The benefits of yoga for kids, one downward dog at a time

January 18, 2016

If your daily workout regimen includes an hour of sweating and decompressing on the mat, you're not alone. Yoga has been around for quite some time and continues to increase in popularity around the world, not only for adults but for kids as well. Yoga is beneficial for all ages. Children who practice yoga have an increase in self-awareness, alleviating stress, self confidence and concentration, according to National Institutes of Health. It's time to consider incorporating yoga into your child's life.  

Yoga is beneficial for adults and children.Yoga is beneficial for adults and children.

What is yoga?
Yoga meaning "to yoke" refers to a practice of movements that connect the body physically and the mind spiritually. Taken from "yuj," a Sanskrit word, the practice of yoga has been evolving throughout time and has been around for thousands of years, according to Lululemon Athletica. Yoga can be practiced by anyone, but some classes like hot yoga or Bikram take place in studio rooms with high temperature and should be only attended by healthy adults.

Your child can start doing yoga as young as 18 months, according to Parents magazine. It's best to begin with a short routine or a more modified class for your little one's safety either at home or in a studio. Practicing yoga as a child is beneficial in ways physically, mentally and emotionally for the following reasons:

1. As a way to relieve stress
School, family and activities are all pressures of daily life that can lead to an increase in stress among kids, according to Today's Parents. Kids need to be guided through developing ways to handle and mitigate stress well.

"The parts of their brain that are responsible for the regulation of emotions and processing all of the things that are necessary for managing stress are still developing," M. Lee Freedman, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, says in Today's Parent magazine. Because of this, kids may allow stress to affect them emotionally and physically which could turn into mood swings, insomnia, or stomach aches.

To lessen this overwhelming build up of stress, kids should have the ability for down-time to live in the moment and find a calming way to reduce stress or feelings of anxiety. Yoga can be the solution because the purpose of each movement and posture is to allow the body to connect to the mind and clear overwhelming thoughts. Yoga classes aim to focus on consistent and steady breathing which can allow your child to narrow in and focus on the present moment. Breathing techniques can also be utilized and applied if your child is upset, throwing a tantrum or cannot sleep.

Practicing yoga can result in a sense of balance, physically and emotionally.Practicing yoga can result in a sense of balance, physically and emotionally.

2. As a way to become balanced
Kids have a lot going on everyday with hectic, busy schedules that could include school, piano lessons, play dates or family time. Having your child involved in these activities and social settings is great, but it's important for your child to balance each activity and also make time for himself or herself. The goal of yoga is to find a sense of inner peace and understanding within your child's body and mind through focus.

Your child's mind and body are mentally and physically growing constantly, there are so many new obstacles to face and things to learn, so it's important to be in touch with himself or herself. Through yoga, your child's mental state can be calmed and relaxed, according to the NIH. This state of mind will allow him or her to be more self-aware. Bringing a strong sense of concentration toward each yoga pose allows the ability to stay balanced physically and mentally. This will allow your child the ability to grasp and distinguish the importance of focusing on each task at hand, like the balancing of a pose. 

3. As a way to become stronger
Exercise and a good diet are crucial for a child. Staying active through physical activities and continuously keeping the body moving is key. With consistent practice, a child will feel stronger mentally and physically. Because each yoga pose requires strength, it can enable flexibility, healthy joints and circulation. It can also help your child's body by decreasing muscle tension, which can typically be caused by sitting around playing video games or watching TV for too long. Today's Parent magazine says.  

What are some kid-friendly poses to try at home?

  • Downward dog: Start with your legs and feet on the mat. Spread apart your fingers and push up with your feet so your buttocks in the air. Keep your head down and your neck relaxed. Form your body in the shape of a 'V'.  
  • Butterfly: Sit on the mat with your back straight. Bend your knees and have your legs to touch floor. Allow the bottom of your feet to touch. Grab your feet and continue to press your legs down on the mat or move your legs up and down and flutter like a butterfly. 
  • Tree: Stand tall on the mat. With tremendous balance, bring one foot to your calve or upper thigh so your leg forms a V-shape. Bring your hands to prayer in the middle of your chest.

Share this article:

Search our site