Yoga for kids is exploding worldwide these days. More and more, people are talking about the benefits of yoga for children (and parents too) which is wonderful considering the amount of stress our society is facing these days.
For adults, it can be hard to understand how to share yoga with your kids. If you’ve never specifically been shown how yoga can be taught to kids, your only experience with yoga is likely the classes you’ve taken as an adult. As a yoga teacher, I can tell you that yoga for kids and families is often very different than yoga for adults.
For one, yoga for kids is usually lots of fun. That’s not to say that an adult yoga class can’t be fun too but generally adult yoga classes are much more serious. When I teach yoga I hardly tell the children what the pose is actually called unless I’m working with older children who want to know the names. Rather, we use our imagination and express the poses through themes that mean something to them, using shapes, animals or even letters as the basis for poses. The classes are usually full of games, music, running around, being silly and experimenting with lots of movement.
Yoga, like many children’s activities, can be an expensive investment. Classes are often pricey and you’re not necessarily going to find the perfect teacher for your child at your first class. Just like for us adults, it can take a while to find the right class for your child’s personality. If you’re interested in introducing your child to yoga but not quite sure if you’re ready to sign them up for a class, here are some tips for easing you into the “yoga for kids” world:
Take it Workshop at a Time
Many yoga studios offer weekend workshops where parents and kids can practice together. This can be a great way to see if your child is inspired by yoga as well as check out a teacher’s particular style. Many studios also offer free trials for kids classes – ask if you’re able to sit in on the first 10 minutes of the lesson as well. I always invite parents to stay for the first lesson but encourage them to consider leaving if their child is doing well in the class. If your child stays with a teacher after only a few minutes of an activity, that’s a pretty good sign that they like the class.
While a video can never replace an in-studio class (contact with a teacher is extremely beneficial for any yoga student), it can be a less expensive way to practice with your kids. It can also be a great rainy or snowy day activity and kids like doing the same routines over and over again as they can memorize it and build confidence in the movements.
Prepare your own class based on your child’s personality
This one might seem more challenging, especially if you haven’t practiced much yourself but it can be done, even by the most novice yoga student. If your child is 3 years or older, you probably have a good idea of his/her favourite activity (my daughter for example LOVES to pretend to the baby version of anything if I’m the mommy version). I’ll often pretend to be a mommy bird and get her to do pigeon pose, flamingo or crow pose as my baby. I keep switching animals and she keeps following me as the baby. Yoga is so flexible that you can adapt it to almost any activity that your child loves (pun intended!).
If you feel like you don’t know the positions, you can pick up a deck of children’s yoga positions (sold at most yoga stores) or just check out Yoga Journal online for their directory of poses. Pull out two or three poses and explore them together.
The most important part of sharing yoga with your little one is that yoga is about self-improvement, not about competing with others or about “getting it right”. The benefits of yoga for kids comes from allowing them to find themselves in a situation where, for once, they do not have to “do something properly”. They can be free to listen to their own bodies and hearts and be led by that alone. It can be quite hard for us as parents to slip out of the mentality of encouraging our children to do everything perfectly but that in and of itself is the perfect way to practice yoga!
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