Yoga for Children is the best thing you can teach them. Their young minds are always curious to know and learn things, they are creative in their own sweet way in everything that they do, and this comes out naturally before society brainwashes them. Not only do they learn by playing, singing, moving, and imitating, but they also learn to wait, take turns, and by watching each other.
Kids yoga is something that inspires their curious minds to do imaginations to learn about nature, the environment around them, and helping them to learn about the real world. Monkeys jumping, bunnies hopping, squirrels working, crabs dancing, herds of cows walking, frogs leaping, learning about these and observing these develop their body awareness, language, listening skills, and cooperation.
Bobbing heads, moving legs, swinging hands while singing teach the kids rhythm, melody, and visual-motor coordination. Filling air in a balloon, seeing the buzzing bees, barking and panting of dogs, and hooting owls all prepare a child for the breathing techniques which are used in yoga.
A short relaxation exercise or an activity that makes the children zealous to close their eyes for a brief amount of time calms them down and prepares them for meditation. Team games, role-plays, and make-believe scenarios develop the skills of problem-solving, conceptual thoughts, and self-discipline.
At What Age Should Kids Start Practicing Yoga?
When are the three 3 years? Or maybe 12 years old?
Yoga is something that gives you profound power and grip on life. So if you ask when is the time to start… at 60 or the earliest age possible? You’ll probably know the answer.
In India, traditionally, children get into religious practice at the age of 8. They are introduced to Sun salutations (Surya Namaskar), Nadi Shodhana pranayama, and the Gayatri mantra.
On a wider aspect, seven years is generally considered a magical age to start with yoga. It is important that a child is offered many things, and yoga is one of them. By learning about it, they can make intelligent choices in many things in life. If parents or elders don’t give them these options, they are being brainwashed to believe that what they are told and exposed to is all there is in this world.
It makes it look like you are freeing your children but giving them the tools to balance their emotions, develop a sense of self, calm their nerves is the ultimate way to ensure that our next generation does not end up being disconnected from each other and the planet in general.
The reason for starting yoga at an early age is because they can grow into an all-rounder individual and not come crawling to yoga to fix problems with their mind and body at a later date. Delaying practising yoga is just delaying to reap the benefits of this ancient practice.
Yoga is a gift to Humanity. As adults, we fight stress and tension in many forms daily. But today, even children are as stressed as us adults. They cannot just take out the car and go for a drive or a drink, right? They too have to keep up with the competition that is just increasing day by day in schools and colleges, deal with the peer pressure, meet teachers and parent’s expectations, stay active in extracurricular activities, and also go through the difficult stage of puberty. As a kid, that’s a lot to handle!
What Kind of Yoga Should Children Learn?
Parents and elders often think that yoga for children is easy as they are flexible at a young age and can do any yoga pose. But it should be understood that there are simple forms of yoga for kids that they can do after the age of 7, and that is what they should be taught. For instance, children should not be taught ‘Padmasana’. Because when bones are still tender and growing, practising a pose that puts a certain amount of stress on the skeletal system can make their bones bend and take an uneven form.
Instructors and teachers who are taking yoga classes for kids are as such aware of what type of yoga posture is suitable for a child. The important thing to know is that Yoga is taught according to the requirements and situations of each individual, child and adult. Children should not be taught certain practices that are taught to adults.
Introducing Yoga to Children
Nada Yoga, which is the mastery of sounds, or the Yoga of using sounds, is a wonderful way to introduce to children the world of yoga. Nada Yoga is the simplest and easiest way for a child to begin his/her journey for yoga. Yoga will lead to the proper development of mind and body for children from a young age.
Apart from Nada Yoga, there are also practices like Yoga Namaskar, which can be taught at the age of 6 or 7. Up-yoga techniques can also be taught, and this something that both children and adults will find useful to do. Children may not notice, but their parents certainly can start seeing the benefits of practising yoga.
It will be visible that this can set the kids apart in a group in terms of capability, flexibility, strength, and maturity; they will naturally pursue higher forms of yoga. And as they grow up, their yoga should also grow.
Benefits of Yoga for Kids
Practising something that cleanses your mind, body, and soul is a benefit for all those who do it. Teaching children yoga poses, pranayama (breathing techniques), visualisation, deep relaxation, and meditation can help them to improve their learning abilities.
7 years old is a very tender age where kids pick up habits, good and bad, very quickly. It is observed that calm and self-assured children learn better and can manage their daily challenges more successfully. Morning yoga for kids is the best activity in which you can indulge your child. Other benefits of yoga for kids are:
- Promotes an optimistic attitude towards exercise.
- Builds self-confidence
- Improves flexibility, stamina, balance, agility, and coordination
- Builds strength and cardiovascular fitness
- Promotes positive communication and good listening skills
- Fosters self-respect, self-love, compassion, and respect for others as well
- Emphasises proper body alignment, so children avoid injury
- Builds cooperative skills and good social behaviour by working in a group or with a partner
- Strong and Continuous development of an immune system
- Encourages creative imagination and self-expression
- Positive effects on mental state and aids creativity
- Suitable for kids from 7 years onwards
Tips to Make it Easy for Kids to do Yoga:
5-minute yoga for kids in a day is a great start. Kids probably don’t like sitting still and doing something that is silent. They constantly want to jump from couch to coffee table and well everywhere. Yoga will bring that sense of discipline and calmness. Below are some amazing tips that you can adapt for your child.
