How Can Yoga and Mindfulness Benefit My Child?
Yoga and meditation are more than just silly postures and sleeping on a yoga mat. Practice in yoga aims to foster self-regulation, play, and motor planning skills in addition to building physical and mental strength and flexibility. Through yoga, learning, social play, and exercise can be encouraged and reinforced !I’ve been teaching yoga to children since 2010, and have seen the myriad of benefits it can have firsthand.
In yoga groups for preschoolers, elements of imaginative play, social interaction, physical fitness, mindfulness training, and academics are all combined to provide children with a wide range of positive and edifying experiences. We specifically utilize adventure based yoga classes where children pretend to be animals, objects, or superheroes and use positive self-talk throughout class. Further, throughout adventure-based yoga classes, children are learning about the environment they are pretending to be in. Whether it’s an ocean, space, or food themed yoga class, children are not only using their imagination to engage with the topic, but they are also being exposed to new ideas and concepts in a naturalistic and fun setting.
Mindfulness in the form of deep breathing and concentration is also an integral part of our classes. From blowing pinwheels to following guided visualization, these simple routines can help build focus and attention, while also teaching children new coping strategies.Finally, students are encouraged to engage with their peers in yoga class through partner postures and games where they can be both leaders and followers and where we learn about working together and accepting one another. Games range from freeze dance, which encourages and teaches children self-regulation and impulse control, to frog leap which focuses more on motor planning. Part of the effectiveness of yoga is that the techniques learned can be generalized to the home and next classroom setting.
Many children that I’ve taught have gone home to teach their parents about meditation and yoga and have been able to use the meditations and breathing techniques that they’ve learned in challenging moments. There are many benefits of teaching yoga to young children. The more we teach our children that learning, fitness, and relaxation are fun, the more that children will internalize these truths and carry them into their own futures.