5 ways Yoga can help kids in a challenging and changing world
Yoga for kids is becoming more and more popular. I love teaching yoga to kids, and from my experience of teaching yoga to kids in schools and at the yoga studio, here are 5 reasons that I am sure it’s around to stay.
Yoga philosophy adopts acknowledgement, appreciation and gratitude for all that we have and all that we receive. Gratitude practise also helps the young to understand the context around their experiences and all of the efforts that go into making things appear the way that they find them. For example, all of the efforts that go into their afternoon school clubs, or play dates with their friends.
Yoga can help to build self-love, and guide the young to appreciate and love themselves from the inside. Self-love guides acceptance within, having a ripple effect to our surroundings and overall happiness.
Mindfulness practise helps kids check in with the way they feel and become in touch with their emotions. This applies to both positive and negative emotions.
We can teach kids how to recognise happiness and joy as we tune in to what makes us feel happy and lets our light shine its brightest. What is that feeling of happiness, and can we feel the contentment, in simply being.
These days, with technology, the media and constant comparison, even young kids are experiencing anxiety. Furthermore, in the height of a global pandemic, kids may feel sadness or alone, especially if their surroundings are shifting and changing. Yoga practise can help kids to know it is ok to feel the way that they do, to understand that they are not their emotions and to accept that sometimes they may feel a certain sadness, and that it is healthy to talk and share the way that they feel.
Emotions can be otherwise pushed away and ignored, and, in some cases, they can show up later in a compounded format.
In yoga we teach kids how to use breathing exercises to help with calming and slowing down our minds so that we can better handle those situations that fire up our sympathetic nervous system, fight or flight.
Flexibility in the mind
In a world full of different people, cultures and environments, and many situations where we have no control over the outcome, yoga can help kids to be understanding and accepting. Furthermore, kids learn to be creative, resourceful an innovative.
As they grow up, kids begin to understand that some situations are out of our control, like the weather, as a basic example. When the weather is bad (or there is a global pandemic), it may cause us to have to cancel plans, for kids, that might be play dates with friends, we have the option to be miserable and do nothing, or to make the most of what we do have.
We can choose to make the most out of the situation that we are in, whether we would have chosen it for ourselves or not, and accept this moment, as if we had actually chosen it. We can use our creativity to come up with ways to be able to still do the original plan, but perhaps in a different way, or we can come up with a completely new idea, and perhaps learn some new skills along the way.
Becoming in touch with the body
Yoga teaches mindful and fun movement. On a physical level, it helps to build strength, balance, co-ordination, a sense of direction and spatial awareness.
Yoga practise can help children to build awareness and acceptance of their own unique bodies. Learning we are all so very different and not to be compared.
Leave your ego at the door! It’s a sport, but it is not competitive. Therefore, children can get a sense of improvement and growth, (which they can strive for in other areas of life) without placing judgement, comparison or attachment to goals.
Focus and concentration
Yoga, breathwork and mindfulness all require attention to the task, to the present moment.
Yoga, in particular, requires kids to concentrate deeply on each posture that they learn, finding an inner focus and presence. When we learn to focus on the breath, we sharpen our most powerful tool, our mind.
When kids are able to concentrate for longer, they can take that skill with to school and for all the other tasks that they might do at home. They might also start to notice how helpful it can be to give a task full focus and concentration as they reap the benefits of focus. The more they focus, the more they will strengthen their focus.