If you don't know, now you know
Did you know that yoga can help children physically, mentally, and emotionally?? It's true! Research backs this up too (check out this amazing collection of resources for more info) and it's evident if you've ever spent time doing yoga yourself.
Think about how you feel before yoga and after yoga...
Does this seem about right? It's the same for kids!
Yoga can help decrease stress and anxiety, improve focus and academic performance, improve flexibility and balance and increase self confidence (just to name a few).
So why aren't more children practicing yoga or having opportunities provided in school or daycare settings to learn yoga and mindfulness?
Some of it comes down to misconceptions about what yoga and mindfulness looks like for children. I frequently hear, "My child can't do yoga, s/he can't sit still!" And to that I say.... bring it on!! This is EXACTLY the child who can benefit from and fall in love with yoga. A class designed for children is not the same as an adult class.
In a Silly Hearts Yoga for Kids class we move, make noise, laugh, talk, play, breathe, and learn about the importance of self-regulation and emotions all while having FUN.
The child who has difficulty sitting still or paying attention is exactly who should try some yoga, but parents' uncertainty of what a kids class looks like can keep them from trying something new. If you're ever unsure, just ask! A good kids yoga instructor should be able to engage your child and keep it interesting and developmentally appropriate too.
Another reason that more children aren't getting yoga in public settings (like schools) is misinformation about WHAT YOGA IS ALL ABOUT.
This is a common image of YOGA:
AND IT IS FREQUENTLY ACCOMPANIED BY THE SOUND "OM" OR THE WORD "NAMASTE" and the impression is that yoga is teaching religion.
While meditation, chanting, Sanskrit words and spirituality CAN be a part of a yoga class, IT IS NOT A RELIGION NOR DOES IT SUPPORT OR TEACH A RELIGION.
In a Silly Hearts Yoga for Kids class we focus on mindfulness, doing what feels good for our bodies and minds, and trying things that may be challenging or new. There is no chanting or use of words without explanation. No child is forced into doing anything. which makes them uncomfortable and there is no religious aspect to class. And, as always, if you're unsure or a school administrator has questions about how to incorporate yoga into a school setting, just ask!
So as you can (hopefully) see, the benefits of yoga for kids can be far reaching and support children's development at home and in school, while the misinformation can be cleared up by simply asking for clarification.
And again, a qualified kids yoga instructor will be able to teach in a way that meets the needs of the students without forcing personal views or beliefs on them. (So now you may be wondering...."how do I know if an instructor is qualified???" Well, hold onto that one as I'll be addressing that in the next blog post!)
So, try out some yoga with your child- at home or in a studio or other available class- and see the physical, mental, and emotional benefits right before your eyes!
Or perhaps your child is already doing yoga at home or in school...share some of the benefits that you've seen or are hoping for as a result of their practice!
Thanks for reading and remember to....
YOGA. BREATHE. PLAY. REPEAT.™
-AUDREY, SILLY HEARTS YOGA FOR KIDS OWNER AND INSTRUCTOR