Many of us have heard about the benefits of yoga, but did you know it can be just as beneficial for kids? Yoga also offers more than just physical improvements. Your kid may be feeling a little bit more stress right now, or you may be feeling that they are bouncing off the walls (!). Yoga can help! There have been many studies on the benefits of yoga for kids; it has been shown to increase concentration, memory, and self-esteem, as well as helping children to self-regulate emotions and handle stress and anxiety. As little as half an hour of yoga a day or a few times a week can unlock these benefits for your child and for you, too!
Keep in mind, yoga doesn’t have to be serious or strict. Don’t be afraid to let your silly side out or be too concerned about your child following every pose to the letter. Yoga is a practice, every time you do it you are practicing, not being perfect! Honor where you are today. If today you and your kid are feeling goofy and the time spent on your mats is more about having fun together than stretching and being contemplative – great! Acknowledge that and move forward. You are still taking time to be present in your bodies, be mindful, and spend time together, even if you’re rolling around on your backs and giggling. Calm will come with time, and you and your child will be grateful you made space for your practice no matter what it looks like on a given day. Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment; and carving out dedicated time for one thing – be it yoga or cooking together or reading a story – is in itself an act of mindfulness.
A yoga practice can help kids self-regulate emotions. Great…what does that mean? In this context, it means yoga can put the tools in your child’s toolbox to help them to respond to stress, hyperactivity, anger, anxiety, or sadness (among other feelings). It can teach them breathing techniques so when they are upset, they can come back to their breath to calm themselves down. It can put them in touch with their body, so they can recognize a tightness in their chest that may indicate they are feeling anxious. When they are feeling like they have a lot of energy in their bodies, it provides an outlet to expend that energy. And these tools come with the territory: they are often implicitly taught by just practicing yoga. Your child will likely make these associations on their own; mindfulness on the mat does not end on the mat. The beauty of this is self-regulation, meaning your child can take care of themselves emotionally better than before, which spells less meltdowns and outbursts.
If you know nothing about yoga, you and your child can learn together! There are a plethora of videos available for free, aimed at kids and families. In our video, Amelia, KOC Event Director and 200-hour Baptiste Yoga Certified Instructor, shows you how to do a simple Sun Salutation A, the foundation of a yoga practice. This is a great place to start with your family, and yoga will offer benefits for all involved. One study found that yoga practiced as a family increases kids’ self-esteem and mental health while strengthening the parent-child bond. It allows you to connect with your child, getting to know them better and improving their attitude towards you. When you are learning to be aware of your body together, you can also talk about it together. Meaning not only does your kid have the words to say “my body feels anxious” but they can say them to you, and have the tools to deal with that feeling. Are we saying yoga can improve your relationship with your child and help them to be more confident and resilient? Yes we are! And so is science. Thanks, science. :)