Our last summer camp is finishing today, in Roscommon. Despite the restrictions, we have had some really great camps over the last couple of months. For some children, it was the first opportunity to see some friends & make some new ones, since lock down began in March. We covered a lot of important topics and also gave the children some space to discuss their worries around going back to school. We reassured them that whatever happens, we can get through it together.
One interesting comment came up quite a lot – from the children themselves and also from parents in their camp feedback – and that was that the kids really loved doing yoga every day. As a children’s yoga teacher, that is music to my ears. I have been teaching yoga and mindfulness as an after school activity in Wicklow for many years now, building strong bodies & minds in children fro 6 to 12. Breath work is a important feature of yoga & one of the most effective ways of helping ourselves when anxiety shows up. Introducing breathing techniques to children means that they have access to a skill that will help them throughout the rest of their lives.
Practicing yoga is important for children for many of the same reasons it is important for adults. Yoga helps children to relax, relieve stress and anxiety, sleep better, improve emotional regulation, increase empathy, and improve mood and well-being. There are some other benefits too, though they might not be immediately obvious:
Yoga Improves Memory & Cognitive Functioning:
When children practice yoga, they are essentially practicing their ability to focus on the task at hand. In their day-to-day lives, this translates to better concentration and cognitive functioning at school.
Yoga Improves Social Functioning:
Yoga for children typically includes songs, games, and other fun activities that get kids moving together and learning from one another, particularly with partner yoga poses. This creates a positive, engaging environment in which kids can have fun, talk to one another, and learn to trust one another.
Yoga also promotes increased self-esteem, self-confidence and empathy within children – which translates to more positive relationships with others by reflecting their positive attitude toward themselves onto others.
Yoga Improves Sleep:
Practicing yoga helps children to relieve stress by using their breathing to calm the mind and the nervous system. The physical practice of yoga also helps to relieve tension and release negative emotions held physically in the body, helping them to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Yoga Improves Strength & Breath Control:
Yoga takes some strength – both mentally and physically. When practiced regularly, we notice many physical and cognitive changes within ourselves, particularly increased flexibility, improved body strength, and mental clarity. All of this newfound strength has much to do with the breath.
Learning effective breathing techniques and building physical & mental strength from a young age helps to reduce the chances of obesity as well as increases self-esteem, self-confidence, and improves overall well-being.
Yoga Increases Determination and Perseverance:
Yoga is a fun activity for children, in a non-competitive environment, in which they can learn new yoga poses and breathing techniques. When something is fun for children, they always want to know more and really love conquering the more difficult poses.
Yoga Improves Emotional Regulation:
Emotional regulation is the ability to recognise and adjust your behaviour, thoughts, and emotions based on the situation at hand. Yoga offers many tools for developing life skills such as awareness and control in children.
Yoga Improves Independence and Coping Skills:
It is important that children learn how to be independent and cope on their own while they have support and guidance from those around them. Through the practice of yoga, they will develop coping skills, like calmness of mind and clarity of thinking to help them navigate the world independently as they grow into young adults.
Yoga Improves Mood:
Like any physical exercise, practicing yoga helps children to release their negative thoughts and feelings, bring about mental clarity, and feel better about themselves. When we do something physical, such as yoga, we release endorphins, creating feelings of calm and happiness.
Yoga Reduces Stress & Anxiety:
Improving mood also means reducing stress and anxiety levels. Those same endorphins that improve mood will also reduce stress and anxiety in children and allow them to feel calm and in control, not overwhelmed by their emotions.
All these benefits make it clear that yoga can play an important role in our children’s physical and mental well-being, now and into their futures. It can be lovely to practice yoga with your child. Spending some one-to-one time together, laughing and learning, can be a very positive experience for both parent & child.
I would love to hear any stories about your downward facing dog experiences with your little ones!