We, as parents, know how stressful life can be. We have our family responsibilities, jobs, sports commitments and so forth, all adding to our stress levels, and that’s true for children too. They have their various daily activities, school pressures, and, on top of that, they’re just figuring out the ‘social’ playing field.
One way to help counter these pressures is by introducing your child to the practice of yoga. Yoga is a non-competitive, body-awareness activity that fosters co-operation and compassion, instead of opposition and discord.
Physically, yoga provides a wide range of benefits for your child. Yoga enhances
- ability to relax
When yogis developed the asanas many thousands of years ago, they still lived close to the natural world and used animals and plants for inspiration—the sting of a scorpion, the grace of a swan, the grounded stature of a tree. When children imitate the movements and sounds of nature, they have a chance to get inside another being and imagine taking on its qualities. When they assume the pose of the lion for example, they experience not only the power and behavior of the lion, but also their own sense of power: when to be aggressive, when to retreat. The physical movements introduce kids to yoga’s true meaning: union, expression, and honor for oneself and one’s part in the delicate web of life.
When teaching yoga to kids at home, there are a few general things to know that will enhance your experience. The greatest challenge with children is to hold their attention long enough to teach them the benefits of yoga:
Luckily, most children love to talk, and they love to move—and believe it or not, these things can both happen in yoga. Sound is a great release for children and adds an auditory dimension to the physical experience of yoga. They’ll love the chance to assume the role of animals, trees, flowers, warriors. Just step back and allow them to bark in the dog pose, hiss in the cobra, and meow in cat stretch. They can also recite their ABCs or 123s as they’re holding poses.
Children need to discover the world on their own, and telling them that they need to do things a specific way, or think in a certain manner goes against the principles that yoga stands for. When doing yoga, the focus needs to be on providing a loving, responsive, creative environment for your child to uncover their own truths. As they perform the various animal and nature asanas, talk to them and encourage them to really ‘experience’ that reality. When they’re snakes, ask them to imagine that they’re just a long body with no arms and no legs. Would they still be able to run or climb a tree? In the Tree Pose, ask them to imagine being a giant oak, with roots growing out of the bottoms of their feet. Could you stay in the same position for 100 years?
When they stretch like a dog, balance like a flamingo, breathe like a bunny, or stand strong and tall like a tree, they are making a connection between the macrocosm of their environment and the microcosm of their bodies. The importance of reverence for all life and the principle of interdependence becomes apparent. Children begin to understand that we are all made of the same “stuff.” We’re just in different forms.
If you choose to join them, the teaching/learning process will be even greater, and provide an opportunity for everyone to create and express themselves, and grow together. And I bet you’ll have a blast doing it!
If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it with your friends, and check out the rest of my website here (brightnbrainy.com)