How can kids yoga nourish your soul?
Kids yoga aims to encourage children’s capacity for calm, concentration, coordination, strength and suppleness. It is also a wonderful way to help kids to connect with each other and their emotions. Kids yoga is a more playful and interactive style of traditional yoga. It may include the use of games, animal sounds, creative names, stories and visualisations.
Kids yoga grew from children’s natural tendency to imitate yogi adults and is part of the curriculum in many Indian schools. Kids yoga evolved in the western world as schools started to recognise the rewards of regular practice. Renowned yoga teachers such as Geeta Iyengar, Satyananda Saraswati and Swami Sivananda all contributed to the cultivation of kids yoga worldwide. Montessori and Kundalini yoga teacher and teacher trainer Shakta Khalsa began to teach yoga to children in the 1970s.
Professional accreditation is not essential to teach kids yoga. Certification as a yoga teacher, professional liability insurance and a Working with Children Check are preferable for a kids yoga teacher.
Benefits of kids yoga
Scientific peer-reviewed research is highlighting the various benefits of yoga for all ages. Kids yoga has similar advantages to adult yoga with an amplified fun factor.
Some recognised physical benefits of practicing yoga include an increase in flexibility, muscle strength, muscle tone, energy, circulation and cardiovascular health. Mental benefits include enhanced clarity, calmness, concentration and self-awareness.
Kids yoga can, in some children, improve relaxation, sleep, empathy, memory, cognitive function, social relationships, breath control, determination, perseverance, self-regulation, independence and mood.
A growing body of evidence suggests that kids yoga could be beneficial for children with special needs.
One study found that it helped to sustain attention in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), while another reported improved gross motor skills in children with autism spectrum disorder who had average or below-average motor skills. The modality has also been applied as a complementary aid to conventional approaches for children with asthma and obesity.
Kids yoga may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Back pain
- Balance, stability and coordination
- Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
- Concentration, focus and problem solving
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Energy and vitality
- Fatigue, burnout and exhaustion
- Flexibility, endurance and strength
- Heart conditions and heart attack
- Insomnia and sleep disorders
- Love and Relationships
- Memory and cognitive function
- Mobility and movement
- Mood imbalances
- Muscle spasm, tightness and cramps
- Respiratory and breathing issues
- Stress and tension
- Weight control and obesity
What to expect from a kids yoga session
Kids yoga varies according to the teaching style. Generally classes are adapted to suit the physical, mental and emotional development of the students. Classes often incorporate age-appropriate names, songs, sounds and games to teach poses, hand positions, breathing, meditation and relaxation.
Kids can enjoy the social, non-competitive class environment which may have them assuming the role of animals, trees and warriors. Postures range from dynamic standing poses to balancing challenges and seated stretches. Classes often conclude with a lying down guided relaxation which may include non-sectarian affirmations and visualisations.
As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing kids yoga. If you have any concerns at all, also speak to the teacher, who will be happy to address these and evaluate whether it is a suitable modality for your child.