Yoga is an important part of your life, and so you want to model this healthy lifestyle for your son or daughter as they grow. Not only that, you want to go out of your way to teach them yoga poses they can do on their own. You may be wondering what age it is appropriate to get little ones into yoga asanas. The truth is that yoga is incredibly beneficial for people of all ages, from 0 to 100!
Yoga offers both physical and psychological benefits for growing bodies and minds. Of course, the physical benefits of having a healthy, flexible, and fit body are numerous. Yoga improves balance, strength, and endurance in children. Beyond this, research has shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior. It can even reduce anxiety and stress in adolescents.
If you’re ready to guide the kids you love down a path of a healthy yoga habit, here’s a quick guide to getting started:
No one is too young to start yoga, not even babies! Did you know that children are born able to practice yoga poses? It comes naturally to them. There are many yoga poses that you and your baby can do together. Baby Cobra is perfect!
Create a yoga-friendly environment by encouraging your baby to express themself through movement and by praising them for their efforts. Babies at this age will learn yoga poses by watching you, reading yoga stories for children, and learning to stretch their bodies.
Teaching toddlers is quite different from teaching older children or adults and should be approached differently. For toddlers and young kids, acting out their favorite animals is a fantastic way to introduce real yoga poses. Even kids as young as two years old can do Downward Facing Dog. Teach them to pretend to be a giraffe and do an Extended Mountain Pose. Have them practice a squat pose and pretend to be a duck. Practice Cobbler’s Pose by pretending their legs are a butterfly. As they get older, you can introduce more poses of increasing skill.
Children excel when they’re in a soothing, calm, and friendly environment. This is what you should aim to provide to your child when they’re learning and practicing yoga. Many kids of all ages can do a Boat Pose, Bridge Pose, Bow Pose, Extended Cat Pose, and Dolphin Pose. Focus on having fun with movement, not on practicing perfectly aligned poses.
Offer them a variety of options and let them decide. Say yes as often as possible, so they feel they own their yoga practice. Be sure to explain to them it isn’t just about moving your body, but also being calm and still. Teach them mindful meditation and breathing techniques to fill the time they’re in each asana. Have your young yogi take a deep breath in and hold it for a count of three. Then, tell them to breathe out forcefully, like they’re blowing out a candle on their birthday cake.
Also, be sure you cater to their energy levels and different learning styles. This should be a positive experience for the child, not something they “passed” or “failed.”
You don’t need to be told how important it is for teens to have a positive body image and be able to deal with negative emotions in a healthy way. With changing bodies, powerful feelings, and pressure from school, yoga can be a fantastic outlet that allows teens to look inward and find their center. A quick 20 minutes a day is all it takes for a teen to practice self-love and learn how to take care of themself.
A teen’s world is chaotic and fast. First, help them to relax. Emphasize how important it is to practice yoga while being still and quiet. Give your teen lots of time to let the asanas sink in to help them slow down and turn inward. At the same time, teenagers love to be challenged physically and mentally so don’t treat them like a baby or he or she will lose interest. Build poses starting from easy variations then give options to add greater challenge. Make sure to emphasize that doing a more challenging variation does not make them “better at yoga,” because it isn’t a competition. Reinforce that doing yoga well simply means moving with consciousness and awareness of breath.
Yoga will quickly become a way of fostering a healthy lifestyle for your entire family. You’ll all feel happier, sleep better, and love the time you’re spending together. Practicing yoga together in a positive environment will open up the opportunity to create special moments together. As well, introducing yoga to her or him at an early age will keep them active and fit. It will also give them the foundational tools they need to be healthy, mentally and physically, for a lifetime.