You understand the benefits of Yoga, which is why you incorporate yoga into your life. The mat is where you go to focus on yourself, your body and being present in the world. You challenge yourself on the mat and often come back amazed at how much your body has changed and has learned. You’ve also noticed how much of the calm, concentration that you’ve brought from the mat into your everyday life.
If you are a parent, you want the same benefits for your children. I mean, can you imagine having the tools that yoga has given you now in your teen and college years?
But, when I’m chatting with teachers or other professionals and talking to parents there are many concerns that are voiced. Here are a few that I’ve heard:
The poses are too difficult and are held too long for my child
With adult yoga classes, the focus is putting your body into the pose. Getting into the pose is the challenge. For most 5 year olds, however, getting into the pose is the easy part.
Usually, children’s yoga is more about movement, creativity and imagination. Yoga sessions do not go on for 75 minutes doing poses non-stop. There are games, taking turns, stories and other activities.
My child’s body is not developed enough for yoga
I’ve read on forums about a child’s development and even sweat glands being a concern about practicing yoga. A child’s attention span is much shorter, and for many children’s classes, the focus is not on getting children into perfect poses and adjusting the child’s body, but the joy of movement, breathing and being present.
I’m not sure I can get my child to stay still
Again, most yoga for kids instructors are fully aware that getting a child to stay still is a feat in itself. This is why they incorporate stories, games and visualizations to hold the child’s attention. Most children’s classes are broken down into 20 minute mini-sessions and this is not the quiet environment that comes with an adult yoga class. There are lots of animal noises, calling out colors and even music in a typical class.
How can I introduce yoga to my child?
There are many ways to introduce your child to yoga. Books like mine are a great introduction if you want something that’s cheaper and will give you and your child a taste of yoga for kids. This is a great test to see if yoga is right for your child. If they’re not enjoying the yoga, you’ve still got a lovely picture book. Another good way to introduce your child to yoga is to buy a DVD or download a video. There are some excellent resources on Amazon and YouTube.
Once you know that your child is interested in yoga (and it’s surprising how many are!) You may then want to explore further by registering your child for a Yoga class led by a trained Yoga for Children teacher. This is important because the instructor will know how to engage your child in yoga. Other yoga teachers are not trained in getting a child interested in the poses.
Finally, ask about yoga programs in your child’s school and the community. Studies have shown that classrooms and schools benefit greatly from yoga by reducing bullying and behavioral problems.
Lakshmi Gosyne is an author, illustrator, web designer and teacher. She worked as a preschool and primary school teacher for 16 years before writing two yoga story books: Jungle Walk: A Yoga Story for Kids and Waiting for Dad: A Yoga Story for Kids. You can find out more at www.lakshmigosyne.com