Yoga has loads of advantages to your child's mental and physical growth, hence it is better to start early. Kids can start Yoga at the early age of 5 years. The Yoga classes for kids between 5 to 7 has to be a maximum of 30 minutes and mixed with games and fun activities. Interactive games are the key for engaging children as they have a shorter attention span than adults and loads of energy. The sweet spot or the best age to start serious yoga with Pranayama and Meditation for children would be from the age of 8. For children above 8 years, the classes can be longer, up to 45mins to 1 hour.
Young children's bones are still growing and tender, hence postures that put a certain amount of stress on the skeletal system can make their bones bend. Example: Padmasana (Lotus Pose) should be avoided until the age of 13.
Advantages of Kids-Yoga for the Body
The advantages of Yoga in adults and children are similar but not the same. Yoga for children has some special advantages which are explained below.
(1) Increases Body Awareness
In Yoga, we focus on the body movement, changes in the body such as blood flow, heartbeat, breathing, weight distribution etc. These activities within Yoga improves self-, body- and spatial awareness. Spatial relations and distinguishing between right and left is also developed through yoga. Many postures are repeated on both the right and left side of the body. This repetition harmonizes the left and right hemisphere of the brain.
(2) Helps in Symmetrical Development
Many adults suffer from the problem of asymmetry in flexibility and strength. Depending on whether the person is right-handed or left-handed, one side of the body tends to be more flexible and stronger than the other. Some sports such as tennis, baseball, cricket, golf etc. tend to increase this asymmetry. This issue is solved early on in children by doing yoga, as the postures are repeated on both the right and left side of the body, hence helping the body to develop uniformly and symmetrically.
(3) Refines Balance and Coordination
In addition, spatial and body-awareness is developed when children are required to process controlled yoga movements. This provides children with the ability to detect their body’s positioning and be in control of their own movements. It helps improve their body coordination, balance and develops motor skills.
(4) Increases Flexibility
This is the most know benefit of Yoga among adults of all ages. The special difference here is that children are more flexible than adults. The muscle tissue in children is as flexible as muscle tissue in adults. The difference is the connective tissue. Children can extend their ligaments and tendons further than adults. It is particularly important for children to work on flexibility as they head toward their growth spurt (Between the age of 8-15). During the rapid growth, flexibility decreases. Increased flexibility can prevent injuries, and improve athletic performances.
Effective stretching can improve performance, but overstretching can be harmful to the body by reducing the stability of joints.
Advantages of Kids-Yoga for the Mind
(1) Helps to manage Anxiety
Constant use of smartphones and social media has given rise to new demands and expectations. Research shows that Yoga and Meditation reduce and/or manage the psychological effects of stress and anxiety in kids. It is very important that early in life, children get exposed to working from within because the outside world can only be managed to a certain extent. Yoga and Meditation can help children realise that true happiness comes from within.
(2) Enhances Concentration and Memory
It is proven that a combination of Yoga with Pranayama, Meditation and Prayers increases concentration levels and improve short term memory. Research also shows that Yoga is beneficial for children with attention problems.
Trataka Kriya for example not only improves concentration and memory but also improves vision and strengthens the eye muscles. Inversion Asanas such as shoulder-stand, head-stand, downward dog, wheel etc., increase blood circulation to the head region hence increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients supply to the brain.
(3) Yoga is Non-Competitive
Competition is everywhere, it might be among siblings, classmates or friends. Healthy competition is good, it pushes us to perform better and grow. But these days due to social media, the bar of expectation is set to a global level. It is a constant reminder that there is always someone doing something better than us and this subconsciously affects the self-esteem and self-worth of our children. Yoga is one of the rare physical activities where there is no competition. It gives a break from peer pressures and competition with other kids.
(4) Helps to Control Emotional and Cognitive Impulses
When children are provided daily or weekly yoga practise, it allows them to apply skills learned during yoga to everyday circumstances that require emotional, social, and physical regulation. When children encounter stressful situations at school or at home, they learn to recognize external cues that cause frustration and then apply the learned techniques to maintain emotional stability. This is especially helpful during puberty. Self-regulation is the ability of young children to control their emotional and cognitive impulses. Acquiring these self-regulation skills at a young age is critical for school readiness and has also been associated with academic success.
I hope the above article gave you all the information required to introduce Yoga to your child. Like and comment if you have any general questions. And feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any special queries. Click here to book a 30mins Online Yoga trial session for Free!
(3) 7 Benefits of Yoga for Young Kids (https://azearlychildhood.org/resources/articles/7-benefits-of-yoga-for-young-kids/)
(4) Investigating Early Childhood Teachers’ Perceptions of a Preschool Yoga Program
Kenya Wolff, Alicia Stapp (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2158244018821758)
(5) How Children Grow And Develop (http://rcga.org/_uploads/documents/L2P/EN/pg_078-079_Are%20children%20naturally%20flexible_.pdf)