1. Teaching Yoga as per the Age
A 3-year-old is lively and very excited; an 8-year-old would be mischievous, testing different water, whereas a 16-year-old would be serious and under pressure; there is a vast difference between these three and every individual. So the yoga poses that you teach and practise with your children should be according to their age.
The small bees would love stories, fairy tales, and imagination. You can swiftly move from easy yoga to the next. Kids who have entered school life would still enjoy the virtual picturisation and storytelling aspect, but at this age, they have also developed the ability and strength to hold poses for longer. So for 5 to 8-year-olds, they can begin to indulge themselves a little deeper in the difficult yoga poses.
Now comes a few big kids, 9 to 12-year-olds. They are inquisitive, curious cats and love to learn new things. They are fascinated by how puberty is hitting them and how their bodies are changing, so topics such as chakras, the elements, or issues related to nature are all great themes to keep them intrigued. These kids are zealous to learn a deeper sense of self and community by yoga.
Teen years are the age when the children need a lot of strength, stretching, and flexibility to reduce the stiffness. During teenage years, the yoga practise becomes more like an adult practice, as teens are ready to begin learning more advanced postures and aspects of yoga such as pranayama breathing and meditation techniques.
2. Watching the Time, You Practice
Young kids are super sensitive to the changing weather and energies of the day, so parents have to be very particular about the best time to do yoga with them. It is advised to do it in the morning; practising in the afternoon when they are tired and sleepy is not the best time. Yoga is always to be experienced in a positive demeanour, so late mornings are just perfect. This time, the energy levels are high for your kids as well as you, so children can manage the posture work and even high-energy stuff, which will help them go into an enjoyable and short relaxation phase.
3. Making Yoga Practice Fun
Music is not only restricted to dancing and singing only. You can groove to it while doing yoga too. Add some props, and the experience will be enhanced tenfold during your children’s yoga practice. To help your child connect more with the practice using fun, age-appropriate music with ‘yogic’ lyrics. Music can set the right mood, uplift, and relax your child depending on the genre and volume.
You can use props like feathers and scarves to show the kids’ breath and movement. Give the kid a feature on their palm and ask them to blow it off. This fun challenge is especially for small children as they will be the most amazed and will begin to master the art of directing and controlling their breath.
Another amazing example is to give the child a small handbell to hold and walk with it around the circle, mindfully trying to keep the bell silent.
4. Relax and Meditate
Lying still for a minute or two is an essential part of practising yoga. When you ask the kids to do so and narrate them a story of a beautiful princess with seven dwarfs,
bringing in the mean lady with a poisonous apple, and it will be enough! But after they hear you silently, make sure you are praising them for their patience and efforts. Small children have that in mind that they have to go to sleep as soon as they lay down. It is a difficult task for them to just lie down and do nothing. It requires a lot of encouragement.
Teenagers may need a longer relaxation period. It is not easy for them to let go and unwind, so more in-depth relaxation is the key. Teach them the art of Yoga Nidra as it is perfect for guiding them to “let go.” This practice will make them aware of their body and also allow them to feel their muscles relax.
You can invite them to lie down in Savasana or any comfy position they feel like. In between, keep reminding them that it is a relaxation period and not sleeping. Guide them to do some deep breathing to begin the gentle process of relaxing. Shake any of their body parts that you feel are very stiff and tense.
Depending on the age, or energy level of your child, you can slowly bring them out of their Savasana. And if you feel that to end this magical journey telling them a story would be special, then go ahead with it; take them to a castle on the hills, or fly in between the clouds to a rainbow or a journey on their own unicorn, you can be as creative as you want.
After The End, when you think the kids are ready, you can slowly ease them out of their resting state by instructing them to wiggle their little fingers and toes, stretch out their limbs, hug knees into chest, etc.
Meditation after an enjoyable session of yoga can be really peaceful and joyfully explored as the kids begin to allow themselves to find that mindful tranquillity. Chanting and reciting mantras are excellent for giving children an initial focus and help them find their voices.
No matter what fun and games your child gets after the yoga session, just remember that at the end of the day, it is yoga, and it will benefit them. Allowing your kids to experience yoga from a young age is an incredible gift. This will always add a positive aspect to their routine day, well-being, and in general, their lives.
Just trust your instincts, enjoy the company of your children, try that they also enjoy your presence and help. In the end, empower these precious little gems to be the imperfectly perfect person they already are!
In today’s time, yoga classes can be found in almost every corner of the city. Dance studios, clubs, community centres, camps, workshops, and of course, yoga studios hold yoga sessions. These can be considered extra classes, apart from the other effective ways to introduce yoga into your child’s life is in school or at home.
The best thing about practising yoga is that it does not require any special equipment or large empty space. In playtime, students can indulge in yoga for 10-15 minutes while sitting or standing. Yoga can also help students in reigning their attention and focus by doing simple yoga stretches, eye exercises, and deep breathing. Teachers can make academic correlations with yoga in science, physical education (P.E.), health, dance, music, drama, and visual arts.
From the age of 7, you can make your kids practice yoga; they need it !!!