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This article was written and shared to me by Sandra of the website Sports Management Degrees. Thanks Sandra!
Yoga, the ancient Indian art of stretching, breathing, and meditation, has never been more popular. Since its beginnings over 5,000 years ago, millions of people around the world incorporate the practice of yoga in their daily lives. However, many people who practice yoga have never thought about sharing this activity with their children. Here, we have found 25 great reasons why you should encourage your kids to do yoga.
- 1. It builds healthier eating habits. Some studies indicate that kids who practice yoga may choose healthier foods.
2. Yoga helps kids deal with life’s stress. When kids “slow down” to participate in the practice of yoga, they learn techniques to help them deal with life’s challenges.
3. Yoga helps children develop creativity. A holistic approach to teaching yoga allows children to experience yoga along with creative activities such as storytelling, expressive movement, and even art.
4. Practicing yoga helps kids learn how to control their emotions. Especially for kids with autism spectrum disorders or other behavioral issues, the calming techniques learned in yoga may help them manage emotional outbursts.
5. Practicing yoga helps build self-esteem. Studies show that children suffering from eating disorders report an improved self-image on the days they practice yoga. But even “normal” children will have a better sense of self after practicing yoga.
6. Yoga is a non-competitive way to exercise. When children practice yoga, they learn ways to exercise that don’t involve winning or losing. Everybody feels good after doing yoga.
7. Yoga improves self-discipline. Children who are learning yoga also learn to master their own behavior. They learn to control themselves, rather than waiting for others to tell them what to do.
8. Yoga may help kids with ADHD. Studies from the University of Heidelberg suggest that yoga, in coordination with other therapies, may help kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
9. Yoga improves strength. Despite appearing to be a low-impact activity, yoga requires greater muscular strength the more advanced one becomes. Children develop stronger muscles from practicing yoga.
10. Yoga also improves flexibility. The deep stretching and breathing involved in yoga improves muscular flexibility, which is important for avoiding injuries.
11. Practicing yoga improves focus and attention. Yoga requires concentration. While some kids might not find this easy at first, the more they practice, the easier focusing will be.
12. Yoga play allows children to learn bodily self-awareness. By deliberately moving the body and thinking about the way it feels, children develop more self-awareness.
13. Yoga helps children develop control and awareness of their breathing. Breath awareness and the ability to calm down and meditate are important skills that children can use for their whole lives.
14. Yoga builds listening skills.Taking a yoga class builds good listening skills, helping your child be more respectful of others.
15. Yoga improves balance and coordination. Many yoga poses require the ability to balance. This is not always easy for children at first, but as they continue to practice, their balance will improve.
16. Yoga helps prevent sports injuries. By improving strength and overall flexibility, yoga can help young athletes prevent injury to growing bones and muscles.
17. Yoga develops the skill of midline crossing. It’s something adults take for granted, but any activity that encourages crossing the midline, or the imaginary line at the center of your body, is beneficial for motor skills.
18. Yoga is a fun way to get exercise! Doing playful yoga poses is a great, non-threatening way for kids to get moving. They can pretend to be the animals or objects named in the pose, such as the cobra, the tiger, or the mountain.
19. Yoga encourages a positive outlook. Yoga is such a calming, restful, and fun activity that it’s hard not to feel good afterwards. Kids who do yoga on a regular basis report feeling happier.
20. Yoga helps children develop directionality. Young children who have a hard time telling the difference between right and left will be helped by practicing yoga.
22. Yoga helps kids build patience. It takes patience and time to learn a new physical skill, and as new yoga poses are introduced, your child may not be able to do it all at first. But the important thing is that a good yoga instructor will give the child encouragement and time.
23. Yoga improves posture. Children that spend a lot of time seated at desks in school or in front of the computer at home may develop upper body tension and increased spinal pressure. Yoga relieves this.
24. With yoga, the focus is on the individual. Rather than being pressured to do exactly the same thing as the others in class, a child practicing yoga is on an individual journey within the class. An instructor can give feedback to each child and each child feels like they have learned something.
