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April 27, 2015
These days, yoga isn't just for stressed adults and the debilitated. Turns out, it's also a wonderful way to inspire the little ones to follow a health regimen.
Children nowadays have to deal with a lot of stress. The pressure to excel in school and competition with their peers are just some of the factors that add up to why more and more children are embracing yoga along with their parents.
Yoga is not just a physical exercise. It helps to calm the mind and the senses, which is perfect when you're dealing with children, who are curious, rambunctious and hyperactive by nature. It helps them develop their self-esteem, body awareness, flexibility and self-control, and even carry these traits out of yoga class and into their daily lives.
Children who are hyperactive and suffer from attention-deficit disorder have been known to improve with yoga. These children cannot keep still for long periods of time, and desire constant stimulation. Yoga helps to channel these urges positively and teaches them how to control themselves.
The best way to get your children interested in doing yoga is not by force, but by doing it yourself and allowing your children to see for themselves how much fun you're having as you practice. Their natural curiosity will have them wanting to mimic a lot of the special and "fun" poses that are similar to everyday playtime.
Once your children are interested in the poses, you can then begin to teach them the meditative aspect of yoga. Yoga is made more appealing and interesting to children when they are compelled to use their imagination. It also helps the children relax and feel at ease while they practice the breathing exercises and the asanas (poses). Expert yoga teachers prescribe poses such as the tree pose and warrior pose to help children develop skills such as their confidence, sense of balance and calmness. These poses are taught to kids not just as poses; the children are inspired by the teachers to 'go beyond' the poses and how the children feel as they do them. For instance, do they feel strong as the warrior, or tall and stately as the tree?
Kids can start practicing yoga as early as age five. Fifteen to twenty minutes of yoga practice is enough for them to get started. As they grow older, you can increase the amount of time devoted to yoga practice. With meditation, breathing exercises as well as some fun animal poses and the corpse pose, your children will soon be able to establish a connection between the mind, body and spirit.
April 27, 2015
Benefits of Yoga for Kids
By Jasmine Kaloudis
Yoga has many benefits to kids on physical, social and emotional levels. Yoga for adults tends to be a very solitary activity even if it is done in a classroom with other students it is very internally focused. In a kids yoga class, they tend to be very focused on the group and many of the activities require paying attention to the interactions and dynamics of the group such as singing, dancing, discussion, games, partner and group poses. The class is much more externally focused for a portion of a time.
Many of the activities encourage cooperation and teamwork such as when they are doing a partner pose where one person is balancing on the other. There are usually ice-breakers as well in the beginning of class where kids introduce themselves and get to know the other kids such as throwing a ball to another child and then they say their name. These warm-ups are more essential since kids will have a higher amount of anxiety around people they don't know.
On a physical level, the poses help to tone and stretch muscles. They also help with balance as well and help to develop motor and sensory skills. The more vigorous poses help to build endurance. Since children have so much energy, the poses are a great way to channel their energy into activities that will nourish the body and the mind.
On an emotional level, the poses help to develop concentration, empathy, focus, confidence, self-esteem, respect for others, improved attitude, more positive outlook. This will often help them achieve better results with their schoolwork and have better relations with their family members, friends and classmates. It equips them with skills to be able to manage their stress more effectively. It can help with many behavioral issues as well since they learn how to manage their emotions more effectively.
On a spiritual level, they help to develop compassion, awareness and a sense of purpose as well.
What are some ways to teach breath awareness, meditation, visualization, yogic concepts to kids?
One fun way to teach the importance of oxygen is to light a candle and then put it inside a glass. When the candle goes out, you can initiate a discussion of why it went out and then use this example of how we need oxygen for our bodies to light us up and give us energy. This is a great activity to do when the kids are rambunctious and you want to focus them and settle them down. Some great breathing exercises are bumble bee breath. You have the child close their eyes and plug their ears and then make a Hmmmmmmmm sound. After you ask them what their experience was like. This helps them to inwardly focus. You can also have them block their ears and eyes and have them do this with an ocean breath sound as well. Have them imagine the waves coming in from the ocean up to the shore. It is very focusing, grounding and helps them to concentrate. You could also have them hiss like a snake while on their bellies. They should repeat about 3-5 times very slowly and then check in and see how they feel afterwards.
