By Jenny Park
Is Yoga for toddlers pushing little ones beyond their limits or an education enhancement with rewards that will last a lifetime? While there will be critics of everything, we can definitely see the benefits of yoga for children of all ages.
Think of a toddler and you might conjure images of big, bright eyes, chubby legs standing with wobbly confidence, and an eagerness to explore, explore, explore. Although the word “yoga” probably didn’t cross your mind, it is a healthy activity for toddlers to engage in. No, we cannot expect toddlers to remain silent, breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, and flow seamlessly from one pose to the next. However, toddlers can imitate versions of many poses and learn the value of stretching the body and energizing muscles with increased blood flow.
Yoga for toddlers can incorporate quiet, soothing music and dim lights. An active leader can name each pose, demonstrate it, and ask the children to imitate it. Often, yoga for children involves tweaking the adult poses a bit to relate them to an animal, nature, or other common item in the world. Toddlers are soaking up sights and sounds every minute of the day and can readily relate to these concrete objects. Animal poses can also incorporate each animal’s sound, which will delight young children. Common poses for toddlers include the frog, lion, mountain, waterfall, tree, butterfly, rolling like a ball, and cobra. Yoga instructors might also consider teaching toddler yoga through an interactive story, where the children act out the poses as the story unfolds.
Yoga for toddlers has many positive outcomes. It improves balance, flexibility, and coordination. In toddlers especially, yoga can help develop language. As toddlers learn to associate body movement with everyday vocabulary, their brains form strong connections with new words. Yoga improves children’s concentration and creativity and gives them a sense of calm.
Please bear in mind, those teaching a yoga for toddlers class will be required to provide short explanations, lots of movement, and a positive, fun atmosphere. Toddler classes should generally include about 15 minutes of yoga poses. Take breaks when necessary, allowing children to run or explore on their own, encourage children with positive feedback even if poses are not 100 percent accurate, and remember to include a brief warm-up. The importance of the class lies not necessarily in the accuracy of the poses, but in exposure to yoga and providing a positive experience for toddlers.
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