Much of the talk about yoga is directed at adults. The benefits to health, concentration,
fitness, stress relief, sleep, and managing emotions. But it’s important we don’t overlook the
wonderful benefits yoga can provide our kids.
Kids today are often very busy. There is a lot of work to do at school and
much less play. There are lots of
organized activities and much less free time.
At the most basic level, yoga and meditation give kids a chance to use
their bodies through movement and listen to or still their minds. All this can translate to a new way to play, increase
body awareness, strength and balance development, manage stress and anxiety,
practice and develop emotional awareness, and simply be content. Just as for adults, the benefits are numerous
and deeply transformative. Try some
simple practices at home.
Yoga: Practice your favorite pose with your
child. Keep it relatively simple in
terms of balance and flexibility. Bonus
points if you and find a way to gently touch, like holding hands or the child
sitting in your lap. My favorite to do
with my kids is tree pose. Its
challenging and fun, and you can even pretend to be a tree, maybe swaying you
branches in the “wind”.
Meditation: Have your child sit or lay down comfortably with
their eyes closed. Invite them to
breathe gently and deeply, becoming very relaxed. Take them through a guided meditation. You can find great guided meditations online,
or create one on your own. Some ideas
for creating your own is to have them imagine they are a cloud, a leaf, a
butterfly, or a bird. Let them imagine
where they are, what it looks like, how it feels, what they see. They can create their own journey. You can extend this by giving them time after
to translate their experience into a journal writing or art activity.
Breath: Bunny breath is an amazing tool to use to
help toddlers and preschoolers calm down when they are upset or having a
tantrum. The key is to practice
when they are calm and willing and make it fun. I am speaking from experience when I say it
can work. Start with teaching your child
to take 3 quick breaths in through the nose, then follow with one long exhale
out the mouth. Repeat a few times and
you’ll notice the child will begin to calm.
It’s really rather amazing, as this breathing technique mimics the sensations
and release of tension that comes from a good cry, so you truly feel much
better afterwards. (It’s great for
adults too, when you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed!)
It is a great gift to the next generation to teach them to
be present in the moment and aware of not only their emotions and feelings, but
their reactions to them as well.
How do you bring yoga and meditation to your kids?
(This is part of a series of blog installments
for the A to Z Challenge. I will be covering each letter of the alphabet
as it applies to the practice of yoga, meditation, and self-inquiry.)