A nice group-breath activity would be to have all of them join their hands in a circle and then they come in with a breath together and raise their hands and then exhale and back out of the circle with their arms coming down. This helps to build community and cooperation and can be a centering exercise.
A nice way to incorporate breath work with confidence building activities is to have them inhale in a positive affirmation such as, " I am strong" and then they can exhale out a different affirmation such as, " I am beautiful".
An effective way to teach yoga lifestyle concepts to kids is by having a discussion first about topics such as non-violence but to use kid-friendly language by using a simpler word such as, "peace". You then talk about examples of peace such as when your brother or sister is being mean to you, you can send them thoughts of peace instead of just thinking negative thoughts. Let the child experience what happens when they do this. Ask for examples of other ways they can show peace. When you are in a pose later in class that is quite meditative you can remind them that this is practicing peace as well since you are feeling calm when you are doing it.
A fun way to teach visualization and meditation to kids is with, "Imagination Vacations". You can lead them through some very simple guided imagery (the younger the child, the simpler the imagery should be) such as a being in outer space, in the ocean, on the beach, playing in a garden. After this you can tie it together by having them draw a picture of what they saw. They can focus on their picture whenever they want a special place to return to.
What are some tie-ins for kids?
A tie-in is a way to bring yogic concepts from class into their every day life at home or in the classroom, which helps kids to internalize the lessons. There are stories and books that you can use as a basis for discussion at the end of class. One example would be the candle in the glass that extinguishes which I discussed above. Another good one is by using three yoga blocks to represent the breath, mind and body. You can pile the blocks on top of each other and show how they are all connected. Have one of the kids remove a block and show how they seem to fall apart when they are not working together or connected.
Another example is having the kids draw with crayons after they had their visualization. For older kids and pre-teens you could have them journal things such as, "What do I like about myself?" or "Write Yourself a Thank You Note."
What are specific activities or behaviors in a yoga class that can build self-esteem?
Using affirmations when in a pose is a great way to build self-esteem. When you are in a very strengthening and challenging pose such as Warrior, you could have everyone yell, " I am strong (or proud)".
You could also have songs that have positive affirmations as well, such as the I Grow With Yoga song that has verses such as, I grow strong like a mountain or I see the universe in you... the beauty in your heart shines through.
For the visualizations, you could have them imagine goals they are achieving such as being able to focus better in school so they can get better grades, improved behaviors such as getting along better with their siblings or parents. Use simple kid-friendly language so that it is memorable and has lots of colorful imagery in there.
You can have them create art projects that affirm positive things such as a Gratitude Tree or Me Tree (things they like about themselves). You could either have one big tree and everyone hangs something on it or kids could draw their own tree which they could then take home.
For free images of partner yoga poses with tips on how to do them, email firstname.lastname@example.org with "Request Partner Yoga Poses and Tips" in headline.
Throughout her 15 year yoga practice and teachings, Jasmine Kaloudis has experienced how yoga is a tool which allows us to experience our selves more fully and more richly.
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April 27, 2015
Teaching little ones anything could be a tough job. However, the challenge increases when you're trying to teach them physically challenging activities like yoga. Yes, it can be a little difficult to get the young ones to do different yoga poses accurately. However, with the following suggestions at aid you ought to manage to pull through.
Don't be too challenging with them. Have fun and let them have fun. Furthermore, it's the sure shot trick to teach young bloods anything and everything with interest. As children get bored pretty readily, it is important to keep them engrossed in the activity. So, let them have fun. Tell them stories, crack jokes with them and make silly faces. Simply let yourself loose. If you will love an activity, they will certainly have fun with the same.
