With the long list of benefits your child can experience from practicing yoga, you should seriously consider this low-impact exercise when you’re looking for non-medical ways to increase her concentration and well-being. In Sanskrit, the name itself literally means “to bring together the mind, body and spirit.” Incorporating yoga into your child's regular exercise routine can greatly improve her behavior, positively impact her self-image and reduce childhood stress, which makes for a happier, healthier home.
Yoga is a non-competitive, gross motor activity. If practiced regularly, it can improve your child’s strength, balance, agility, endurance, confidence and flexibility, according to Kids Health. Experienced yoga practitioner Juliet Pegrum explains in her book, “Yoga Fun for Toddlers, Children and You,” that yoga positively affects the endocrine system of the body. This glandular system is in charge of regulating and excreting hormones into the bloodstream, helping to uplift mood, improve behavior and influence overall well-being. The ABC-of-Yoga.com website says that children with attention problems who participate in regular yoga sessions experience “enhanced relaxation, improved self-control, do better in school, get along with others and have fewer outbursts,” compared to their lives before practicing yoga.
According to Kids Health, yoga can help improve mental clarity and focus. To properly execute each yoga pose, your child needs to bring her attention to her body, muscles and joints. As she moves through each pose, she must slowly stretch the muscles and hold her body in a certain position for a few breaths before releasing and moving to the next pose. This focus helps slow down her lightning-fast thoughts, brings her attention to the here and now and helps prevent her mind from wandering. You will even notice that she is able to sit still for longer periods of time, and is more alert and receptive. Encourage her to use a focal point during the poses to keep her focused and attentive, like her favorite toy or the clock on the wall.
One of the main focuses of yoga is breathing, or pranayama. Yoga breathing encourages slow, deep belly breaths while moving through the poses. Not only does this style of breathing increase the amount of oxygen your child absorbs into her bloodstream, it also sharpens her awareness while helping her relax her mind and body. Kaplan University points out that this type of breathing can also be used to calm the body in stressful situations, like taking a big test, and bring it back into balance.
Kids’ yoga often incorporates the names of animals, shapes or familiar objects. Choose from any number of kids’ poses. Mountain pose requires your child to stand upright with feet together, chest lifted up, arms down and standing tall and sturdy. Downward facing dog involves positioning the body in an inverted "V" shape with straight arms, back and legs. The cobra pose starts with your child on her tummy, face down with her palms facing down under her shoulders, then she pushes her head and upper body off the floor, toward the ceiling. The monkey pose is similar to a split, with one leg pointing forward and one behind the back. Once in this position, your child raises her hands into the air. For the rag doll pose, your child simply has to stand with feet shoulder width apart, bend at the waist and let her arms and upper body relax toward the floor. The butterfly is a pose where your child sits on the floor with the soles of her feet pushed together, knees pointed away from the body, and the knees are gently flapped up and down like a butterfly.
- Kids Health: Yoga
- Kaplan University: The Benefits of Yoga for Children
- Yoga Fun for Toddlers, Children and You; Juliet Pegrum
- ABC of Yoga: Yoga and ADHD
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