Latest craze or enhancing our kids wellbeing.....
We were all kids once. Most of us reading this will be either practicing or considering yoga, as we’re reading up about it right now. Most of us as kids practiced yoga postures without even realising it. In trying to stand up, we crawled on all fours, we squatted, we bent over in numerous ways so we’d nearly done a sun salutation just to stand up! Handstand games, headstands on the bed, can you do the splits……. All of these are yoga postures. Maybe afterwards we sat and watched the clouds, or read a book outside; very mindful and meditative activities.
Then we grew up and essentially stopped playing. And when we do play – it’s online rather than outside. We sit longer at desks to study or work, developed habits in our bodies and lives which may not be so good for us and voila – we can no longer touch our toes.
We’re all aware that movement is key to keeping our bodies and minds healthy. Anxiety levels in young adults and children are on the increase, as are obesity, diabetes, etc. Kids are still active – it’s not all doom and gloom – football, dancing, rugby, cycling – and these all tick the boxes to help prevent the aforementioned, but if you’re an adults practicing yoga, you know the benefits it brings.
And it’s exactly the same for kids. In fact it’s easier, because kids are AWESOME at yoga. It’s the most natural thing for their bodies to do so all we need to do is encourage it. Sun saluting 3 year olds? Definitely – when was the last time you were a dog, or a cat? It’s the best fun in the world. 7 year olds practising mindfulness and meditation? Really…. yes….. A guided exercise, taking in a tree, it’s textures, it’s sounds, it’s smells, it’s inhabitants – just the start. Tweenies love a shoulder stand. The most surprising thing is that most kids crave savasana. Maybe I’ve been very lucky as a teacher, but once they get into the habit, a 5 minute relax is really looked forward to.
So the benefits….. movement frees up a lot of held “stuff” – energy, frustration, excitement, etc and certain yoga postures help more so with freeing up these feelings. Once we’ve freed up that stuff, we’re happy to sit for longer, in fact our minds and bodies are positively comfortable doing that as all that stuff that made us fidget and switch off is gone. We understand more about our bodies, ourselves and our environment – if we’re taught to breath as well as be a tree how can we not appreciate these things more. If we can practice savasana, getting to sleep on our own gets easier. And we haven’t got to body confidence and self confidence yet!
Encouragement is key. Forcing, like anything with a child, is far from ideal. I have taught lots of children who spend the first session sitting and watching, then the second participating a little and so on. The introduction of singing bowls and flowers to smell – encouraging sharing and breathing as well as inviting every child to participate in some way. Yoga is not just a physical practice on a mat after all!
So don’t write yoga for kids and young adults as the next in thing – it’s far from it – in fact they’ve been doing it for years! Encourage, enjoy and be a dog wagging it’s tail once in a while, it really is a lot of fun!
If you're interested in your child practicing yoga, I will be teaching at the Yoga Bar in Twickenham during half term, 10-12 each day and at Ember in Hampton Hill on Monday, 4pm onwards (starting 4th March). Marble Hill yoga will start after Easter in April which is also a family friendly session.