In our fast-paced world, it is important that our children learn to stop, soothe and calm the senses, allowing them to focus and balance. Yoga unifies the body, mind and breath, and through its disciplined practice, children become more in tune with themselves, their loved ones and their environment.
Children's yoga classes are playful and interactive. Yoga poses and breathing techniques are taught through age-appropriate, exciting and educational adventures, stories, music and games. Children are encouraged to be creative and use their imaginations, while having fun in a safe, non-competitive environment.
The word “mindfulness” has become very popular in recent times, but how many people actually know what mindfulness is and how to practice it?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness expert and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, describes mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”.
Mindfulness is being aware in the present moment; simply noticing what is happening right now.
When we practice mindfulness, we take notice of our bodies – what do we see, what do we hear, smell, or even taste. How do we feel? We also notice what our mind is doing and the thoughts we have.
We notice these things and have this experience without judgement; without contemplating whether this experience is good or bad. We simply recognize the experience and how it affects us.
A mindfulness practice helps us develop self-awareness, focus, impulse control and emotional balance.
The benefits of practicing mindfulness are considerable, and for children the power of mindfulness is even greater because their bodies and brains are still developing. Some of the ways that teaching mindful practices to children can help improve behaviour and emotional wellbeing, include:
Children are naturally flexible. Yoga allows them to build strength and prolong this flexibility, while enhancing fine and gross motor skills and improving muscle tone.
Yoga encompasses various different poses and movements includind balancing, strengthening, bending, twisting and inverting. These different poses allow children to learn about their bodies and where their own boundaries are, and thus to listen to their bodies.
There is no better feeling than when you finally get into that yoga pose you've been practicing for so long - whether you are a child or an adult. This does wonders for anyone's confidence! Yoga allows children to practice persistence to reach their goals, while overcoming obstacles and weaknesses along the way.
Yoga teaches children the values of kindness, trust, teamwork and self-control, while allowing them to be gentle and patient with themselves and others. It reiterates that we are all the same on the inside, despite our outward appearance, race, religion, etc. Partner yoga poses and games allow children to fully understand this concept of oneness by working together.
Children's yoga is fun, playful and imaginative, following themes, stories and made-up adventures. Children are encouraged to use their imaginations and be creative in creating their own poses and stories, without judgement and in a non-competitive space.
In a children's yoga class, some poses and movements are fast moving while others are slow paced. This allows children to learn self-control, enhancing their focus and awareness. Different breathing techniques are used to energise or encourage relaxation, teaching children to focus on and connect with their breath and the changes it creates in their bodies.
Mindfulness is being present and aware in the current moment. When children are engaged, focused, having fun, and following a yoga lesson, they are in the present moment. Further exercises and techniques are taught to allow children to be mindfull outside of the yoga class.
Practicing yoga allows children to express their feelings and worries in a safe and nurturing space. It is a physical exercise that produces happy endorphins, therefore assisting with depression and anxiety. Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques teach children to balance their breath and calm themselves. Yoga teaches non-judgment and non-competition toward themselves and others.