To make your yoga class interesting for the children, you can also pick up a theme. Any thing relating to the children would do. For example, you could decide opposites, things that fly, several shapes etc. This concept will certainly work as the children will have their minds engrossed in the activity. These themes would also add a context to the poses that are otherwise bizarre.
Story telling works in case of children. You could narrate a fascinating tale to make yoga appear beneficial and engaging. You can tell stories about imaginative creatures and things such as the aircrafts. Or you could also create a story by telling how a fictional character chose to do yoga to stay fit. Stories make the kids think and you see them more involved. You'll see not just the physical but the emotional and mental involvement as well.
You can also introduce music in your class while teaching yoga to the young ones. Young ones are often fond of music and thus will respond well to it. A few soothing or calming tunes will be best when you're teaching meditation postures. If the yoga postures are dynamic then you can select a cheerful music. There are many music CDs available in the market specifically for the children.
Try to add a thrilling element to each yoga pose so that the kids may have fun with it more. For example, you could consider barking when you're doing the backward dog pose or make a hissing sound while doing the snake pose. The thought is to make the pose as interesting as possible.
Partner poses are also a great way to augment the level of interest. You can build up several partner poses and ensure that you do at least one in every yoga class. They help develop coordination, understanding and social skills that are essential for child development.
Yoga is advantageous for children and it helps in weight loss. It also improves concentration as well as boosts health levels. So, put in little efforts to make your young ones learn yoga in a fun way.
April 27, 2015
It's fun when teaching kids poses. They love to do postures that involve stretching like animals. There are poses such as the frog, lion and cat stretch. Kids enjoy these movements and often laugh while doing them. Breathing is also something they enjoy to do. Kids are not always good at keeping their eyes closed. They like to cheat and open their eyes. Expect that if you are teaching, but encourage the kids to close their eyes and to just go inside. It also helps stress because there is then no way to compare yourself to others.
A lot of children are under stress today due to homework, pressure of competition, scheduling sports practices, endless school activities and many more such reasons. Therefore, parents as well as their children are turning to yoga for relaxation. When you teach yoga to children, it increases the awareness of the body. It also helps develop flexibility, self-control and coordination. This is something that can be applied both in school and in difficult situations.
Yoga has also benefits to reduce hyperactivity and poor concentration in kids. These children desire for movement and sense motivation. Yoga assists in channeling these impulses in a constructive way. Postures that are very helpful are the tree pose and warrior pose. It inspires confidence, calmness and balance.
At the end of yoga classes, generally time is spent lying on one's back and listening to relaxing music. Kids are very visual and often can imagine themselves walking on the beach or being in a spot in nature they love. Make use of their imagination to visualize a place that gives them inner peace. Also using imagery about taking all the burdens off their shoulders works well.
Don't forget that kids like to sing. Incorporate some English or sanskrit mantras into the class. Also have a few partner or small group moments in the class where kids can interact. Doing this can encourage teamwork and cooperation. As children have a lot of energy, stretching poses are an incredible way to channel it into activities which will nourish their mind and body.
Additional benefits include improving focus, concentration, confidence and self-esteem. This will enable them to have better focus periods during homework time as well as when taking exams. This ancient practice helps them to manage stress efficiently, and manage behavioral issues as well. Enroll your kids in yoga and if you are a teaching, remember to throw in animal poses and visualizations to make it fun.
April 27, 2015
No grownups can ever compete with the active nature of children. This hyperactivity is attributed to the highly processed food that they are consuming. Other factors are activities depicted in television and comic magazines. They copy or 'act out' the movements of the super heroes. In the electronic home games, it can be seen that the tendency is to move towards more violence, and this is quite alarming as this kind of scene may become the acceptable norm for our kids to live by.
But parents need not worry. There are now yoga programs designed for our little kids that can harness the over abundant energy that are flowing from them. It has been observed that kids as young as 4 years old will have no difficulty following a 30 to 45 minutes of yoga session. The yoga postures develop their motor skills and stimulate their creativity; as they move from one posture to the other that are usually named after animals.
