Yoga for children
The modern world, beset with lifestyle diseases emanating from stress and indulgence. It has realised the need to make kids familiar with Yoga to create a lifelong practice for overall well being.
Why do children need yoga?
India has had a long lost tradition of sending young children to stay and study in Gurukulas. Also in Ashrams where sages imparted life skills. In such learning centres Yoga was an important part of the curriculum. Supple bodies and curious minds very quickly grasp the rudiments of Yoga thus laying a firm foundation for a healthy lifestyle as an adult.
Kids need to practice
Besides that Yoga as much as adults since it moulds them for future fitness and wellness. As you know health of body, mind and spirit is endowed by Yoga and when taught to children it can prove to be quite a blessing.
The popularity of this unique form of Yoga can be ascribed to the wonderful Yoga benefits for kids that come with the practice, primarily that of strengthening the body and calming the mind.
When introduced to Yoga at a age when they are learning new skills kids learn to channelise muscular strength in postures. Inherent flexibility of their muscles is enhanced bringing coordination and balance to their developing bodies.
At the phase of life dedicated to schooling in various subjects, concentration and focus takes on vital importance. The practice of Yoga helps young ones to develop the art of single-mindedness amidst hundreds of distractions.
Your child can be hyper and energetic he need to be calmed down in order to focus. With the aid of Yoga calmness can be taught to little ones.
Qualities such as responsibility, empathy, social skills and self confidence can be instilled in growing bodies and minds with Yoga for kids.
Teaching yoga to kids
A Kids’ Yoga class is different from those designed for adults. They are more interactive and free flowing than a Yoga class for grown ups. Though breathing and postures form the crux, while planning a class for kids it is necessary to add play too.Game oriented session encouraging young participants to imitate animals after which specific Yoga postures are named is one way of catching their attention and keep them engrossed.
A Kids’ Yoga session needs to be flexible to accommodate queries and listen to their thoughts on the asanas being practised. Children have a fresh and unique way of accessing any experience and Yoga is no different.
A Kids’ Yoga teacher may discover an unplanned flow to the class when he or she is open minded and adaptable. What may suit an adult Yoga class in terms of orderly sequencing may not work for children with limited attention span.
Calm children with yoga
To calm them down they need to work out their hyperactivity with a vigorous warm up game. There cannot be a continuous flow of asanas which mark a Yoga class for adults. A Kids’ Yoga class will include breaks for games,recalling, songs or stories.
Pairing children to move into some Yoga postures usually works well. Besides that, this not only brings a refreshing change but also helps in developing qualities of cooperation and creates a supportive environment. Figuring out the best way to carry out a Yoga posture with a partner encourages children to be skillful in problem solving.
Designing a yoga class for kids
Children are eternally inquisitive and enquiring. A Yoga class meant for them should give priority to nurturing both mind and spirits. The questions that come forth should be answered with patience and love to encourage knowledge seeking. If given the right space and ambience, kids come up with unexpected insights and they should be respected. Most importantly, turning a Yoga class into a highly enriching experience not only benefits kids but more so their teacher as well.
Besides that, safety and fun is top priority in a Kids’ Yoga class rather than alignment so as to provide a positive experience of Yoga with not too much insistence on perfection.
Yoga poses for kids can be creative and fun
Considering the fact that kids tend to get bored very fast and keep looking for new things. Your Yoga class for Kids should incorporate asanas that are fun and exciting to do. As they progress in asana practice, pranayama and meditation can gradually be introduced.
Some poses that can be modified to suit adolescent bodies and minds can be listed as follows:
Cat Cow Pose/ Butterfly Pose/ Cobra Pose/ Cartwheel / Handstands – Allows dynamic movements which they can relate to
Boat Pose/ Bow Pose/Bridge Pose – Vivid imagery can be woven into fun poses
Tree Pose/ Chair Pose/ Puppy Pose/ Downward Dog Pose. Familiar objects that children see often makes for poses they can imitate from
Lotus Pose /Corpse Pose – Relaxing asanas that ground them and help practice pranayama
Observing energy levels and understanding needs create a flow in a Kids’ Yoga class which help in providing appropriate asanas; as also breathing techniques.
Creating yoga sequences for kids
In order to maintain a disciplined format within which kids can feel a sense of direction, thematic sequences are needed in a Yoga class. However, sequences cannot be too rigid and should allow for changes midway as and when the situation demands. As you know, plan a sequence to suit kids can be done through various platforms.
An example for a Kids’ Yoga sequence would be one based on an interesting story. A trip to the zoo can be incorporated as a sequence with each phase adapting a specific asana.
The kids will warm up with a jog around the hall preparing to board the bus waving and rotating their arms.
The journey to the destination can be woven into a simple Sun Salutation
Landing at a greenery filled place can be denoted by a Tree Pose
Try to Identify animals in the zoo with a Rabbit Pose ( Shashankasna). Camel Pose ( Ushtrasana) moving into Down Dog (Urdhwa mukha Shvanasana) transition to Dolphin Pose .
Finally, by sitting for Bhramari Pranayama to imitate a humming bee flying around you can hold their interest before they lie down in Corpse Pose (Shavasan). For relaxation indicating their end of the trip and time for bed.