YOGA for kids: 9 reasons why your kid could be the best Yogi
Today’s children get attuned to the bustling life their parents pull off right from their toddler days And by the time your kid is ready for kindergarten, you have a miniature rat racer who’s ready to take on the world. Of course, with a pygmy level of STRESS.
I’ve personally experienced the wonders of regular YOGA practice in helping me de-stress & keeping anxiety away, apart from weight loss. And when you discover something as beneficial as Yoga for health, you just cannot stop recommending it for the best receptacles of fitness – CHILDREN.
This #InternationalYogaDay, I really want to tell you why Yoga has to be the best ever life skill your child should learn.
Children are innately more receptive than adults to activities that involve body movements, play, music & fun. While it may be a little hard for some people to associate Yoga with play, fun or music, there are ways you can be creative in using the fun elements in there. Like anything as perky as the “Jungle Boogie” song playing along when the kids do a few Animal Yoga poses. Oh wait, I’ll mention them below.
I’d urge you to stop associating Yoga with outstanding acrobat abilities, if at all. Your child doesn’t have to be a prodigy to do these really simple Yogasanas (exercise postures), that you can teach from the very age of 2:
Lotus pose (Padmasana)
This posture calms the otherwise restless brain, helps to concentrate & is an ideal stance for meditation. It also helps keep the spine straight thus developing a proper sitting position.
Mountain pose (Tadasana)
Tadasana improves control over the parts of legs, viz the developing thighs & hamstrings.
Standing forward bend (Uttanasana)
Uttanasana gets the tender lower body muscles of children into a proper stretching & relaxing state. It, all the more, renders good flexibility along the hips.
Diamond pose (Vajrasana)
Vajrasana aids better digestion while strengthening the developing leg muscles.
Tree pose (Vrikshasana)
Vrikshasana is a fantastic pose that children will love to do. That’s because they’d find it interesting to act like a tree & spread its branches high up finally bringing them together at the top. It’s great to develop balance & gets kid acquire control over their upper & lower body as they keep the pose totally coordinated. The TREE was one of the initial poses ever my kid learnt at the school.
I specifically try to articulate the Tree pose to my daughter by illustrating it with a diagram like this:
Dog pose (Shwanasana)
The arch that this downward bending pose involves strengthens the arms, shoulders & calves. And as you bend making your head face the floor, you experience a nice rush of force along your head, which emanates an enhanced blood circulation around the head. So that gradually helps one just forget every damn hassle & de-stress at a good pace.
Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
This is, by the way, my favorite pose, that not only helps relax your otherwise stressed spine, but also makes your arms, shoulders & chest feel strong. Getting your kid to retain this posture for about 20 seconds while breathing gracefully will make him/her feel great about having done something refreshing.
Lion pose (Simhasana)
Well, this one’s is what I taught my daughter over the last week & she’s loving it absolutely. I particularly feel this pose would be loved by all children because of it’s primary action – roaring like a lion at the top of their lungs! Kids, after all, love making noise & Simhasana makes them do just that. It makes them feel empowered as they enjoy the freedom to make some noise undeterred. The lion pose is also one that prevents frequent throat infections in not just kids, but adults too.
Just look at the picture above & here’s how you do it:
- Sit in Vajrasana with your knees spread apart.
- Just relax & keep your spine straight
- Inhale & stick your tongue out. Look up between in the eyebrows.
- Open your mouth wide & exhale all while you roar like a lion (with the “Haa” sound).
- Hold the pose for 20 to 30 sec after you finish roaring.
- Repeat for 5 times.
Fun! Isn’t it? 😀
Warrior pose (Veerabhadrasana)
This pose involves a lot of stretching of the hands & legs, which is great for kids as they learn to master balancing their positions & correcting wrong postures of the back.
If your child has had the habit of hunching over his/her work all the time, the Padmasana, Bhujangasana & Veerabhadrasana are particularly the best poses to let go the hunching habit thereby prevent spine problems in the future.
Corpse pose (Shavasana)
Now this asana is a complete manifestation of the state of rest for both the body & mind. And it potentially helps children to realize the importance of resting, breathing & sleeping better. You’d notice that with time your toddler starts to break through erratic sleep habits.
To give the child an authentic feeling of this exercise, you could let him/her make a “hiss” sound of the snake.
Anulom Vilom (Breathing exercise)
Many children develop the habit of breathing through the mouth in their little years. I used to be one of them, by the way, until an uncle told me how a fly had once choked a little boy’s throat! 😉 And gladly, I was too innocent to believe it & not counter him by asking how a fly could not choke the nose otherwise. Something that my kid would have definitely asked now. LOL
Jokes apart, Anulom Vilom is a beautifully easy breathing exercise in Yoga that makes one perfect his/her breathing pattern & pace. You learn to breathe gracefully to the fullest, both when you inhale & exhale. Nevertheless, this could be part of the kid’s warmup or maybe, in the end of the Yoga schedule.
Children who are beginners with school tend to fall sick really very often & it’s disheartening for the parents who either resort to home remedies or make frequent trips to the pediatrician. While this is pretty normal due to their fragile yet developing immunity system, why not think of ways to avoid such incidences as much?
Regular breathing exercises, in ways beyond your imagination, tend to strengthen the respiratory system of your little one. This usually results in fewer infections such as common cold, cough, running nose, wheezing & throat pain. It also prevents the development of sinusitis later in life.
But hold on, will your kid really “Keep Calm & do YOGA”?
We all know the kind of effervescent bubbles our children are when it comes to following step-by-step instructions of doing any task. And for the 90% of the time, verbal instructions NEVER work. So, try to do the above with your kid(s) with their favorite rhymes playing in the background, because they’d usually not find it interesting enough amidst pin-drop silence or even some soft Veena music.
Why YOGA is at par with the other physical activities for your kid?
- Yoga poses, particularly the animal poses above, help the kid envision the metaphors of the environment around them. Doing a tree, dog, cobra, lion etc, would subconsciously let the child feel in complete harmony, appreciation & love with nature & its beautiful elements.
- Yoga is non-competitive in nature. A ‘Yoga competition’ is quite rare as compared to other sports that are part of children’s lives. Therefore, that gives them their own baton to master their flexing skills according to their individual abilities. So, nobody has to prove himself/herself the best in the crowd. Yoga is a skill where you don’t compete with others but what you could do the last week or month. It’s an essential art that you only improve upon as you reap its benefits for life.
- Yoga is usually done at a modest pace, which gives children their own time to learn as there’s no apparent hurry unlike a typical “school drill” ambience.
- Yoga, undoubtedly, is just THE exercise for children, because it encompasses every aspect of a complete sport – self-awareness, discipline, focus, respecting others’ abilities & improving every time. And all this in an extremely relaxed & enjoyable manner!
I usually don’t get to do Yoga with my daughter everyday as I rise way too early. Or sometimes, it’s in the evening we both have a bit of Yoga time together. Plus, it’s funny when she insists to share the same mat! 😀 But I’m glad that her school does teach Yoga to children as young as kindergarteners as an integral part of their curriculum, for which I shall always be grateful.
By the way, it doesn’t really matter whether they’re taught by you or at school as long as they start with Yoga as early as possible.
Because, isn’t Yoga a life skill?
Do let me know your thoughts & experiences over teaching your kid YOGA.
Wish you a very healthy & relaxing ‘INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY’!