Child Yoga ? What is All the Fun About?

Many adults have taken up yoga, but yoga has not gained as the same popularity with children. Child yoga can offer many of the same benefits to kids as it does to adults.

What can yoga offer your child?

A healthier body ? Childhood obesity is on the rise and one of the main reasons for it is that kids today do not move enough. Yoga is a powerful technique for children to begin moving their bodies in ways that feel good and help them look good. Even if your child is of normal weight, yoga can help her become stronger, gain endurance and flexibility. If your child is involved in another sport, a regular yoga practice is a great cross training activity and it may help him reduce the risk of injuries.

The ability to control stress ? Today's children are under enormous stress. They are often over scheduled, they face tough competition in school, they have to deal with peer pressure, and they are trying to find their way in the world. This combination can cause children to become stressed out. Yoga can help your child learn how to relax. When your child learns how to control her breathing and relax during her practice, she can then apply this to her world when she encounters challenging situations.

Increased self-esteem ? Yoga is a non-competitive activity. Yet it does offer your child the ability to master challenging poses (especially as he gets older). Your child can feel good about his increasing ability without having to worry about how he compares to everyone else. This experience of success can help your child feel more confident in his ability to be successful in other things too.

Greater concentration ?
The breathing and inward focus that is a main component of any yoga practice can help your child learn to focus his mind more effectively. A number of studies have shown that many children who practice yoga, especially those with problems such as ADHD, are able to concentrate for longer periods of time.

What is a child yoga program like?
The main focus of a child yoga program is on fun. Often the children will pretend to be the animal for which the pose is named. For instance, when they are doing Cat Pose, they become the cat and may even meow. If they are doing Downward Facing Dog with their butts high in the air, they will often bark, as they become the dog. The children are encouraged to fully participate in and enjoy the 'game of yoga.' Sometimes the instructor will create an entire story about the poses that the children are in so as to make the class interesting and to fully engage them. The children don't realize how much they are benefiting from the practice; the only thing they know is that they are having a good time.

Practicing yoga at home with your child.
While child yoga classes are wonderful, they are often hard to find. Depending on where you live, you might not be able to find a place to take your child. Don't fret. There are a number of excellent videos and books that you can get which will help you become your child's yoga teacher.

*Find a spot in your home where you have room to move freely.

*Establish an atmosphere of fun.

*Put on the video and do the poses together, hopefully with lots of giggles sprinkled in.

*Pick out some poses from a book that you can do ? have your child choose some of the them.

*When doing the relaxation exercise, talk your child through it by describing a warm, inviting place such as a quiet field near a bubbling brook with butterflies and singing birds. Use your imagination to create a safe and friendly space and help your child experience it in his imagination.

Child yoga is an enjoyable activity that can provide major benefits to your child. It will help her grow stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally ? and she'll have a lot of fun too!

Della Menechella is a yoga and fitness enthusiast who has been involved in fitness for over thirty years. Her website is filled with practical information about how you can make yoga and fitness a positive part of your life. Visit the site and get your free meditation e-book.

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