One of my favorite things about yoga is the sense of inclusivity.
Though yogis may come in different shapes and sizes, everyone is welcome and encouraged to join! Even the youngest of yogis find the practice beneficial.
I remember my first yoga class: I was 16 years old and admittedly skeptical. I felt uncomfortable at times, awkward, even laughed or scoffed once or twice. But the feeling I had when leaving the room, that inexplicable yoga high that provides so much peace and comfort, was what made me return to my mat over and over again.
There have been debates and debacles about whether to introduce yoga to kids. I say, why not? If yoga provides so many amazing benefits to adults, why wouldn’t it provide equally great benefits to kids?
Here are 5 unexpected benefits of yoga for kids.
1. Body Awareness
Kids are constantly growing and developing, which inevitably means they feel a bit uncomfortable or awkward in their bodies.
Working through a yoga pose means becoming aware of the alignment of your entire body. Each pose focuses on different muscles and bones, giving kids time to devote attention to their body. The outcome is better balance, coordination and overall comfort with their bodies.
2. Focus and Concentration
When it comes to getting kids to focus on one thing at a time, most parents will tell you that this is a struggle. To be honest, yoga teachers might tell you the same thing.
However, the practice of yoga can be a fantastic way to curb these concentration troubles. With emphasis on breath and alignment, a yoga class teaches kids how to harness their energy to the task at hand.
Familiar with the sensation of trying something for the first time and feeling awkward and unsure? Know what it’s like to finally master your newest hobby? That feeling of confidence is exactly what kids will sense having mastered a new yoga pose.
Each time a yogi steps on their mat they will inevitably face a new challenge. With that challenge comes the success of mastering a pose. What better way to teach a kid confidence than to participate in an activity that offers new levels of learning each time you practice?
4. Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle
Remember your parents saying, “you can’t leave the table until you eat your vegetables”? Well it wasn’t to torture you, although it may have seemed that way at the time.
No, your parents were simply trying to instill values in you; values of a healthy lifestyle. Practicing yoga does the same thing, without the voice of a nagging parent in your head.
Kids who practice yoga will reap the benefits of exercise and stress release, which promote a healthy body and mind.
Stress doesn't only affect adults. Kids can absolutely feel overwhelmed and exhausted, too. Just like yoga gives adults a break from work, it also gives kids a break from all of the things on their plate. School, activities, family and friends… sometimes kids' lives can be even more hectic than their parents'.
Taking a break from all of those things to just breathe, stretch, and be a kid can be the most relaxing part of their day.
If you’ve contemplated bringing your kid to that "Mommy and Me" yoga class, go for it! Imagine if your kids could get the same benefits you receive each time you step on your mat.
Let your littles ones decide for themselves if yoga is right for them. My guess is, they will love trying something new, something that they enjoy, and something that makes them feel happy and peaceful.