25. Yoga can help kids with special needs. Yoga has been shown to be helpful and therapeutic for children with Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other physically limiting conditions. Each child is different, so of course you should ask your pediatrician or specialist.
School ends. Summer begins. It seems so black and white. However, there does exist the gray in between—a period of transition. Not every child or adult does well with the murky middle of transition. In fact, many people thrive on routine and the known. The unknown can cause much anxiety. Minds turn to the what ifs of the future or linger on the comfort of the past.
My own family’s summer consists of weeks of various camps mixed with some week-long time off. We always start off that first partial summer week with few obligations. This abrupt change from scheduled school to freedom often has some hiccups. Unused to unlimited free time, my kids will often walk around disgruntled. Ten months of predetermined, every-moment-planned time at school weakens my kid’s independent play skills. They may have strengthened their minds with math, writing and facts about science and history, but the part of their brains needed to function when specific directions don’t exist needs time to fire back up.
I try not to get anxious when I see this struggle occur. It is so easy to fill in this empty time with ideas or excursions when “I’m bored” is the mantra of the hour. Instead I sit quietly sharing their discomfort in the effort to get my children to explore their own creative interests and ideas. It is during these times that my children discover things about themselves that perhaps have even more value than a teacher’s high mark. This push through the inertia of boredom often opens new doors to self-motivated action and pursuits propelled from within that may guide them into areas of true strength and passion.
There have been articles written connecting boredom with weight gain in women or substance abuse in teens. Perhaps those who never had the time to explore and push through the boredom as children try to bury those uncomfortable feelings that accompany boredom when they get older. Perhaps in finding the yoga in boredom—staying with the feelings that surface—you to come to the other side stronger and with skills that will guide you in the future.
When the cries of boredom begin this summer, take some yoga breaths and stay present. Ride out the discomfort of the moment by doing nothing. Acknowledge the feelings that arise within when the kid’s undirected energy begins to create anxiety and choose to stay put. This inaction may surprise your kids, but perhaps it is the very action required to help them discover surprises about themselves this summer.
I am a huge fan of the show So You Think You Can Dance. The talent it amazing to watch. One of this season’s contestants is B-Boy Jose Ruiz. His street dancing is incredible, but he has shown his ability to adapt to many different styles of dance. He also is a yogi!
I love that in this video clip Jose explains that yoga helps him with his dance, but that he also does yoga for the benefits it gives to his mind. What a great role model!
In my last post I questioned my tactics about summer scheduling. I lamented about how hectic our summers have become with camps here and there. After a crazy Saturday filled with end of the year dance recitals and yoga demos at Midtown Athletic club. We packed up the car for an overnight at “the lake house”. We left pretty late. It was getting far into the dinner hour. I didn’t want to cave in to eating out again.
An quick aside… my pediatrician surprised me during my daughter’s latest yearly physical. I was asked to fill out a form that focused mainly on eating habits. One of the questions was how often we ate out a week. The answers we were either 0-1, 2-4, 5+. I am a health nut. (See my post about chocolate chip cookies with chick peas! ) I circled the number 2 as we do take the kids out for dinner once a week and we sometimes go out for lunch during the weekend. The doctor looked at me incredulously and said that the recommendation is to eat out once a month! I completely understand why—portions are enormous, chefs cook for flavor and not for health, the menu may not have healthy choices. Truthfully, I think school lunches in the cafeteria are a much greater problem, but that is another post…
So…back to the story. The kids, though already ravenous, ran to the water to look for fossils as I started dinner close to 7pm. The wonders of nature occupied my little guys as I concocted a delicious grilled chicken dinner accompanied by a fruit salad and fat-free baked beans. It was yummy and healthy. The doctor would have been proud!
We followed dinner with a boat ride at dusk, we played the game Bananagrams and then we all went to bed.
There is just something about the lake. It is magical.
