Yoga helps kids to relax, relieve stress and anxiety, sleep better, improve emotional regulation, increase empathy, and improve their mood. It’s only natural for parents who have a deep understanding of the holistic benefits of yoga to want to share it with their children. But no one wants to force a way of thinking, being, or believing onto their kids. Gayatri Tagore,
an expert on Hatha Yoga discusses how parents can encourage their children to do Yoga.
The very first thing that parents with children of any age can do to is to begin sharing yoga with their little ones is to bring their own practice out into full view. Kids who see their parents doing yoga are likely to ask questions and even join in. Why tuck yourself away in a room? Yoga is meant for the living room! Invite the kids to climb on you, to swing from your tree pose and scamper beneath the downward dog pose. Not only is it great fun for them but it is a good way to bond with your children. While quiet time is important, especially for parents with young children, think of your practice at home as family time.
Turn it into a story
Turn yoga time into storytime by using fun child-friendly poses like cat pose, partner boat, table top, camel, and tree pose to weave grand tales of adventure. Of course, helping kids develop a meaningful relationship with yoga is about more than imitating animals with asanas. Narrating stories are a great way to get going.
The practice of Hatha Yoga helps children to align the spinal column, increase flexibility, and strengthen muscles, while internal organs are toned and rejuvenated; the digestive, lymphatic, cardiovascular, and pulmonary systems are purified of toxins and waste matter. It helps to balance the nervous and the endocrine systems and the brain cells are nourished and refreshed. The end result is increased mental clarity, emotional stability and a greater sense of overall well-being. A vigorous type of yoga, such as Ashtanga can help overweight kids to lose weight and improve their physical and mental health. Ashtanga sessions focus on challenging practitioners’ strength and flexibility while moving at a lightly aerobic pace. It also reduces depression and improves self-image. Pranayama and other breathing techniques should be introduced to children only after they have mastered the Asanas.
Finally, there will come a time when your children are old enough to take a yoga class on their own. Set them free, let them explore the practice on their own terms and with peers. Not only will it help them grow confidence and independence, but it will give them the chance to build their own community of like-minded friends. There are online resources available to find yoga classes near you.