Yoga promotes good health, flexibility, coordination and a sense of well-being. These are all great benefits for adults, and can have the same great effect on children. Kids often get stressed out by life, and sometimes don't know how to deal with that stress. Certain yoga techniques can help them unwind and let go of stress. Yoga can help by offering a diversion, as well as the benefit of learning self-control and how to relax by breathing deeply. Yoga for children is similar to yoga for beginners: you don't want to try too much too soon. Let your kids get used to the yoga poses before doing anything too hard.
- Start by introducing your child to yoga and explain what it will entail. If you practice yoga, you can teach him what it means to you, and why you do it. If you are both beginners, talk about what you will both be learning, and how you think it will help each of you in your daily lives.
- Go together to buy the necessary equipment. Your child will need a yoga mat and you may also wish to purchase a ball. Visit a local department store and look through what they have to offer. You may even find yoga videos and CDs that are especially tailored for children.
- Start each session with simple breathing techniques. Have your child lay on the floor with her arms at her side. Have her breathe in deeply while imagining the air flowing into her lungs and filling her belly. Next, have your child exhale slowly, imagining the air coming back out. This simple exercise helps with controlled breathing and oxygen flow.
- You can incorporate visualizations into the breathing exercise. Have your child imagine a place where he would love to be, a place that would be fun and relaxing. This could be lying on a beach or in a field full of beautiful flowers. Have him imagine the sounds and smells he might encounter in that place while executing deep, controlled breathing.
- Find some simple poses for your child to learn first. Remember to use visuals and make it fun. One pose you may want to introduce is the camel ride. Have your child sit with her legs crossed. She can gently grasp her ankles as if holding on to the reins. Your child should pretend she is moving with the camel as it walks. She should breathe in slowly while pushing her belly forward and head back. Next, she should breathe out slowly while pulling her head forward and pushing her belly back, so that her back curves outwards. Repeat until the camel ride is over.
The elephant is a second pose that beginners can easily undertake. While standing, have your child bend at the waist with his arms hanging loosely towards the floor. He should then put his arms together and lace his fingers. Now he can walk around the room slowly while swinging his trunk from side to side. Then, encourage him to straighten his body and swing his trunk high in the air. Elephant sounds are recommended!
- Have patience when you begin, and explain things in simple terms. In such a fast paced world, children may have a hard time just sitting still and learning to control their breathing. Be attuned to their mental state as you begin so you aren't rigidly controlling the session. Let them do more active exercises when they are energized, concentrating on the slower, more controlled poses when they seem calmer.
- If your child wishes to make up her own poses, encourage her to do so under your supervision. If she has a favorite pose, do it as often as she wants. Let her teach you as you teach her.
Keep safety in mind if she chooses to make up her own poses. Make sure she doesn't fall if she tries to balance awkwardly, and keep the area free of hazards. Remind her to use patience and to not push her body further than it will naturally go if trying to bend it at an odd angle.
- When it comes to visualization and chanting, keep things on his level. Let him guide you with his interests and keep chants simple. Remember, he may not remember everything you have taught him as the exercises proceed, so don't get discouraged or express frustration if he cannot remember the last chant you used or how to sit. Use gentle reminders.
- Keep your sessions as long or as short as your child will allow. Children often cannot take long yoga sessions like many adults have the capacity to do. Set up a few times a week when you will be doing yoga together, but keep the timing and the length of the sessions flexible. For children, a fifteen-minute session might be just right. Keep the poses short too, so they aren't overwhelmed.
These techniques should help you incorporate basic yoga poses in your kids' exercise routines. Remember to treat the situation as if you were teaching yoga for beginners. Good luck!