The Benefits of Yoga for Children: Finding Inner Calm and Confidence
Aug 01, 2015 03:20AM
● By Ellen Bonheim
If you practice yoga, chances are you have learned the immeasurable benefits it can have. Some of the emotional benefits adults realize from a regular yoga practice are an increased sense of calm, stress relief, patience, confidence, energy and positivity. Recently, more parents have realized their kids can benefit too and achieve those same results.
From constant social and emotional pressures of social media to the packed schedules and highly competitive culture of sports and school, children today seem to be busier, face more stress and grow up faster than previous generations. With all of this stimulation, how can children find a place of calm, where they can grow confidently and contentedly? Whether a child has a diagnosis such as ADHD or just needs to develop a little more patience, self-confidence or respect for those around them, practicing yoga not only teaches children physical balance, strength and flexibility, but also mental calm and clarity.
A trained, experienced teacher who has earned their certification in childrens’ yoga can design age-appropriate classes to help guide children to learn to find inner calm and control in any situation, concentrate on what truly matters to them, and appreciate the inner beauty that is within every child.
There are classes appropriate for any age child. Daddy/Mommy & Me classes for infants to toddlers are geared to develop the important bond between child and parent and start kids on a life of physical and mental health. Preschool and kindergarten classes offer the basics of yoga through fun, imagination and pretend. They teach children the often challenging life skill of moving quickly from silly, raucous play to quiet, controlled calm. Classes for elementary-aged kids maintain the fun, lighthearted atmosphere but extend the periods of asana (yoga postures), helping kids work on prolonged attention and concentration.
While still geared for a young audience, classes for middle-and highschool students begin to look and feel more like an adult yoga practice. They incorporate more spirituality and give students confidence, strength, positivity, and the ability to love themselves for their uniqueness and ability. Family classes can create a wonderful sense of togetherness and shared experience for the entire family.
Like many other children, Peter* is a normal 6 year old boy who has difficulty staying in his seat during school. He sometimes has a hard time listening to others and being patient. In yoga class, Peter loves tree pose. He laughs every time his teacher leads the class in “growing” from small saplings into tall, beautiful oaks, reaching high into the sky, and standing proudly, waving in the breeze. When he needs to sit quietly in class, he remembers this pose and sits tall and still, realizing the quiet strength he feels in class when he stands like a tree.
Isabella*, a student in middle school, struggles with self-esteem and is often short-tempered with her family. Since beginning her yoga practice, Isabella is now able to give herself direction and foundation by choosing something she wants to achieve each day. It may be maintaining focus while preparing for a test, taking a moment of quiet contemplation to build her confidence before a big soccer game, or remembering that her long curls are part of what make her unique, special and beautiful.
Both Peter and Isabella still have their daily struggles, but they are learning how to handle them with the help of their yoga practices. They are continuing to develop into mature, proud young adults with better coping skills.
Consider yoga for your children, whatever their age and unique challenges. It is truly a gift that can help any child grow to be the best, happiest, most confident kid they can be.
*Names changed for privacy
Ellen Bonheim is the owner of Firefly Family Yoga in Ridgefield. The Firefly team of certified yoga and wellness professionals offer prenatal/postnatal, mommy & me, kids, teen, gentle flow and family yoga classes, as well as services such as Reiki, hypnotherapy, nutrition, meditation, lactation advice, occupational therapy and essential oils. She can be reached at FireflyFamilyYoga.com.