Here are some simple postures for them:
1. SUN SALUTATION - this is a posture and counter posture of flowing movements and will be fun for the kids.
2. WARRIOR POSE- this posture enhances the muscles in the legs and arms, promoting stability.
3. EAGLE POSE - the eagle pose enhances their balance, as children tends to be a bit wobbly, because their muscular system is still developing.
4. TRIANGLE POSE - good for the spine; preventing scoliosis especially for girls who usually grow faster at a certain age. This posture aligns the spine as the surrounding muscles are stretch equally.
5.. COBRA POSE- this pose increases the flexibility of the spine and also a good cure for 'bed-wetting'.
6. RABBIT POSE - this posture stretches the back muscles.
7. LOCUST POSE -this pose is very good for the back and the spine and helps in preventing 'bed-wetting'.
8. LION POSE - Release tension and irritability. Kids usually have a good laugh doing this posture!
9. PRANAYAMA - Simple breathing that calms the kids.
Yoga for kids must be fun and should be under the careful guidance of grownups. The teacher must be creative in his/her approach so as not to bore the kids. Some postures must be avoided though, especially those that will have considerable effect on the various glands. Since these kids are still on the developmental stage, they should be allowed to go through the phase of adolescence in its natural course when they reach that stage.
April 27, 2015
One of the best reasons for children to take yoga is self-empowerment and this is a primary benefit. The ancient practice of yoga is gaining popularity all around the world for its beneficial outcomes. The techniques of yoga are highly advantageous for people belonging to all age groups. In particular it is an ideal physical activity for children other than school, as most of the parents are opting yoga for their child’s mental, behavioral and physical development.
Basics of yoga teachings lay emphasis on developing harmony between mind, body and spirit. It supports in improving confidence, coordination, body balance and strength in children. The exercises educate children to deal more effectively with emotions and help them to get better knowledge of their inner self.
Several studies and investigations have proved that regular practice of yoga helps kids to develop body coordination and stability. It also plays a vital role in boosting up mental focus and concentrating power, improves their listening skills, productivity and creativity levels along with the sense of calmness. Yoga helps in channeling energy by reducing the aggressive behavior. Scientifically it is stated that yoga session has a great impact on children mental perspective, from calming heart rate to activating the parasympathetic nervous system, enhancing blood circulation, immunity system, digestive system and also plays a great role in maintaining glandular balance.
By practicing breathing and relaxation techniques children learn how to cope up with difficulties calmly, gain ability to deal with different stressful situations of daily life and how to manage their emotions competently. Through controlled paranayama breathing children gain knowledge of how serenely respond to any crucial situation rather than acting spontaneously. At this time and age kids face so much pressure from their early age for achieving high grades, being good at sports and performing well academically. Therefore it is important that we should teach methods of acquiring self awareness and sense of relaxation helpful for them to survive in this busy and demanding world.
For empowering children with strong mental, physical and spiritual attributes Kid’s yoga classes are especially designed according to their needs which include music, games, stories, visual or guided mediation and several other techniques. It is recommended that children should taught specific conscious breathing techniques for keeping their mind calm, positively energized, empowered and self regulated. Conscious breathing techniques for kids are learned and performed easily in daily routine; some of these breathing patterns are as below,
Flower breath: This conscious breathing exercise is performed by inhaling via nose and exhaling through mouth. Imagine that you are inhaling smell of a beautiful flower.
Hissing breath: Start by taking in deep, long breath through nose and exhale slowly by mouth with hissing sound. This technique helps children, how to slow down their selves mentally and physically.
Bear breath: The exercise is practiced by taking short pause up to 3 or 4 counts after inhaling and exhaling through nose. This technique will be helpful in settling down their hyper active emotions or behaviors.
Bunny breath: This type of breathing pattern involves taking of 3 quick sniffs through nose and breathe out in a long single exhale through nose.
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