Today we’re thinking about all our parents, educators and anyone who works with children. Have your kids ever tried to climb on your mat with you, or watched with eager eyes as you practice yoga? If you’re a teacher, do you ever find yourself in need of a way to help your little ones release some stress in a controlled fashion? If you’ve never tried teaching your kids a yoga pose, now’s the time.
Children live in the fast-paced world of busy parents, school pressures, after-school hobbies, competitive sports and more. Encouraging them to develop a yoga practice can help counter these stressors. Starting yoga early is a wonderful habit for children. Yoga encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a non-competitive physical activity. It helps them feel more focused, calm and confident. From antsy five-year-olds to exhausted fourteen-year-olds, yoga offers a handful of benefits that help kids re-energize, release stress and increase their self-awareness.
5 tips for teaching your children yoga:
- Focus on the basics– Start with simple poses, such as Downward Dog, Tree Pose or Warrior II. Show them the proper form, but expect quite a bit of wiggling and mistakes as they learn. If you have a group of children you’re teaching, try a form of duck-duck-goose to quiz them on the names of a few poses.
- Get them their own yoga gear – Let them pick out a fun pair of leggings or a yoga mat. This way, they can begin making their practice their own – they’ll be excited to roll out their own mat and get jiggy with their down dog.
- Play with animal poses– At young ages, children are naturally quite flexible. Ask them to go further in their poses (when they’re ready). To get started try Butterfly, Cobra, Happy Baby and Tree as these will likely resonate with children. They have the chance to be more playful and silly as they try to maintain balance, roll around, giggle, and try again.
- Share mindfulness techniques– Allow them to find the present moment and engage with the surroundings around them with their eyes closed. Notice sounds, scents, tastes, energy points etc. they see if they can find deeper breathing without straining or trying to hard.
- Keep it lighthearted– For young children, you can’t expect their attention spans to last as long as yours. (We’re sure you already know this) Aim for five-ten minute intervals, mixed in with some fun breathing and mindfulness training.
Once you teach your children the basics of yoga and mindfulness, they can begin to incorporate the beloved practice into their own daily lives. Help your little ones realize that movement and mindfulness is a great release from frustrations at school or in their relationships. Show your older children the value of yoga as a stress reliever from the competitive nature of school, sports and clubs.