The benefits of yoga for adults are well-documented, however starting young – even as young as 2 years old, helps lay solid foundations for their mind/body connection, good posture and flexibility.
Kids’ yoga teacher, Susannah Hoffman, let’s us in on 10 surprising benefits of yoga for little people …
I always ensure my classes with children are interesting, challenging and interactive. We play lots of games to improve motor skills and enhance creative expression.
There’s lots of laughter and making it light and happy means the kids look forward to their practice. They are always eager to learn and do more without even realising what wonderful health benefits they are receiving!
1) Develops Coordination & Balance
And maintains flexibility and builds strength. The varying postures – twists, backbends, forward bends and side stretches have a massaging effect on the body and tone the internal organs.
The digestive system works more efficiently, the nervous system is maintained, the spine is kept mobile and the joints and muscles work together to keep the body strong as the child develops and changes.
2) Enhances Concentration
Balancing poses are excellent for building concentration and focus. They also strengthen the legs.
3) Increases Confidence & Self-esteem.
Yoga is non competitive, in this ever increasing competitive world it encourages us that we are all different and we are all good at different things.
4) Improves Creativity.
Particularly in younger children – with its fun animal sounds and themed classes such as "Jungle Adventure" and "Seaside Trip".
5) Encourages Exploration
Visualisations help older children explore their intuitive nature and listen to their inner feelings.
6) Calms The Mind
It is also important to remember that as concentration is linked to breath length, it is physically impossible for children under 7–8 to concentrate for any length of time as their lungs don’t fully develop until around 8 years old.
7) Enhances Spatial Awareness & Co-ordination.
Movements such as reversed triangle, or any opposite hand to foot movements, can improve brain function by synchronising the left and right brain and increase the pathways in the brain. This also enhances spatial awareness and co-ordination.
8) Improves Confidence
Chanting helps them find their voice and express their emotions. A lot of children feel self-conscious about their voice, so chanting simple things like “om” or “om shanti” in a group helps to encourage them to express themselves. They also feel the calming effect from it.
9) Offers Tools For Stress Management
Yoga provides the techniques for dealing with the increasing academic pressures and peer pressure. The physical aspect helps produce endorphins that make us feel happy and the breathing techniques help slow down the heart rate and the relaxations calm the mind as well as the body.
Relaxation aids sleep and children learn better if they get a good night’s sleep, eat well, drink plenty of water and do regular exercise.
10) Self-acceptance & Compassion
Encourages self-acceptance and compassion for others by being kind, patient and accepting with themselves and others and understanding we are all unique and good at different things.
So if you have a boisterous toddler or an older child who needs a bit more movement in their busy timetable, a child with special needs, or just want to offer your children more meaningful social connection, then kids’ yoga may just be the activity. Lots of yoga studios now offer children's classes and some schools have recognised the benefits and have added yoga to the curriculum or check online for your nearest class.