Friday, October 7, 2011

Kids and Yoga

If you think yoga is for the thirty-plus set alone, it may come as a surprise that children as young as preschoolers actually enjoy striking a pose. While they do not attempt headstands, there are a number of simple moves that the young enthusiasts can perform. The exercises themselves last between thirty seconds to one minute, but children stay in a pose as per their capacity, which builds gradually with practice.

Many of the yoga positions resemble animal movements and elements in nature, which is why kids easily take to stretching their bodies like a cat or balancing like a flamingo. The poses spark the little ones’ imagination and promote awareness of their bodies’ abilities.

Instructors too afford children freedom to explore, and incorporate creative techniques and age-appropriate props to playfully lead them through the active and relaxation poses. So unlike in a class for adults your tots can flap their imaginary wings, make barking sounds in the dog pose or be still as the mountain for as long as they wish. In the process they develop strong, flexible bodies, better motor skills, and learn to calm down and focus.

Yoga also presents ways to overcome fear, anger and frustration. It has been found to aid hyperactive kids in channeling their impulses, and therapeutic in children with special needs. Thus this exercise system that dates back more than 5000 years fosters the overall development of children and unlocks their potential through the formative years. Yoga programs for kids offered across the country are providing that early start. From being a trendy discipline, yoga is gaining acceptance among parents too. In fact, some of the classes are open to parents so you have a wonderful activity to share with your child.

This is just the beginning. As your kids grow so do the ways in which the physical skills and meditation techniques derived from yoga can make a difference. An after school yoga session serves as excellent exercise without the pressure of competitive student sports. The holding of postures and synchronizing of breadth and movement enhance fitness. Hatha yoga which is the more widely practiced form in the West has several styles so there is flexibility in choosing a workout suited to the individual’s physical capability and personality type. For instance ashtanga yoga with it’s challenging sequence of poses performed at a faster pace is akin to athletic training while viniyoga is less demanding physically and focuses on precise coordination of breath with the movement of the spine.

Regular practice builds strength, energy and muscle tone, boosts bodies vital systems, and improves concentration and coordination. These benefits help your child be a better sportsman as well as a better student. Beyond that, the essence of yoga is to bring the mind and body together to attain inner peace so it promotes self-appreciation, serenity and a sense of balance. Hence your preteen or teen acquires the inner resources to cope with the stresses of adolescence, keeping disorders and addictions at bay.

Even if you may not know much about yoga it is not difficult to bring home it’s many positive effects to your family. Towards this end you can attend a yoga class taught by a qualified instructor or self-study using books and videos. Resources such as The Yoga Site (http://www.yogasite.com) and Yoga Journal (http://www.yogajournal.com) educate on the philosophy and practice of yoga, guide you on how to perform various poses as well as assist in locating a teacher in your area.

When practicing the postures with your four year old or your twelve year old at home a little bit of improvisation and spontaneity keeps the workout interesting and it becomes an activity that they look forward to doing with you. As you interact at their level, you will find discovering yoga with your child to be a rewarding experience in more ways than one.

Originally posted on CharlotteMommies

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