When people talk about yoga, what usually comes to our mind is the image of a young woman doing some strange poses on a mat. We hardly think of men and kids when it comes to yoga. However, as stated in a publication on SeattleYogaNews, yoga is a gift to humanity, and the magical age to start is 8.
Therefore, as soon as your kids reach this age, they can start doing the exercise. If you are a parent that currently does yoga, then you are most likely already experiencing its benefits. Some of these benefits are also the same for kids, but in this post, you will read about all the benefits of yoga for kids.
If you are hearing yoga for the first time or have heard about it but don’t know what it involves, then this is an opportunity to learn about the exercise. We will start with a brief description of what yoga is. You can skip to the section on its benefits for kids if you are already familiar with the exercise.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a form of physical exercise that combines physical postures, breathing techniques, relaxation and meditation. Although there is no written record of the inventor of yoga, it has been in practice for more than 5000 years, and it is believed that the exercise originates from Southern Asia.
The earliest written record of yoga is a 2000-year old treatise called Yoga Sutra. It is a guidebook on how to master the mind, control emotions, and grow spiritually. The book was written by the Indian sage Patanjali, and it provides the framework of all modern yoga.
Originally, yoga is about expanding spiritual energy using breathing methods and mental activities; it was not about fitness. However, the focus shifted from spirituality to fitness in the 1920s.
Surprising Benefits of Yoga for Kids
#1. It teaches perseverance
Yoga involves some poses, such as Crow Pose, which may seem difficult to master, but because the practice is fun, kids are usually determined to keep trying until they can do them. When they eventually get these poses, kids are happy and want to show what they have learnt to their friends.
This determination to know how to do yoga poses doesn’t stop in yoga; it translates to other parts of their lives. They get to understand that no matter how difficult doing something maybe, they would eventually get it right – if they persevere in training.
#2. It improves the memory
While doing balancing poses in yoga, you are required to concentrate on both your body and mind. You have to pay attention to the movement of your body and how your breathing coordinates the movement of your body.
This concentration of attention helps to create a focus within, thereby helping to improve memory and cognitive function. The benefit of yoga for kids concerning this is that they learn how to avoid distraction and are able to stay focused on any task given to them. Ultimately, a child that can stay focused for long periods can better focus on his or her academics and this will have a positive impact on his or her grades.
#3. It improves social relationship
Although yoga is regarded as an individual activity, if you join a yoga class, you would be integrated into a community of people whom you can share your experience with. Yoga classes for kids have been made to be very social; aside from the regular yoga poses, other fun activities such as yoga partner poses, singing and gaming are also involved.
Through these fun activities, kids learn from one another and develop confidence and high self-esteem; they also make new friends.
#4. It aids sleep
After having a hectic day at work, we are normally stressed, and many of us find it difficult to sleep. However, doing yoga as a pre-bedtime movement has been proven to help unwind and have a restful night.
This is because by doing different yoga exercises before bed, the body becomes calm and relieved of stress. Tension and negative emotions are also released, and all these make us fall asleep faster and sleep longer. This is not only applicable to adults; it is also one of the benefits of yoga for kids.
#5. It improves strength and breath control
Our body and mind suffer when we breathe quickly. We increase our muscle tension, and this reduces our focus; moreover, it pumps our adrenaline, and we enter the fight-or-flight mode.
Yoga teaches proper breathing techniques, and when it’s done regularly, there are some physical and cognitive changes in the body. There will be increased flexibility and strength in the body, as well as mental clarity.
Kids who do yoga also experience these effects, as they become physically and mentally strong from their young age. Such kids have a lower chance of getting obese and depressed; their overall wellbeing is improved.
#6. It teaches self-regulation
If there is one benefit of yoga for kids that should get you curious, it is the fact that yoga teaches kids how to manage their emotions. The reason you should be curious is that people that are unable to manage their emotions find it difficult to navigate through the challenges of life, and you don’t want that to happen to your children.
By doing yoga, kids learn how to pay attention to their mind and body, which helps them to better understand their thoughts and feelings. If such kids have a problem in school, instead of getting frustrated about the situation, they handle their emotions better and think of creative ways of solving the problem.
#7. It teaches independence
When they are still young, kids have the support of their family for everything they want. All decisions about their life are made by the adults in their life. But as they grow into adolescence and adulthood, kids need to be independent, and the best time to teach independence is when they are still quite young.
As an activity, yoga teaches independence and its benefits are entirely valuable to the individual. By allowing your kids to be independent and self-directed during yoga exercise, they learn the skills needed to survive when they grow up and have to make decisions themselves.
#8. It improves mood
Exercising our body makes it release chemicals called endorphins, and these chemicals interact with the receptors in our brain to reduce pain and negative feelings. Since yoga is an exercise, it can help your kids to release negative thoughts and feelings, thereby improving their mood.
As already stated above, yoga also brings about mental clarity, which enables kids to feel better about themselves after filtering out their negative thoughts.
#9. It reduces stress and anxiety
This benefit of yoga for kids is related to the point discussed in number 8. When endorphins are released as a result of doing yoga, they not only improve the mood but also reduce stress and anxiety in kids.
Therefore, if you notice that your kids are going through a lot of stress and anxiety, introducing them to yoga is an effective way to help them out.
As you can see, yoga isn’t only for adults; kids can benefit from it, too. And by introducing it to your children at their young age, you would be giving them a tool that would help them develop a strong mind and body.