Yoga for all the Family
When you first think of what a yoga class is like, what comes to mind? Calm environment, where there is minimal talk, everyone on their own mats, in their own space. All in a line?
Now when you think about yoga for children what do you think? …First thought is normally chaos! And it is not far off but then we do things a little different in children’s yoga
Yes we focus on similar things, stretching, strengthening, breathing and balancing, and the effects can be just as, if not more powerful for little ones. There is a world of benefits to yoga for all of us to discover young and old.
The approach to yoga with children is very different. They are colourful, it can be noisy as a herd of elephants can be silent and still like as a mouse. Yoga can be done at any time, depending on what is needed, when you need children to be alert and concentrating, get lots rid of excess energy by lots of movement. But then when you need them to sleep maybe quieter breathing practices. Shorter sessions are better than longer ones.
In children’s yoga we tell lots of stories. There is a big emphasis on story-telling, playing, and creatively working together. With really little children, babies and toddlers, it is easier to work with the sounds, singing and repeating actions and songs.
As children get a little older they can help you make up stories. In an adult yoga class you may be led quietly through a series of yoga postures, but here we go on journeys, we weave and story tell around the yoga postures, identifying them by their name and their nature. So instead of focusing deeply on the physical alignment, keeping your balance in tree posture, we grow from tiny seed and grow and grow till be a big tall trees in the forest, when the winds blows we try to stay up tall but some may fall down. Inspiring their creativity to create their own stories and colour their own imagination. Which sounds more fun?
The idea is to make yoga, movement and body awareness fun, so rolling ourselves up in yoga mats and using yoga blocks as stepping stones, the end result is the same. Children already have that beautiful inner light and love that shines, yoga just reminds them how to keep it as they grow.
When yoga was developed 1000’s of years ago, as a human race we were a little more connected to yoga, that is why many of, the yoga postures are named after animals, insects and nature. Children have a great infinity with nature and love to act out the lions and snakes. what we can learn from these postures, not only how we can move and twist our bodies to look like these animals but how they act, it is important that we learn that the lion is fierce and noisy and can be quite scary but also that he can be a tired sleeping lion snuggled up to his brothers and sister. Important lessons in life to handle emotions, knowing when it is ok to be angry and when to retreat and be calm. This connection with nature also help children to connect to the world they live in, things that they already do, it is as adult we forget how to wonder at the leaves and the clouds.
By introducing yoga at a young age, and by making it accessible to them, you can open up a world of life skills.
Physically- As we move our bodies we know we can become stronger and more flexible, but also aware of how our body works. Learning body awareness at a young age, not only develops co-ordination, but can bring a deeper awareness to their own health.
As children develop into teenagers this is especially important, to establish good posture, healthy eating, these all help balance changes in hormones and emotions.
Children often wear their emotions on the surface which is great to know when they are happy or sad, but exploring themes in yoga by breathing, moving and identifying emotions, children can learn tools to help calm themselves or express themselves when they are upset. As yoga is a non-competitive activity, it helps to develop self-esteem and confidence. Great for those who or ‘not sporty’ but also helps develop compassion to those around you, helping each other on the way.
Many people come to yoga for a variety of reasons, many to work just with the body, others to release stress and anxiety. But why would children need stress relief or to fix their posture? In busy world, we forget that extra pressures in our lives have an effect on children. If you are worried they can pick this up, and also all the extra technology we use to help our lives, can have an over-stimulation effect on them.
Learning from a young age how to release tension from the body and how to breathe deeply, and be kind to each other, can only but set children on a positive journey to adult hood, setting a new generation into Caring, compassionate and self-aware young people.