Kids Yoga Classes
What is kids yoga and why practice it?
Yoga practitioners have known about the benefits of yoga for many years. These benefits include relief from stress and pain, improved digestion and concentration, deeper and more relaxed breathing and a sense of balance and inner peace. Children experience these benefits also when they practice kids yoga. The nurturing atmosphere in a kids yoga class encourages children to relax and have fun while they develop strength, coordination, flexibility and balance. They also develop body awareness, better focus and concentration and self-confidence. Children learn best when they are having fun so each yoga class includes story, songs, games and yoga poses so it is a multisensory approach to learning, encompassing visual, aural, kinesthetic ways of learning.
Physically benefits of kids yoga:
- develop the right balance of muscle tone and strength throughout the body to support the joints.
- Builds core strength for good posture and overall physical fitness.
- Helps to maintain flexibility and mobility in all joints and muscles.
- Encourages the retention of calcium to help build strong bones through weight-bearing postures.
- Supports and strengthens the immune system by reducing stress and stimulating the lymph system (the body’s highway of white blood cells which fight viruses and infections).
- Improves balance, alignment and coordination with practice of postures.
- Helps children develop a positive image of their body and an awareness of how to look after it.
- Helps balance energy levels and calms the nervous system with twists that stimulate the spinal cord and regular practice of relaxation
- Develops sensory awareness – kids learn to notice what’s going on in their body and mind while they’re in postures.
- Yoga can accommodate all body shapes and sizes and is not competitive, so it’s a good form of exercise for non-sporty kids too.
- Keeps the heart and respiratory system fit and strong, encouraging better circulation by getting the heart pumping and using more of the space in the lungs with deeper breathing.
- Improves the digestive system with yoga postures that get things moving in the gut and by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system during relaxation, triggering important acids in the stomach to be released for breaking down food. That’s why you hear everyone’s tummy start to rumble during the relaxation at the end of the class!
- A reduced risk of injury in sports and games with better overall fitness and coordination gained through yoga practice and better flexibility in the joints.
Mental, emotional and social benefits of kids yoga:
- Increases attention span and improves concentration through the story structure, and the inclusion of multiple learning styles:‘visual’ through seeing the story and yoga performed, ‘auditory’ through hearing the instructions and the narrative, and ‘kinesthetic’ through feeling the body in all postures and connecting emotionally to the story.
- Kids build compassion and empathy for themselves and others through exploring the stories’ meanings in a non-competitive environment in class.
- More oxygen circulates round the body and brain during yoga practice and breathing exercises, so improving memory retention and learning ability.
- Kids build self-confidence because they can do the yoga, and by relating to inspirational stories and role models.
- The stories encourage self-expression with the use of imagination and creativity, physical postures and vocal sound effects.
- Kids get better at dealing with anxiety and stress because they learn to incorporate relaxation and breathing techniques into daily life.
- The stories support curriculum learning – especially Social, Personal, and Health Education (SPHE).
- Improves relationships and social awareness through group and partner work and role-playing in stories.
- Encourages healthy sleep patterns with the practice of relaxing the body and lengthening the breath.
- Increases confidence with speech in interactive parts of the stories and improves vocal ability as the voice is exercised in tandem with postures.
- Encourages joy and a positive outlook with fun stories and a happy experience during their yoga class.
When a child learns early that your breath is linked to your state of mind, they learn that they have the power to keep calm whenever they need to. Telling a child to take a breath is great advice but it takes some practice and time to learn how to do so and reap the benefits of using breathing to stay calm and balanced in challenging situations. Fun breathing techniques practiced in a kids yoga class will give the child this life-long useful tool.
Moving, laughing and having fun together is part of a kids yoga class but the relaxation at the end of the class is just as important and valuable. This time to go within, slow down, breath and relax their bodies and listen to their hearts is a very significant part of the yoga experience.
Meditation and guided visualisations
There is a strong connection between our body and our mind. If we are stressed it can be felt in physical ways in our bodies. Releasing this tension in a physical way through the yoga movements and poses help relieve tensions in the body and in doing so helps to release tensions in the mind also. Meditation brings children in to the present moment. Guided visualisations are very beneficial also. The inner images created during guided imagery have a powerful response on many levels both emotionally and physiologically. They are an excellent tool in creating positive change. They are a great way of bringing focus on positive self- esteem and confidence building.
The most important benefit of yoga is that it is fun! Children love having fun and kids yoga allows them to experience themselves fully in their own bodies, in the present moment. The benefits of mindfulness and fun are all rolled in to one creative class- that’s why kids love yoga!