With half-term just around the corner it doesn’t mean you have to postpone your yoga session. Read on for tips to get your children involved, at any age.
Often we see yoga as a solo event. The quiet, meditative stillness it brings. The language used, which often encourages us to look within. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this – yoga teaches us to become more in tune with our bodies and our minds. But with half-term on the horizon it’s a good time to think about widening our yoga net and helping our smallest family members to reap the benefits.
What is yoga for kids?
If you have very young children, the chances are they are doing yoga pretty much all the time. They use their bodies naturally, without prejudice or embarrassment. Their big imaginations make everything possible, so when it comes to standing tall like a tree, lying long and thin like a snake or roaring like a lion, this is all going to come really naturally to a child.
Yoga gives children a way to cultivate their natural tendencies to imagination and play. Letting them grow. Generating greater knowledge of their bodies, and a little more resilience in the mind, without restrictions. And while yoga is the same for everyone, no matter what age, the way that we introduce children to it will be very different to how adults are taught – concentrating on playful, natural movement and letting children feel what it’s like to be in their bodies, without focusing on strict alignment of specific yoga poses.
What about yoga for older children?
Studies have shown that school environments which include some type of yoga or mindfulness activity have nurtured children with:
greater concentration and focus
higher emotional awareness
And a whole range of other benefits. But this is mainly being done at primary school level. As children get older, the focus shifts to academia. Tests. Education. Hard work.
It’s suggested that when kids hit school age (even primary school children), their hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that controls the imagination, shrinks. They become less kiddish, less in tune with their bodies and more embarrassed or shameful about the natural changes that happen when they grow up. Add social media and the excruciating pain of being a teenager into the mix, and this disconnect grows into a gulf.
Yoga can help children of any age, but particularly pre-teens and teenagers, become more accepting of their bodies, increase resilience and reduce stress and anxiety.
So how to get children interested in yoga?
First of all, children are more than welcome to join their parents on a Frog Project online class. Kids from around 11 or 12 have enjoyed our classes. You can keep your video off if you prefer. Why not invite them to a class over half-term and see how they feel?
For younger children, fun and playful yoga poses linked to nature and animals can help kids harness their imagination. Why not make these into games, if you have more than one child? For example, a child’s pose with a friend or sibling lying over your back is not only fun but feels really good! Or, they can use their big imaginations to create their own poses and lead each other.
Backbends, typically yoga poses that adults may find challenging, will come naturally to children and really enhance self-esteem and confidence. Here’s a list of some of our favourite poses to get kids active and playing within a loose structure of yoga:
Tree pose (try this in pairs, holding each other up)
Bridge or wheel pose
Roaring lion’s pose (the roar helps stimulate their hypothalamus and imagination!)
Child’s pose (try getting a sibling or friend to lie over the other's back, like a lizard on a rock!)
There’s absolutely no need to make children flow from one posture to another like you would in an adult class. Fun is the name of the game here, and what’s fun for them will also be fun for you. It’s time to release your inner child!
Ready to create a little bit of space for you and your kids? Why not try our Live Online Yoga classes, bringing you accessible yoga for all, from our living room to yours? Sign up now for 15 days of free unlimited classes.
Carmel is a travel professional and lover of literature and Latin America. In her day job at a tour operator she whisks people away to far off destinations, while in her spare time she moonlights as a freelance copywriter. You can find her portfolio here https://carmelhendry.journoportfolio.com. While not writing, or dreaming about travel, she can be found playing the piano, cycling or practising yoga. She’s spent the last year learning how to do a headstand, but mostly can be found relaxing in child’s pose! Join her and the Frog Project Community with 15 days of free unlimited classes. It’s just yoga.