Yoga for kids?? Isn’t kid’s Yoga just a watered-down version of adult Yoga? I’m sure my littles wouldn’t go for that! At least not on a continual basis-they might try it once. They’ve got to wiggle-they’ve got to move! What makes a good yoga class for your children? What keeps them wanting to come back?
These are all common (and fair!) questions about kids’ Yoga. And I had the same doubts and cynicism when I first started exploring Yoga with my kids. I have attended several different Yoga classes with my children and appreciated what each program offered. Some have simply been an exposure to Yoga. Some brought fun stories. And some combined other unique elements, like art and music, which inspired both my kids and me to explore Yoga more. My knowledge and experience grew with each class. I actually became a certified children’s Yoga teacher because of the awesome interactions my children and I had with Yoga. Something about the classes sparked a desire to bring more of this thing called Yoga into my children’s lives. It’s been a beautiful unfolding journey. Just as we adults come to a class with our own experiences and individuality, so do our kids. I’ve learned through taking different classes that my kids don’t have to do mamma’s Yoga-that can be saved for me. Their Yoga can look quite different from mine, and yet still be full of the great lessons and benefits Yoga provides.
As an educator, one thing I LOVE watching is modeled behavior. I now look for classes that not only model the asanas (the poses) but also healthy life habits within the class. But I don’t want these habits to be thrust upon my kids. I prefer the knowledge to be woven in through songs, games, and crafts. Many people don’t associate any of that with a kid’s Yoga class, but the best programs do it with ease! Through Yoga, my kids have gained: ways of handling stress, cardiovascular health, increased flexibility and spinal movement, skills of meditation and breathing, social skills in a group of people, improved fine motor skills and concentration. An effective Yoga teacher models these benefits through the lens of fun and mindfulness. The atmosphere and structure of a Yoga class can provide hooks for kids to layer their skills on as they continue to grow and mature. I love being a part of something full of benefits for our children and have become more intentional in what I model as I grow in my own knowledge and experience. I encourage you to sit in on some of your kid’s classes. You can see what is being modeled and may even find ways to help them integrate what they’re learning into their daily lives.
As a parent, I also LOVE the togetherness Yoga brings our family. Everyone comes to Yoga at a different place in their lives. We have multiple ages in our family. Practically, this means I have a three year old coming in and out of our Yoga party, a seven year old who thinks she’s in a competition, and a happy-go-lucky six year old who doesn’t care if she’s in a competition. I also have a teenager who sits on the outskirts and watches. The teenager makes silly faces, interacts sometimes, and also looks at her younger siblings thinking they’re cute. Notice this-she’s interacting and it’s awesome! Oh, and don’t forget me, the mom leading the Yoga session and watching the personalities as they unfold and interact. Each time, our Yoga practice has its own flavor, full of whatever the kids (and mom!) are feeling that day. But I know that I am providing gifts and tools for them (and me!) just by being in these moments-being present. By sharing our Yoga time, we are learning to work together through differences, learning how to be still, quiet and mindful, providing a safe environment to feel uncomfortable in while participating in something new and working through that feeling, allowing innovation and creativity when we make up their own poses, celebrating as we conquer new poses, and providing a positive exposure to health and wellness. Here we all are, under the same roof, doing the same activity, and coming at it with our own experiences and individuality. And yet, we are…TOGETHER!
Imagine a room full of children. Now imagine that all those cute little faces have the opportunity to be exposed to the many benefits of children’s Yoga. They have the chance to layer tools for their well-being and growth. They can have a place to just be silly while also, in the same place, find some quiet. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? This is what I get to be a part of in my own children’s lives, and in the lives of other children that I interact with, through children’s Yoga. And that’s just the beginning. You see, the gift just keeps on giving because then those kids interact with other children and the world around them in ways we adults wish we had the tools for when we were their age. Is anyone else singing John Lennon at this point? Ha! What a gift to be a part of our children’s lives! What a gift to find a kid’s yoga class! Mamma’s yoga? Not anymore! You can look for classes that inspire peace and joy while being fun and silly. Find your child’s Yoga fit and watch the benefits unfold.