Although yoga has been around for thousands of years, it has been steadily gaining millions of fans in the United States and is now considered a hugely popular wellness activity. As more and more people take to their mat, it becomes increasingly clear that the benefits of yoga can span generations. Yoga for kids is a healthy trend that parents can embrace.
Yoga for kids?
What was once considered an activity strictly for adults is now gaining popularity with kids. Whether you are an experienced yogi or simply curious about the phenomenon, consider including your little ones the next time you take to your favorite asana.
Introducing your kids to yoga can be a relatively simple process that will yield long-term benefits. “Yoga is a wonderful way to move our bodies in fun and creative ways,” says Kristin McGee, a yoga and fitness expert and a Personal Performance Ambassador for FILA. “Starting at a young age helps instill a sense of confidence and gives our kids tools to unite their mind and body through breath, concentration and movement.” Most kids will eagerly embrace the practice, which encourages them to move in ways they may not have considered before.
Where to start
It’s easy to be intimidated by yoga if you look at it from a purely physical perspective. But when you look at yoga as a physical and mental exercise, introducing the practice to a child seems completely doable. “Start with simple breathing exercises and yoga poses,” says McGee. “We show them how to do standing postures and balances and stretches and how their breath and concentration helps them achieve more strength, length and stillness.” Some simple postures to start with include downward dog, mountain pose and tree pose.
You don’t need to be an expert to introduce your kids to yoga. In fact, you take your first step on the journey together. “There are so many great books and DVDs out there for kids to do and you can learn and grow with them,” says McGee. Whether you find guidance from a book, DVD, online source or a friend, making a commitment to introducing basic poses to your kids is a step in the right direction. “In this modern day where information is constantly bombarding us, yoga is the most wonderful way to unplug and unwind and come back to the simple things in life,” says McGee.
McGee suggests the following tips to cultivate mini-yogis:
- When they come home from school, allow them to sit still and relax for a few minutes before doing homework.
- Before bed, let them do some calming stretches and focus on a soft, gentle breath.
- In the morning, do some sun salutations and standing poses to wake up their bodies and set a good tone for the school day.
- On the weekends, practice together as a family.