Teaching yoga to children is a fun, joyful, and very rewarding experience. Everyone can teach yoga to children on some level, and I strongly encourage parents, caregivers, and school teachers to incorporate yoga lessons into their everyday experiences with children. Children are natural yogis, and you will most likely find that they pick up on the concepts very quickly and easily, especially since so much of what yoga is about is simply innate and natural to children. It’s actually much more natural to children than it is to adults!
5 Ways Kids are Natural Yogis
1. Love of Animals and Nature. As anyone who has worked with kids has probably noticed, kids have a natural respect for and interest in nature and animals. They are inherently curious about their environment and the different creatures that they encounter. They have a natural ability to really feel what it may be like to be a lion, a dog, or a tree, and they tend to get fully engrossed in making these postures their own.
2. Fearlessness. Unlike adults, kids approach life with an enviable freedom and fearlessness. They are happy to experiment with new things, new challenges, and new adventures, and manage to have a lot of fun doing it!
3. Work Ethic. When it comes to a kid’s job (play), they have a very strong work ethic. Yoga is a great way to play and explore. Children love to imagine that they are warriors, bears, ice skaters…and pretend that they are walking through a jungle, sledding down a hill, or playing on a farm!
4. Born Yogis. Did you know that children are born yogis? Babies and small children naturally exhibit many asanas at different stages of development. At some point we’ve probably all seen a baby doing Happy Baby Pose, a toddler in Triangle or Downward Dog, or a young child in Childs Pose. Babies also naturally breathe in a yogic way. As they inhale their belly rises, expanding, and as they exhale the belly draws in. Many adults no longer breathe this way naturally, and have to be re-taught how to breathe.
5. They Are Present. Children are naturally present, and they want you to be too! They enjoy each moment, no matter how simple, and in this way they have a full appreciation and gratitude for life. Whether it’s noticing a stick that looks a little different, tasting a particular flavor or texture in food, or observing expressions of adults, children show us how to be in the here and now, and how to be okay with it.
As children are natural yogis, teaching yoga to them is easy, fun, and beneficial to both kids and adults! Many parents bring their children to my yoga classes because they love the poses or they want their children to learn calming strategies. However, yoga for children actually incorporates and teaches much much more! After even 1-2 classes parents often notice subtle changes in the way children handle situations or explore their environment. As a previous school psychologist I encouraged teachers and parents to utilize many tools from yoga when helping a child who was feeling anxious, overwhelmed, out of control, dysregulated, or angry. Here are 5 of the many benefits of yoga for children, in case anyone needs convincing:
1. Physical Benefits. Yoga can increase:
– body awareness
– body control
2. Mental and Emotional Benefits. Yoga helps to build:
– positive self-image
– social skills
– social awareness
3. Educational. Yoga teaches about nature and animals, but also about life events, body parts, and other basic academic concepts (i.e. Numbers, letters, seasons).
4. Encouraging Positive Social Awareness and Interactions. Yoga teaches kindness and respect towards yourself and other living things through both movement and conversation.
5. Calming and Regulating. Yoga teaches breathing techniques and poses that encourage calm and relaxation. I have had many parents tell me that their child practicing some of the breathing exercises that they learned in yoga when they need to calm their body. Others say their child set up a “calm space” in their home to breathe, do yoga, or even read a book. Yoga helps children connect with their bodies which in turn helps them self-regulate.
The benefits of yoga for children are endless! I encourage anyone reading this to try it with your children today, and to get you started, here is a Kids Yoga Winter Theme to get you started. Let me know how it goes, and how you like to incorporate yoga in your child’s everyday life! Contact us at Water and Rock Studio if interested in kids classes or private sessions!