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Yoga for Children – Why Kids Need Yoga

By Dawna Matthews

As an adult, I came to yoga for healing and unity of mind, body and spirit. After I became a mom, I was surrounded with not just my own child but also other mothers and their children. I started to observe children in my environment and realized children are natural yogis in their pure essence — this was amazing to me. Through more observation, what surprised me even more was that, as children grow, they are more stressed than ever before in these ever-changing times.

Why are children stressed? Children experience anxiety and stress with school, extracurricular activities, video games, over stimulation, and being in the world of busy parents. These stresses can lead to problems sleeping, development of behavioral issues, or even suffering more frequent illnesses.

One way kids can reduce their stress is to practice yoga and experience the same benefits adults receive on physical, mental and spiritual levels.

• As physical education programs are shortened or cut while our children spend increasing amounts of time inside and in front of computer screens, yoga acts as a non-competitive activity which is needed as obesity and other illnesses such as diabetes in children arises. Yoga can help fulfill kids’ fundamental impulses to move while enhancing flexibility, strength, and body awareness.
• The mental and emotional aspects of yoga empower children to learn to calm themselves, improve concentration, and work through their feelings as they connect more deeply with their inner self.
• The spiritual facets of yoga give children a connection to nature and an understanding of the divine that is within all beings while nurturing compassion and inner peace.
• For a list of 25 more reasons why children should practice yoga, look here:
• Practicing with Your Child
• As a yoga teacher, I long to move and be in yoga as much as possible. After having my daughter Chloé, I realized most of my practice would be “off the mat.” As Chloé grew, I started to notice that babies naturally engage in yoga, so I began to perform some yoga poses while we were together. Over time, she started to mimic me and I loved the bond we formed as well as the fun we shared. I realized we could inspire and teach each other. We attended a few “mommy and me” classes, but they didnʼt always synch with our schedule and other moms have this same issue. I decided to teach kids yoga and am currently enrolled in a teaching program. This may not be what you prefer, so where do you start?

1. Take a class with them. Yoga for parents and kids is  becoming more available, so check your local studio or gym.

2. Enroll them in a yoga class after school or camp during vacation.

3. Ask for a yoga program at their school. There is an     initiative to bring yoga to kids from all backgrounds. Please visit www.yoga-recess.org for more information.

4. Take the practice home. Be their teacher or try a video. Let go and have fun with your child and just go with the flow. Children are always in the moment and this can be hard for adults. This is an amazing opportunity to learn from one another as you create, grow, and express yourselves. Try imitating animals, trees, and flowers. As their parent/guide, meow like a cat with them in cat stretch, make bird sounds in eagle pose, or bark in downward dog. Itʼs also fun to have them sing songs when you begin or recite their ABCs/123s as they hold a pose. Sound is a wonderful release and creates healing while still being fun. Some great websites for teaching programs as well as videos are as follows:http://yogakids.com/ and http://www.itsybitsyyoga.com/ http://www.gaiamtv.com

However you decide to get them involved in yoga is perfect. Generally speaking, a childʼs body, mind and heart are more receptive than an adult’s. They approach yoga as something fun, not necessarily as something used to de-stress and to get active. Due to the increasing speed of our modern lives, our children need yoga as much as we do. Children who utilize yoga as a tool when they are young can develop strategies as they blossom into adults. As parents, we want to help them reach their pure potential and yoga can help. Childhood should be as stress-free as possible, so get them to a class and say Om!

About Dawna Matthews

Dawna is a yoga teacher, writer, domestic goddess, and lover of life. She tries to celebrate all the joys given to us in this world by dancing, singing, cooking, and gazing up at the sky. Dawna believes green living is a way of coming back to the self- a simple yet deeply satisfying dance of gratitude to mother earth and each one of us. She lives in Colorado where the mountains are a perfect backdrop to each day. She twirls daily.

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