Parenting in today’s world is full of challenges. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel overwhelmed by their busy schedules and seemingly endless responsibilities. But, it is uncommon for us to think about how the demands of parenthood may also be overwhelming for our children. Our little people are strong and resilient, but they are often influenced by stressful situations just as much as big people.
Many adults practice yoga for stress release and relaxation. Is it possible yoga could benefit our youth too?
The answer to that question is: Absolutely. Research shows that practicing yoga fosters a sense of mindfulness that yields the type of physical, emotional, and behavioral reactions one needs to manage stress. Introducing children to yoga is not only valuable for relaxation, it is valuable for sharing knowledge, building confidence, and developing communication skills.
Many Asanas (yoga postures) were named after animals and plants because they were created by yogis who lived close to nature. When children practice these asanas they will use their imagination as they embody the movements of a cobra or a butterfly, and sharpen basic skills as they count to ten while standing tall and strong like a tree.
Yoga Builds Self Esteem
As a form of exercise, yoga is good for building coordination, flexibility and strength. What separates yoga from youth sports and other goal oriented physical activities is that it is noncompetitive. This creates a space for a child to experience control over their physical being and develop body awareness without any feelings of judgment or comparison.
Yoga Strengthens Communication
Children may not be able to understand the complex and dynamic systems of human anatomy but they can experience their brain communicating with their body through yoga. As they alternate between Cat and Cow, they will be actively listening to, and speaking with, their bodies. After completion they will be able to talk about the different physical sensations they felt, adding an opportunity for them to verbalize the connection between their mind and body.
Yoga is Fun
In addition to all the benefits mentioned above, let’s not forget that yoga is really fun. Kids deserve time to play and let’s be honest, a yoga mat is a playground. So next time you’re looking for something to do with your kids, drop down into Lion’s Pose, stick out your tongue, and let out a roar. Your pride will have some happy cubs.