Before registering your child for a yoga class, you are probably looking for more information about yoga. Why yoga can change your child's life? What benefits does this practice bring? In this article, I give you all the information you need to understand the benefits of yoga for children as well as many tips to try it at home.
Why do yoga for children
Yoga will be a complete physical activity for your child. This activity is not only concerned with the well-being of the body but also brings benefits to the mind. However, there will be no idea of competition or performance like a sport. These sessions will therefore allow your child to let off steam but more importantly to relax. It will also allow him to eliminate his stress and to learn to know his body better. At any age, yoga can be beneficial. But it seems that it is even more so in this day and age. Indeed, our current lifestyle makes yoga for children almost mandatory.
We often live our lives at a hundred miles an hour, with this feeling of constantly running after time. We always have appointments waiting, things to do in an emergency. So this pressure of time affects our children. Every day we tell them to hurry. We rush them to get up or to have breakfast. And we almost run to go to school. However, your child is just as sensitive to this constant stress as you are. He certainly feels that life is a constant race against time.
Yoga for children, an obligation to live better?
In addition, once at school or daycare, your child is subjected to a particularly noisy environment. You only have to pass by a schoolyard to see this. Shouting, crying, running around.... Does it make you tired? So does he. Our children lose a lot of energy from it on a daily basis. This can contribute to physical and psychological fatigue.
On the other hand, during their days, children are generally subject to strong emotions. And at their age, they find it difficult to understand and control them. They experience failures, anger, disappointment... And all this sometimes takes on more importance than for us adults. This, without counting on the violence that is also omnipresent in their lives. Around them, at school, shouting and fights are frequent. And even though we want to protect them from it, they witness the violence of our world as well. They catch it on the radio or television, they see it in the street.... Soon our children are confronted with the harshness of our society and often find themselves powerless against it.
Finally, the children of the 21st century also have an additional source of stress. They are often hyper-connected. Video games, smartphones, televisions, computers, the screens under their noses constantly confront them with excessive stimulation. This generally increases their state of excitement and disrupts their sleep. These screens also tend to amplify their reactions (tantrums...).
Yoga for children is therefore a wonderful way to relieve all this stress, difficult emotions and inner noise. Younger children will also find a way to express themselves when they have difficulty putting words to what they are feeling. Finally, yoga for children helps them connect with their bodies, intuition and feelings. Through this activity, they can learn to know and listen to themselves.
What is the best age to start yoga for children?
As you will often be told, there is no age to begin yoga. Thus, yoga for children is open to all, from birth to adolescence. Here are a few details to help you:
- Birth to 3 years: Parent/child yoga or post-natal yoga classes may be offered. It is mainly the parent who will practice during the session. But this activity for two will allow you to develop a beautiful complicity with your child. In addition, your child will be able to enjoy a calm environment during the practice and a more serene parent on the way out.
- From 3 to 4 years old: Yoga at 3 or 4 years old will often be done in a small group or at home under your supervision. The goal at this age will be to have fun, to awaken your balance and your senses. To facilitate your child's concentration, it will be important to offer short sessions (10 minutes) where play is emphasized. Indeed, young children generally have little ability to concentrate. Moreover, at this age, the child may not yet be able to recognize his right and left. Thus, the intention will not be to follow a sequence of postures. For example, mimes and short breaths can be suggested.
- From 4 to 8 years old: At this age, the child is able to reproduce certain postures. But he will still need the playful aspect, which will help him to stay concentrated. For example, we can, for example, highlight the postures to be done in pairs. This will increase his level of attention and pleasure. We will also propose postures to be done alone, with funny names. But above all, we will bring a good dose of laughter to the sessions.
Starting yoga for older children is also possible!
- From 8 to 13 years old: From this age on, the child generally has stronger tastes. The challenge will be to make them appreciate the practice of yoga. Here again, it will be important to avoid military sequences and to keep a fun aspect. It will be preferable to do short sessions (30 to 45 minutes).
- Teenagers : After the age of 13, children can be integrated into adult classes. Adolescence is a wonderful time to learn yoga. Indeed, it is the period of self-construction, where we often find ourselves pushed around. The teacher can then focus his or her sessions on themes that will resonate with the teenagers, such as body acceptance or self-confidence. That said, in general, teens prefer the dynamic aspect of yoga rather than the theoretical aspect related to the philosophy of yoga. Nevertheless, these benefits will come to them naturally in all cases.
What are the benefits of yoga for children?
