I am passionate about yoga, especially kids yoga.
Yoga is an ancient art form of Asana (poses), Pranayama (breathe) and Mediation (self awareness) gifted to us from Indian sages from over 3000 years ago. Whilst this practice was once only handed down from teacher to student and was a closely guarded secret, the new world – our world – depends upon it.
A yoga practice can help a person have a better understanding of themselves and the world around them or if you choose, set the path to spiritual enlightenment. Either way you use it, our society today is in desperate need for inner awareness.
As author and yoga teacher Gregor Maehle says, in his book Samadhi, “There is no more time for such secrecy. At the root of many global crises humanity faces today, I see foremost a spiritual crises; that is, we do not know who we are…”
I believe that a yoga and mindfulness practice is the key to peace and a better world.
For these reasons, it is our duty as humans living on this Earth to introduce this practice to the next generation. Imagine having learnt the foundations of yoga as a child, how differently you would tread this world today?
The benefits of yoga for kids
1. Self awareness
Yoga can be a wonderful tool for discovering the real self. Children can develop a physical awareness of their own bodies with the yoga postures but also develop inner, self awareness tools like empowerment and self love.
Slowing the mind down with meditation practices can help a child think more rationally, understand themselves better and become more aware of their feelings and emotions.
Stillness gives a sense of peace and calmness, an important tool for lowering the heart rate and living mindfully. This will help with stressful situations children may come across in the future.
2. Yoga is good for our physical body
Yoga develops strength, helps coordination, enhances flexibility and improves balance. Even though yoga can appear to look like a low impact exercise, in actual fact it is quite the opposite. With core focus and challenging poses that can include cardio, yoga is a strength building, highly active physical exercise, which is important for growing bodies.
3. An overall healthier system
Yoga can benefit the overall health of a child, developing and boosting the immune, nervous, glandular, digestive, lymphatic, skeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular and circulatory systems with certain yoga poses and breathing techniques. It is a whole, holistic practice. Many yoga poses are actually designed to massage the internal organs which promotes inner health.
4. Concentration, Focus and memory
Kids have amazing memories, just like sponges, but the trick is to encourage them to slow down long enough to focus on what they need to absorb! Breathing techniques, stillness and awareness encourage children to do this, developing a good sense of concentration and focus through balance poses and memory retention.
5. Creativity, imagination and Wonder
Children learn quickly when things are fun and exciting, therefore kids yoga classes are generally taught with an element of adventure and fun. This in turn develops and nurtures a child’s imagination and creativity.
As well as self-confidence and self-love, there is also an emphasis on compassion, acceptance and respect for ourselves, each other and the natural world around us. In Patanjalis 8 limbs of yoga Ahimsa, one of the Yama’s, means do no harm, a respect for all living thing.
A kids yoga class promotes compassion through team building, visualisations and mediations. In Buddhism, this is called Metta, a meditation focused on the development of unconditional love for all living things. With these teachings a child will search out the world from the heart, being aware of everyone’s place in the world, not just theirs alone. We are all apart of each other.
This planet now holds 7 billion human beings. Self-awareness, being mindful of how much we consume and how we choose to live is more critical than ever. We owe it to ourselves, our children and our planet to be the best we possibly can. A yoga practice is crucial to a child’s health and well-being, but also this self awareness can highlight the effect of their actions on the world around them, just like the ripple effect after a stone being thrown into a pond!