Yoga for Kids: Why Not?
Picture this: a Hindu with his extremities extended and looped beyond your comprehension. Now add to that a vision of a group of people, seemingly-chanting as they breathe in and out forcefully. Now the question: Would you enroll your kids in a yoga class? Or would you think twice?
Wipe that smirk off your face. There ARE yoga classes for children, and yes, they can be fun!
Just like adults, kids are exposed to modern-day stress. They might not have office work begging to be taken home, but they too, can end up exhausted. Homeworks, school activities (it can be sports or academics), even a jam-packed schedule (do ballet and piano lessons sound familiar?) can fuse them out.
Yoga for kids is ,in so many ways, similar to adult yoga. Kids’ Yoga teaches awareness of one’s senses, coordination and being flexible. Just like adults, kids learn to relax through yoga.
Fun and creativity are incorporated in kids’ yoga. Poses that are animated and basic stretches promote coordination, strong bodies, flexibility and awareness of one’s self. The approach also includes focusing, relaxing and self-control techniques. These promote spiritual strength, confidence and high regard for self. Respect for all creatures is also taught. To add to all these, their imagination is constantly stimulated. Children also learn to visualize.
A curriculum, if we must use that term, could include games that allow kids to interact; study of animals and their movements (they could soon learn to pose like a cow, chicken, cat, pig, horse, butterfly or even an elephant!); nature and its beauty (which could include simple poses like star, rainbow and half moon); and simple anatomy.
Just like its adult counterpart, yoga for kids also has levels. There are separate classes for toddlers and their parents (this class stresses highly on parent-child coordination and focuses more on music, toys and basic poses); preschoolers (this class now introduces physical activities like interactive games, animal mimicry and additional poses); Afterschoolers, aged 5-12 (this class introduces concentration, management of stress and proper relaxation. More complex poses and games are taught).
Susan Kramer, a yoga author and enthusiast, listed a few basic poses and relaxation techniques that we could introduce to children of all ages.
Leaf Pose- Begin with a straight back and joined feet. This is the basic position for all poses. Hold both ankles with hands then slowly arch the spine outward then go back to the straight-back position. Repeat.
Flower Pose- Begin with the basic position. Hold both ankles and bounce your knees 10-20 times on the floor.
Cricket Pose- Basic position. You could also allow the child to sit with legs crossed. Hold ankles. Tilt head alternately, from looking forward then up. Next, touch right ear on right shoulder. Do this with the left ear, too. Repeat.
Owl Pose- Cross legs then sit down with arms by your side and palms on the ground. Move head by looking, first to the right, then to the left. If floor can support it, spin your body by using your hands. Repeat.
Bird Pose- Basic position. Put clasped hands on the lower back. Do a shoulder-blade pull together. Tilt head backwards and look up. Hold, release, relax. Bend your head forward. Repeat.
Squirrel Pose- With legs crossed, sit down. Raise your arms upward and stretch each one slowly. Always look up. Next, stretch your arms sidewards, doing backward and forward circles with them.
Chipmunk Pose- Cross both legs and, again, sit down. Keep arms on your sides. Twist torso sideways, both ways. Head should be looking at back part of the arm. Go to focal position then stretch your arms upward. Bend sideways, right and left. Always look upfront. Repeat.
Rocker Pose- Sitting with legs crossed, place hands on the floor, by your side. Next, put hands on shoulders. Rock forward then backward, or from one side to the other. Relax your back. Do not fall over.
Seal Pose- Begin by sitting with legs apart and with the back straight. Twist body towards one leg. Reach and hold that leg with your two hands, then lean. 4 counts should do it. Next, lean forward in between both legs while holding them. Arch your back while doing this. To finish, point your left foot while the right foot is flexed, and vice versa. Repeat with rythm.
Salutation Pose- With your legs wide apart and a straight spine, sit down. Stretch legs but not to the point of being taut. Point the toes. Press your palms and salute. Tension should be released. Press once more. Raise arms then outward to your side. Stretch your arms while raising them again. Position your hands like you’re praying. Relax. Repeat.
Snake Pose- Lie down, put legs together and bend knees. Keep feet flat on the floor and your arms by your side. The upper portion of your back should be relaxed. Fill lungs with air. Do some abdominal contractions and hold. Relax. Repeat.
These are but a few poses. More are available to be perused on the net. Now we head on to achieving the quiet moment:
For 2-10 minutes, meditate by sitting with your legs crossed. Make sure that the back is straight. With hands clasped, rest them on your lap. Eyes should be closed. Breathe in and out, taking care that this is done with ease. Count while breathing. 50 reps (or 50 breathes) should do it. Once finished, your eyes should be opened slowly, then stretch while standing up.
Walking could also be incorporated with meditation. This is best for kids that have boundless energy. It’s easy to do: while walking, just inhale and exhale while concentrating.
While lying on their back, kids could do some yoga, too. Just ask them to keep their eyes closed and think of a pendulum or a swing. Let them relax and feel the moment while undisturbed. Open your eyes, stretch and slowly sit up to finish the meditation.
With these few examples and information, we could conclude that the fruits of engaging our youngsters into yoga are innumerable. Aside from emotional intelligence, kids could develop into mature, physically-able individuals. And yes, every parent wants that!