To reap all the benefits, it is important to keep in mind that children's yoga is above all a fun activity. It must be done with joy and pleasure and not experienced as a constraint for the child. From this point on, the benefits of yoga for children are numerous, both on their body and their mind. Here is a non-exhaustive list:
• Learning and body awareness
• Decrease in anxiety and stress
• Improves attention
• Better sleep
• Increases willpower and adaptability
• Develops flexibility
• Allows you to know your emotions better
• Improves confidence and self-esteem
• Promotes self-expression
Practicing Children's Yoga at Home
Many yoga sessions for children exist in yoga schools. I invite you to visit our "Where to do yoga" section which presents all the best studios in France. Your city may appear there.
However, before registering your little one in a children's yoga class, you can start with an initiation at home. If you are already a practitioner, your child will probably want to join you on your yoga mat naturally. In both cases, it's time to create a yoga session just for him.
Practicing as a family is a great way to make yoga fun and to share a physical and enjoyable activity, away from the screens.
Number of sessions, holding, advice...
If you decide to start a small yoga routine at home, keep in mind that it is better to have a few short sessions several times a month, rather than a big session once a year. Fifteen minutes each week can be a good start. The benefits to your child will be much greater.
To help your child develop an interest in yoga, it may be helpful to make each session a precious time to share with each other. For example, offer your child a yoga mat with different patterns and colors, or let him or her choose his or her own according to his or her wishes and age. You can then invite him to put it among his things or write his first name on it to help him make it his own.
Also think of a loose and comfortable outfit that does not interfere with the execution of the exercises. If necessary, also opt for a small blanket, which is pleasant during the final relaxation. Finally, yoga is best practiced barefoot. But socks will be a good option in winter.
Seeing children's yoga as a family ritual
Also, to help your child feel involved in children's yoga sessions, it may be a good idea to set up a beginning and ending ritual together. Children usually love this.
For example at the beginning of the session :
- Ringing a Tibetan bell or bowl.
- Put on relaxing music.
- Light a candle, an essential oil diffuser or incense.
- Close the doors and/or window in a suitable room of the house and make it a "sacred" place.
- Unroll your carpet in your own way
At the end of the session :
- Roll your carpet in a solemn way or clean it with a cloth.
- Give a hug at the end of relaxation.
- Extinguish the candle, diffuser or incense.
- Ringing a bell.
Yoga for children: how to start the session?
Information: These ideas are to be adapted to your intuition of the moment and to the age of your child. Do not try to follow them to the letter. Be open to your child's reactions. Accept that your child may lose your attention on a regular basis, may try unexpected things, or may not try certain things. Keep in mind that you are doing your best and so is he. There is no idea of performance or expectations to have with yoga.
• At the beginning of the session, take a little time together to refocus.
• For example, make your child aware of his or her feet on the floor.
• You can also have your child practice a self-massage with the most beautiful faces. Cheeks, forehead, jaws, neck, shoulders...
• Help him release all the tensions of the day by dancing for a while. Then, release the arms on each side in a swinging motion while standing. The shoulders, head and facial features also relax.
• You can also play "the rain falling". Standing on your mat, at inspiration, raise your arms to the sky, stretching your whole body, face, fists and tightening every muscle. When exhaling, we relax everything, arms go down to the ground and fingers move to create a movement of droplets. We find our hands on the ground, knees bent, back bent. The arms can swing. The upper body is completely relaxed towards the front.
End of children's yoga session and relaxation
Afterwards you can move on to some breathing exercises, where you will simply help her become aware of the path of the air within her body. Finally, don't neglect a moment of relaxation at the end of the session. This is an essential part of a yoga session, as it allows you to integrate all the benefits of the practice.
For this relaxation, you can set up a small ritual as well. This has a playful and reassuring side for the younger ones. For example, he can turn off the light, put on soft music, slip under a soft blanket or roll up in his mat. You can also invest in small yoga eye cushions. Their weight helps to relax more deeply.
Yoga for children: transmitting useful values for the rest of their lives
Children's yoga sessions are often rare moments. Moments when your child will be fully present for what is happening. Thus, it will quickly become for both of you, a privileged moment, where you will benefit from his full attention, because he will not be stimulated by the outside world. Thus, these child yoga sessions will become magical moments in order to transmit certain values to your child. Indeed, Deepak Chopra, a renowned doctor and spiritual author, transmits in one of his books, 7 powerful sentences that can have a profound impact on a child. They are as follows:
- Anything is possible.
- If you want to get something, give something.
- When you make a choice, you change the future.
- Don't say no, follow the path.
- Each time you have a wish or a desire, you plant a seed.
- Enjoy the trip.
- You are here for a reason.
Some may talk to you more than others. But in my opinion, they are beautiful things to pass on to our children, to help them gain confidence in themselves and in life. It's up to you to add them naturally to your children's yoga sessions, as well as any ideas that come to mind.
Now you're ready to start children's yoga at home or register your child for his or her first yoga class.