yoga teacher certificationBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

We do not often think of the lives of children as being stressful, but many children do face a lot of stress and anxiety throughout their days. Kids’ days are filled with learning, commitments, rules, and restrictions. They may feel like they do not get a whole lot of say in their own lives. The issues they face are obviously much different than adults’ issues, but that does not make them any less important. Kids worry about school, friends, relationships, and uneasiness within the home. Kids’ after-school schedules are often packed with sports, clubs, or organizations. Although the causes of the stress are different, the results are the same for children and adults. Stress takes its toll on the body and mind, causing a wide range of physical ailments.

Step into a room full of kids, and it might seem as if they are thriving on chaos. They are often joyful, loud, energetic, and oblivious to all else. If given the chance, however, children will embrace the idea of calming the mind and body for a moment to “re-fuel” themselves. Centering activities, in Yoga, help kids learn how to deal with feelings of anxiety, stress, or helplessness. Yoga classes teach kids to take a break from all the business of life to just “be” for a few moments. The healthy techniques learned in kids Yoga sessions are valuable tools that children will use throughout the rest of their lives.

Kids Yoga instructors can use breathing activities, Yoga poses, and visualization to help children center themselves. Breathing techniques can be as simple as taking slow, complete breaths by filling up the entire belly and chest cavity. Yoga instructors can teach children how to visualize negative thoughts and energy leaving the body with the exhale, while drawing in new energy and positive thoughts with each inhale.

Most Yoga postures encourage centering as well. Yoga teachers encourage children to concentrate on how their bodies feel in each pose and to note where it feels good or not-so-good. Balancing postures, like Tree Pose (Vrksasana), help children focus because they must try to balance on one leg. Other poses that help children become calm and centered include child’s pose, candle pose, corpse pose, or easy pose. These poses require little physical challenge, so children can focus on being calm and quiet.

Visualization exercises are powerful for kids also. They can help children release stress, anxiety, or pent-up energy. Visualization also teaches children that they are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Visualization gives them a positive way to deal with any negative aspects of life.

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