How does it work?
Although traditionally yoga is a grown-up activity, it is flexible enough to accommodate children when it is taught in the right way. As children tend to have a short attention span there has to be an element of fun in it, so there is lots of music, dancing and games.
Just like traditional yoga, children’s yoga involves a combination of exercises, postures and breathing techniques. Usually, a class will begin with a gentle warm up, followed by a series of stretching exercises. The teacher will then guide them through some different postures. All these postures have memorable names, like the lion, cobra and the tree, so over time children will become familiar with them and then more fun can be had.
Classes can last for as little as thirty minutes or if you want a bit more time to yourself, a longer two hour session. It offers a great chance for children to interact with other children, make friends, and of course do some exercise.
Before taking any child to a class, remember to check out the place where it is being taught and make sure that the teacher is certified to teach yoga to little ones. If in doubt ask the studio or the teacher themselves. If you’re considering a drop off class to grab a bit of me-time, it’s also important to ask to sit in and observe a class before the child starts.
Many classes will provide mats, so don’t go splashing out on one just yet. After all children tend to change their minds quickly – one week they may be eager to go, the next you might be pushing them out of the door. But if they do take a shine to it, it is very easy to pick one up.
It’s best for children to wear loose, baggy clothing as this won’t restrict any movement and they will be able to get into all those flexible poses that take adults years to perfect. Also remember to check that their feet are clean and odour free, because children’s yoga tends to be done barefoot. Most importantly remember to provide them with a bottle of water in case they work up a thirst.
Is it for them?
Children can become involved in yoga from as early as infancy. There are lots of studios that provide mum and baby yoga classes so it is something you can both enjoy together. Whilst they may not take much in at this age, by the time they reach three they will probably be ready to do simple poses. Many yoga studios now offer classes for toddlers and school-aged kids, which may include singing, movement, and talking. Kids have a lot of questions, after all, so the mood will be much lighter than an adult class.
The stretching, breathing and relaxation techniques involved in yoga are a great way for children to begin enjoying exercise and it will also help with their overall health and well-being. All the postures work to develop strength, flexibility and coordination skills and overtime continuous yoga helps to strengthen growing bones and increase joint movement.
It’s also a good way for children to learn how to deal with anger as certain poses like the Lion will teach them how to let it all out in a controlled manner. So it might help to put an end to all those nightmare tantrums and regain some peace and quiet in the family household – what’s not to love?
Good to know
Yoga has been around for thousands of years, but it is only in the past decade that children’s yoga has been addressed. It originated in America and is now a popular and fast growing activity in the States. But in the UK children’s yoga is very much a new trend.