Yoga for kids is one of today's fastest-growing specialty styles. Classes for young people, from babies all the way through teenagers, are being taught in yoga studios, schools, and recreation centers all across the U.S. as more and more people learn about the benefits of yoga for the younger set.
Kids yoga emphasizes body awareness, coordination, and stress relief through simple poses and breath work. The classes are meant to be fun and engaging. Many include singing, dancing, and storytelling.
Why Kids Need Yoga
Children usually lead pretty carefree lives. They're unburdened by the constraints of 9-to-5 jobs, finances, relationships, and health care. But that doesn't mean their lives are totally stress-free. In fact, kids today are busier than ever. They've got full schedules, academic demands, and social obligations. Not to mention potential family stresses, like divorce or illness. All of these examples result in overstimulation and stress!
Kids who practice yoga gain all of the well-known benefits, which include increased strength, flexibility, and relaxation. In addition, they'll gain life-enhancing skills they can use off the mat, such as positive body image and creative problem-solving. Since they're naturally curious about their bodies and movement, learning the poses comes easily. Plus, it's non-competitive and fun! Parents may be happy to learn that yoga can help children increase their ability to focus and hold attention, which can even result in better grades.
Below is a brief overview of yoga classes for children, during each stage of development.
Yoga for Babies
These classes are done with a parent or guardian. Usually they are referred to as "Mommy & Me" classes, although daddies and aunties and uncles are typically welcome, too. These classes are geared toward providing the parent (or caregiver) with relaxing movement and time to bond with their baby. Sure, brand-new babies can't actually practice yoga poses or breath work. That doesn't mean parents can't learn some gentle hands-on moves and massage techniques to encourage relaxation and body awareness in the little one.
Yoga for Toddlers
Once children are able to hold themselves upright and move around on their own, they're ready for yoga! Toddlers are natural yogis, often drawing themselves into yoga poses without any guidance. Their attention spans are quite short, so these classes usually include a myriad of fun extras, including dancing, games, songs, and storytelling. Like an adult yoga class, these will end with a relaxation pose like Savasana (Corpse Pose), to encourage peace and stillness in their young minds.
Yoga for Children & Adolescents
As children continue to grow and gain strength and flexibility, yoga can really begin to open up for them. Yoga poses in these classes often mimic animals ("Elephant" Pose), plants ("Seed" Pose), and vehicles ("Airplane" Pose) to encourage playful learning. The poses help with neuromuscular development, balance, and coordination, which can help reduce the possibility of injuries — especially if they're playing sports! Yoga can also help build confidence and social ease while learning nonviolence and respect for others, and it encourages an interest in a healthy, fit lifestyle.
Yoga for Teens
Teens who practice yoga gain many physical benefits to help ease their way through hormonal swings and surges. The deep relaxation helps to promote better sleep, while the breath work and flow of poses helps to balance energy in general. Yoga also helps teens develop self-discipline and strength of character, while reducing the stress and anxiety that may be caused by peer pressure or academic demands.
Nurture Your Children's Growth
Through yoga, children can exercise, play, and learn about their inner selves. They can undergo a growth process that can result in a new generation of peaceful, confident, and strong young people. No matter if you're a parent, aunt or uncle, or friend of the family… you can help change a child's life by guiding them toward the positive path of yoga.