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Yoga Breathing: An Important Foundation for All Ages
A large part of yoga is the practice of pranayama deep breathing which initiates our parasympathetic nervous system and slows everything down. The slowing down of our nervous system promotes a balanced mind and body and therefore less stress and internal pressure. The skill of learning to breathe, relax and concentrate is a vital skill that children need for test taking and to handle the pressures of being a kid. Yoga can also aid in better and deeper night of sleep for both adults and children alike.
When most people think of yoga they think of 20-60 year old individuals attending a class at their local gym or at a trendy yoga studio. However, yoga for kids is becoming increasingly popular and has proven to have many significant benefits for children of all ages.
First and foremost, yoga teaches children self-awareness of their body with specific focus on physical movements that increase relaxation, deep breathing, and alignment. Yoga is also practiced in a non-competitive environment which allows kids to gain self-confidence and feel comfortable exploring new postures and trying out new things without feeling like they will leave as either a winner or a loser. The Yoga Journal states that, "The physical movements introduce kids to yoga's true meaning: union, expression, and honor for oneself and one's part in the delicate web of life."1
Yoga practices are now being incorporated into many schools and instructors have found that with a little creativity, yoga with children can be not only beneficial, but also life changing for some challenging students. Yoga in schools and with young children is usually based around storytelling, instrument playing, and creating a safe space for exploratory movement. Almost all children love pretending to be a warrior, flower or any type of animal so the key comes in teaching them to hold the poses and be still within them.
Studies have shown that not only does yoga increase body awareness and promote confidence, it can also fight against childhood obesity, decrease classroom behavioral issues and increase concentration in young children. Kaplan University states that, "Yoga is a holistic, comprehensive approach to stress, and can offset stressors by providing a moment of pause amidst all the activity. The word yoga originates from the Sanskrit meaning 'to yoke,' to bring together in the mind, body, and spirit. Using breathing integrated with physical postures and relaxation methods, yoga creates experiences to develop a healthy and balanced life. This safe and nurturing environment can also foster physical, intellectual, and spiritual development."2
Yoga leaves children and adults alike feeling relaxed, calm, peaceful, in control and aware of both themselves and others around them. According to Kaplan University "Yoga works by engaging the whole body and mind, providing activities that incorporate learning styles such as visual, kinesthetic, musical, intuitive, and naturalist (the awareness of one’s personal environment and interaction with nature)."2 Whether you choose to enroll your child in a class at a yoga studio or teach them some poses in the living room, get your child and up and practicing!
Yoga Journal, “Yoga for Kids.”
Kaplan University, “The Benefits of Yoga for Children.”