10 benefits of yoga for kids
Updated: 2 days ago
Our children live in a very different world compared to the time when we were kids. When I was growing up, yes, I remember having a TV but there was no iPhone, no iPad. There was no social media like Facebook. The world has become such a faced-paced, competitive place and kids are spending more and more time indoor and increasing time on screens. Over the last 6 years of teaching yoga to children, I have seen many children suffer from stress & anxiety. I’m not talking only about teenagers but little ones as young as 5 or 6…What kind of world has this become? I have seen how yoga & mindfulness had transformed hundreds of children’s lives. I love seeing those happy smiley faces at the end of each class. There are many benefits of starting yoga early so today I wanted to outline 10 main benefits of yoga for children.
1. Manage stress and anxiety
Breath awareness and relaxation taught in a yoga class help little ones to let go of physical, mental & emotional tensions they have accumulated daily. They also learn that they are not their thoughts. They are not thoughts of others either. All of these help them manage their stress and anxiety.
2. Build confidence and self-esteem
Some poses like backbends that open their hearts help them feel more confident in themselves. Yoga is not competitive and available to anyone. There is no comparison, no judgement on the mat and this environment may help children develop self-esteem especially if they are used to being compared with others in competitive sports.
3. Increase focus and concentration
Yoga teaches children to be in the present moment. And to stay present with each breath, each inhalation and each exhalation. They learn to be fully present in their body as they stay in each pose. Repeated practice of balancing poses like tree helps them to sharpen their focus and develop better concentration skills.
4. Promote self-acceptance
Non-competitive nature of yoga allows children to develop the attitude of self-acceptance. It’s the practice of exploring bodies, learning how right side feels a bit different to left and that’s all ok. It’s the practice of accepting your body for just the way it is. There is no forcing. There is no need to “fix” your body in any way on the mat!
5. Increase body awareness
Yoga allows them to feel into each part of their body. It’s the practice of feeling and deep listening. They also feel into the difference between right and left side of the body. They explore whole range of bodily sensations like tightness and discomfort. They are encouraged to stop and pause if they feel any pain and to be gentle and kind to themselves by coming out of a pose. They learn to respect limitations of their unique bodies.
6. Develop coordination
Children learn to coordinate breath with movement and at first this may be a little challenging (challenging enough for adults too if you’re new to yoga) but with practice it becomes easier and become the second nature. They also learn to coordinate arm movements with leg movements and all of these contribute to better coordination skills.
7. Strengthen muscles
We practice wide range of poses in our yoga class, and standing poses and back bending poses in particular help them strengthen targeted muscles in their bodies. Yoga makes them stronger!
8. Regain flexibility
School aged children develop tightness through many hours of sitting.
Forward bending poses and hip opening poses help them loosen tight hamstrings and open up tight hips.
9. Explore mind-body connection
Yoga teaches children to turn away from their headspace, let go of thoughts and be more present in their bodies. They learn to pay attention to their breaths and their bodily sensations moment by moment. During the practice of yoga, they discover when their body is relaxed, their mind can relax too. When they experience a physical challenge or discomfort that gets reflected in the state of their minds as well. This helps them feel the sense of oneness and connectedness in themselves.
10. Ability to deal with difficult feelings & emotions
Just like thoughts, children will learn that they are not their feelings. They learn that feelings come and go like a visitor and they can be a kind host opening door to each guest and letting them go at the end of their stay.
There you have it! I hope this has motivated you to get you kids try out yoga if you haven’t already. Yoga helps children find inner peace and calm that’s already within themselves. Kids yoga is fun, full of singing and playing games so kids just get to be kids and enjoy themselves.
I will be running an online family yoga class this Friday, 16th April. It’s most suitable for 5-8 year olds but if you have slightly younger or older kids, they are welcome too. Online bookings are essential and you can book your mat here;
Chika is the founder of Wa Yoga (Wa is a Japanese word meaning harmony). She is a Yoga Australia registered teacher, student of yoga for 13 years, teaching yoga & mindfulness for the last 7 years and mum to an almost 5-year old daughter. She specialises in offering online courses and memberships for mothers of young children and young families. She has a gentle approach to teaching yoga and her classes are always infused with mindfulness, reminding people to slow down and come back to the present moment.