Oftentimes when we think about yoga, we think about it only as an exercise that adults participate in. However, yoga can also be very beneficial for our children. There are many mental, health, and emotional skills and benefits of yoga for kids.
Self Acceptance and Self-Esteem
Yoga can help to teach kids how to accept themselves and their body as it is. Many children suffer from body image issues and practising yoga can help them to resolve some of those issues. Yoga can also help to improve children’s self-esteem. As they learn new poses, and their flexibility and strength improve so will their self-esteem and their acceptance of their own bodies.
Ability to Focus
Yoga teaches our children how to focus on both their mind and their bodies. They have to focus in order to coordinate their breathing with their movements simultaneously. Practising yoga helps to teach children how to focus on the task at hand, and increases their cognition and focus when it comes to other aspects of their lives as well. In fact, many schools and childcare centers, have started using yoga classes to help improve concentration.
Strength and Breath Control
Yoga requires strength both physically and mentally, and when practised regularly children who participate in yoga will notice an increase in their physical strength, and also in their ability to control their breathing.
When children get upset, scared, or angry and begin breathing heavily, it increases the fight or flight response which can be detrimental to both their minds and bodies. Practising yoga helps children to learn how to take slow, deep, thoughtful breaths which are quite calming when they are upset. The breathing exercises that yoga teaches children can be very helpful in helping them to feel more in control of their bodies and their emotions when they become angry, anxious, or upset.
Coordination and Balance
Yoga helps children to improve their coordination and balance and encourages the development of their motor skills. As they move through the different yoga poses they learn to keep themselves balanced and hold their bodies in symmetrical positions. These improvements to their balance and coordination can also help them to improve their abilities to play sports like soccer.
Performing a few yoga poses before bedtime can help children to relax, get their bodies moving, and relieve stress. Many people don’t think that children feel stress, but this is simply not true. Practising some breathing exercises and stretching out their bodies right before bed can relieve any stress from the day and help them to relax and fall asleep more easily.
Teaching your children about yoga, and ideally practising it with them on occasion, can teach your children valuable skills and benefits that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
The stretching and breathing exercises, learning how to calm themselves when they are feeling angry or anxious, and being able to find clarity in their minds and focus will help them as they continue to learn and grow.
These are skills that ideally we would teach all children to give them the self-confidence they need as they head out into the world.
Check out our article on toddler independence and benefits of sensory play next.