Saturday, April 12, 2008

Perspectives on Family Wellness:
The Many Benefits of Yoga For Kids


--body + mind + spirit--

Our children have been born in an age where for many days are jam packed with full schedules including long days at school, heavy loads of homework and often too many extracurricular activities. It is critical that families incorporate activities and practices for kids that help them regenerate and center, to keep their health and spirit in tact. The ancient practice of yoga is an excellent option for children to generate improved well being through better health, increased energy and stamina and a deeper connection to their inner spirit.

Yoga is the right kind of exercise for children as it is gentle, non-competitive and works not only the entire body but also the mind and spirit. Children of all ages and physical abilities can participate.

Here is a partial list of the many benefits of yoga for children.


BENEFITS OF YOGA

  • It teaches children about their body in a fun manner. Yoga songs and asanas (stretching exercises) are approachable and fun for kids.
  • It helps negate the effects of the competitive life (and it's negative long-term effects)
  • It helps children to relax, concentrate and focus.
  • It builds stamina, stability and balance.
  • It helps improve digestion, elimination of toxins and circulation.
  • It strengthens the musculature of the body, elongates the spine
  • Children who practice yoga have a good posture.
  • Specific postures help relieve gas and constipation.
  • It improves breathing habits through pranayam.
  • It develops speech skills through the use of singing and chanting.
  • It improves sleeping patterns.
  • It improves memory and develops effective concentration skills.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of yoga for kids is that it teaches them the benefits, and gives the experience, of enjoying a wellness based activity that also touches their spirit. It asks the child to slow down, breath and listen to their inner selves - pulling them out of the mad rush of the world. This early influence can have lasting results inspiring a healthier lifestyle as a child matures.

The best way to integrate yoga practice into a child's life is to start early in a mommy and me program. Otherwise seek out programs that specialize in teaching children specifically; adapting yoga practice to their abilities, specific developmental stages, and attention spans. Be sure to ask about an instructors experience in dealing with children, and sit in on the first class or two.

Once a child begins a yoga practice, support them by practicing with them, and share in the enriching experience of parent-child yoga.



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