With the tremendous benefits I have seen in my daily life from practicing yoga four to five times a week, I decided that perhaps Emma could benefit from adding yoga into her life too. She’s super active and goes and goes all day until it’s bedtime (hasn’t napped since she turned 3). She really enjoyed the kid yoga at Great Wolf Lodge and will often do some of the poses featured in the poster they gave her at the end of the class. We keep it taped to the back of her bedroom door.
In passing, I’ve read about the benefits of yoga for kids and saw it being implemented in special education settings for both behavior modification and for warming the brain and body up. Out of the teaching sector for more than eight years now, I was happy to see how schools are beginning a push to include movement (yoga included) into daily school routines.
Pamela Wesson Daniels- the Founder, Owner and Certified Yoga Instructor at Little Belly Breaths based in Longmont, CO is one local pioneer for bringing the practice of yoga into schools and households. “Decades of research on empirically based mindfulness programs have consistently shown that children who received weekly lessons in mindfulness, even simple techniques taught at the toddler and preschool level, became better at sharing, had increased compassion and empathy, as well as increased optimism and overall happiness in the classroom, even months after the training,” Daniels said. “Neuroscience, too, has offered evidence in support of such mindfulness programs, reporting that brain training techniques, such as how to focus on breathing, movement, and compassion, strengthen the areas of the brain that are responsible for attention, emotional control, and problem-solving. Emerging evidence suggests that mindfulness-based brain training produces permanent structural changes in the brain. The BODY plays a critical role in learning and Yoga uniquely engages both mind and body in a way that optimizes the learning process.”
These are just some of the benefits the regular practice of yoga can provide for children.
- Learning body awareness
- Increasing concentration and energy
- Building confidence and self-image
- Managing feelings through movement, breathing, and meditation
- Helping reduce anxiety
- Enhancing fine and gross motor skills
- Regulating sleep
Here are some beginner poses that Wesson Daniels recommends for children.
“One of the best benefits of this pose for children is that it can help a child maintain better posture by working to keep his/her spine erect in a way that also engages and strengthens the core muscles,” Wesson Daniels said.
Forward bend poses are beneficial for calming both the body and mind. “Down Dog helps to reverse the flow of blood in a child’s body and helps to re-oxygenate the body. This is a natural pose that children are drawn to and can be playful and silly while providing lasting benefits,” she said.
Crescent Moon helps increase a child’s flexibility especially along the sides of the body. “This is an area that can be quite tight, which sets children up to be prone to injury. Keep this area supple with poses like Crescent Moon can help avoid common injuries,” she said.
Helping children both focus and remain calm, this is a balance pose. “The quickest way to be present at the moment is through a balancing pose because it is very hard to find balance when your mind is wandering. Balance postures bring you in to focus and develop alignment, strength, flexibility, and confidence,” Wesson Daniels said.
To help children become more strong and stable. standing postures, such as Mountain Pose, are beneficial. “The way you stand is the foundation for everything. Find strength and concentration in standing poses like mountain pose,” she said.
Emma participated in the monthly kid’s class at Studio Love in Erie, CO at the end of January (last Sunday of every month) while I joined my friends for a Core and Restore class. She will be going to the class at the end of February as well.
Emma’s take on yoga
Some of the poses are called funny names.
I felt silly doing some of the poses, but my teacher helped me.
You have to focus to do the poses correctly.
It was very relaxing.
I felt calmer after.
“We got to take a sweet nap at the end!”- Her words exactly!
I am hoping to find a way to implement yoga more often into her weekday schedule because I think she would greatly benefit from it in many ways.
To find a yoga place near you, head to https://www.yogaclassnearyou.com/yoga_classes_for_children.php
Adventure and Yoga On,