Usually the house is packed full—my parents, my siblings, their kids. We total 15 people and two dogs. The house is full of life. However, this weekend the weather was overcast and rainy. Just my folks were around. We had the place to ourselves. We bonded with each other–especially my kids. Usually with the cousins around the two don’t have a reason to play together. They are opposite sexes and almost four years apart so their interests differ quite a bit. This weekend these two found the playmate in each other. It was one of those magical summer moments that I was nostalgic about in my last post. The boredom hits and you turn to nature and your sibling for fun.
I was able to do some yoga, read a book, bake some of those chocolate chip cookies I mentioned above, take a boat ride with my husband and play board games with the kids.
We may have a busy summer ahead. But then each weekend, the magic of the lake brings us back to what’s important—time together. The meditative lapping of the water slows down our breath and puts us in a summer frame of mind—at least until the Monday morning alarm goes off.
Have a great week friends.
The countdown until the end of school began last week. We are almost at the finish line, and truthfully, I’m ready to run back and start the race again. I know that other people probably do things differently during the summer. I know there must be families out there sleeping in every morning, lounging by their pools, having picnics at the park and feeling the pace slow down. I vaguely remember those memories when my kids were babies and toddlers (minus the sleeping in part). But the living is not easy come summertime in this household. Beginning the Monday of summer break, both kids are busy with camps on opposite sides of the city – one sailing and the other learning to take care of and ride horses. That is just the start of the summer camp craziness.
I believe that summer is a time to recharge, explore new possibilities and to branch out and grow. Both of my kids are going to various camps that will broaden their worlds, teach them interesting skills and perhaps spark a lifetime passion. I am happy to provide them these opportunities. I am just not anxious to wake up early, pack more lunches and drive and drive and drive.
Besides trying to coordinate the kids’ plans (which do actually include a week here and there off of planned activities), I am trying to figure out when I can teach some yoga, lead some yoga camps and play with my friends.
My friends and I tend to play by running, biking or swimming. I have a Sprint Triathlon in August and another marathon in the fall to train for (yes, I am trying to qualify for Boston. I said it and expect you all to hold me to this!). So the summertime is a busy time and time when I sometimes find myself in my car more and not less.
Last year a local mother here in Rochester, Laura Jean Diekmann, decided to do something different with her kids. She created a 12 week at-home camp for her kids and called it Doing It All Camp. Each week has a different theme. During the cooking week the kids designed menus, picked recipes, bought the food and prepared the meals. The movie week included script writing, set designing, location scouting and more. Her ideas have, in my opinion, a homeschooling approach where learning is accompanied by creative exploration and a lot of fun.
I love the ideas and plan to do a week or two of Doing It All Camp on the weeks when the kids are home and camp-less.
That all being said, the family does tend to live outdoors during the summer. We have impromptu s’more making in the outdoor fire pit with neighbors. We find time to take family bike rides and to relax at the lake on the weekends connecting to cousins and grandparents. We listen to my husband play guitar outside until the bugs drive us inside to safety. We grill and eat out frequently. We take post dinner walks with the dog. Summer does give us more pockets of time to connect as a family and with nature.
So how about you? How do you do summer? Please leave a comment!
Are you looking for an end of the year gift for a teacher or a student? Here are some unique yoga gifts that keep on giving.
Donna Freeman, from Yoga in My School, wrote a great yoga book for kids called Once Upon a Pose. This simple book provides teachers and parents with an easy to use yoga adventure story combined with pictures of the accompanying poses. This book would also be a great gift idea for a French teacher as half of the book is written in French. Combining physical poses with French vocabulary words is a great method to teach children with different learning styles.
Shanti Generation for Youth Peacemakers is a wonderful DVD to give to a graduating student. The video is beautifully designed and provides young adults with many helpful yoga sequences to aid them throughout their lives. The video allows the viewer to choose sequences for creating happiness, for increasing energy and for finding internal calm and peace.
For your traveling yogi, Yoga-Paws allows you to take your yoga anywhere without dragging along your yoga mat. The gloves and “socks” have a rubber bottom that allows you to flow on any surface without slipping.
A yoga gift is a gift that will last a lifetime.