Whilst yoga has been historically popular for mums and babies, it has become increasingly popular amongst children and young people. We explore the ancient art of yoga and what it can teach our children and teenagers.
Yoga was developed in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. Taken from the ancient language of Sanskrit the word ‘yoga’ literally means to “yoke or unite the mind, body and spirit”. There are over 100 different schools of yoga practiced worldwide. Although each school has its own specific practices, they all have one universal goal “to achieve the state of bliss and oneness with the universe''. (1)
So what are the benefits of getting your child into Yoga and where do you start to look for a suitable Yoga class for children? We are on hand to guide you through with our fascinating insights into this ancient form of exercise and wellbeing.
Yoga - The Benefits:
Yoga for all
One of the fantastic things about Yoga is that any child or young person regardless of their fitness ability can take part in a class. Through breathing exercises and gentle Yoga poses it can help towards increasing flexibility, agility and coordination as well as balance and strength.
Disconnect from the digital world
In our modern world children can often feel overstimulated and distracted with electronic devices and the digital age. For teenagers and young people in particular social media interactions can place a lot of pressure on them to look and behave in a certain way. This could lead to a feeling of inadequacy or not achieving enough compared to their peers. Yoga classes for children can introduce them to mindfulness from an early age. Through breathing, relaxation and different Yoga poses, children and young people can find an alternative way of detaching themselves from the every day stresses of school and relationships with their peers.
Healthy body, healthy mind
Yoga teaches children to focus through various breathing exercises and games. This all contributes to teaching mindfulness, which in turn can help children to unwind and relax. Mindfulness can be described as “a way of paying attention to and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives”. (2) Focusing on breathing and/or learning new Yoga poses can also help to develop a child’s level of concentration both in and outside the classroom.
Yoga helps your child to develop their own body awareness, through learning how to use their bodies for health and fitness. Yoga classes for children and in particular young people can also help to increase confidence and promote a positive self-image. This is mainly due to Yoga not being considered as a competitive sport or activity for children. Yoga can therefore be practised, learnt and explored at each individual child’s own pace.
Yoga - The Kit:
What kit will your child need for their Yoga class? The good news is not very much! Here is our checklist below.
It is best to check with the Yoga instructor first, but usually a Yoga kit consists of comfortable loose fitting clothes such as jogging bottoms or leggings (for girls) and a t-shirt. Children won’t need any footwear as Yoga is performed in bare feet
Yoga mat - their own Yoga space
A Yoga mat for your child can be seen as their mini sanctuary while practicing Yoga. Although this may be an optional piece of kit as many Yoga classes provide these. Again check with the Yoga instructor before buying one, unless they would like their very own mat.
Keep their energy up!
It is always good to keep their energy levels up after any form of exercise or activity. Don’t
forget a healthy snack and bottle of water for after their Yoga class.
Yoga - Three top tips to consider:
Hatha, Yyengar or Vinyasa?
Where do you start when looking for the right Yoga instruction for your child? Yoga classes for children are likely to be a generic form, however teenagers and young people may have access to more of the various forms of Yoga. A good starting point is to research the different forms of Yoga. Each form focuses on a key area whether that be meditation, breathing or posture. Look at the different forms and identify which would best suit your child.
Keeping it fun!
Can you find out more about the class syllabus before committing to Yoga lessons? Make sure that the class will be structured for your child’s age group. For example, do they encourage fun games and activities whilst incorporating breathing exercises and Yoga positions? Is the class fun and engaging? It’s important that the Yoga class is structured according to age and ability for your child to learn and enjoy the lessons.
Setting the scene
Check that the Yoga instructor holds all the correct certification for teaching Yoga to children. Experience and training is important especially when teaching children and young people new Yoga poses. Are they first aid trained in case of the unlikely event of any injuries? Finally, find out where the Yoga class will take place. Is the studio or space warm and comfortable enough for your child to fully participate with the activity?
Yoga - How to get involved:
Yoga classes are available for babies even before they are born, with pregnancy yoga classes being very popular. After birth, there are a range of mother and baby classes that offer a gentle introduction to relaxation and poses. Usually Yoga classes for children start when kids can learn how to hold basic Yoga positions for themselves, from the ages of 4-5 years.
We are lucky enough to have several Yoga classes for children to choose from in the local area. This week we turn the spotlight onto the following: Yogiki and Yoga Cubs.
Yogiki are based in Kingston-upon-Thames and run Yoga classes for kids aged 2 to 12 years. Teacher Yelena started Yogiki after having her daughter in 2013. At Yogiki they teach the art of Yoga by playing fun games, storytelling, dancing, listening to music and singing yogi songs as well as doing art-related yogi activities, and practicing visualisation and gentle meditation.
YogaCubs have classes for children aged 2 -11 across Surrey, London and surrounding areas. YogaCubs teach postures (or Asanas) through stories, rhymes and songs mixed with breathing and relaxation techniques.
If Yoga sounds like the right after school activity for your child, and you want to find out more about local activity in your area - we can help! Let us search for the after school children classes that matter to you. We will then package all of the options into a handy bespoke schedule, perfect for co-ordinating the family calendar. For more information, visit the Parents page of our website.