules are busier than many adult’s and there is growing pressure to succeed in school, sports and other activities. Schools are providing an ever diminishing amount of physical education and kids are just not playing outside like they used to. This lack in physical activity, paired with incomplete and improper nutrition, are causing obesity related health problems to be added into the mix. All of this added to the pressures from society and peers equals a great deal of stress on today’s children.
Even though kids might not be able to effectively express their feelings of stress verbally, they are still feeling it and need a way to release it.
Yoga is widely known as a way to reduce stress and induce relaxation in adults, but did you know that yoga is very beneficial for children as well? Kids may not be coming to Anamaya for a yoga retreat, but weekly classes might be just what a child needs to help them live a healthier and happier life!
I recently took a children’s yoga teacher training with Kidding Around Yoga, which is based in Florida in the United States. This 3-day training was led by the founder of this wonderful company, Haris Lender, and was one of the most informative, inspiring and fun weekends of my life! During this wonderful training I learned so much about how yoga can help kids and I am excited to share some of the benefits with you here!
How Can Yoga Help Kids?
Teaching children to relax their minds through meditation is essential to helping them calm themselves in stressful situations. Before a big test, a sports event or when parents are fighting, a simple meditation technique can be used by kids to help them cope with the stress.
Pranayama techniques can be used by children as well. Simple breathing exercises and games can be done with kids to teach them proper breathing while having fun. By making children aware of the power of a simple breath in a moment of stress, we are giving them tools for the rest of their lives.
Asanas, or yoga postures can be used with kids of all ages. Incorporating postures into stories, games and dances are a great way to make the practice fun and engaging. Different types of postures have different effects on the body; forward folds are relaxing and massage the digestive system, balancing poses improve focus and concentration, standing poses help with posture and strength and difficult poses inspire practice and boost self esteem.
Karma yoga can be taught to little ones along with the yamas and the niyamas through stories and activities in a kids yoga class. It only takes a little creativity to weave positive life lessons such as compassion, sharing and mindfulness into a yoga practice as well as into every-day life.
The list goes on and on in regards to ways to teach these principles to the children in our lives. Whether you are a yoga teacher or not, it is important to show children how they can deal with the stress associated with every day life in healthy and productive ways.
It it not necessary to have taken a 200 hour level yoga teacher training to take the 3 day Kidding Around Yoga training, but it is definitely helpful!
If you are interested in finding a Kidding Around Yoga teacher in your area, or becoming a KAY teacher yourself please visit their website.