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April 14th through the 20th is the Week of the Young Child so it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce yoga! Sharing yoga postures and techniques at an early age is a great gift to give our children, as yoga encourages compassion, cooperation and self-esteem. Children experience many of the same benefits as adults who practice yoga; it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. Yoga also encourages children to self regulate by providing them with tools,such as breathing practices that help them learn to calm their bodies, clear their minds and concentrate.
Since many of the yoga postures embody the characteristics of familiar animals and objects, kids enjoy “acting” the postures out, adding vocalizations like barking in down dog or roaring in lions pose or adding movement such as flapping “wings” (knees) in butterfly pose or letting the wind blow the branches and leaves (fingers and arms) in tree pose.”
Some postures to practice:
A child’s experience with yoga should be about exploring and learning in a fun, safe and playful way that supports the development of creativity and confidence. The practice of yoga honors the innate intelligence that lies within every child. When practicing with or teaching to children it is important to take into consideration the how the needs of children, differ from a those of adults. With toddler and preschool age children, yoga is more of a “nontraditional” sort of experience. In order for the practice to be developmentally appropriate for this age group, it should be fun, engaging and interactive, encouraging children to use their imagination. Since many of the yoga postures embody the characteristics of familiar animals and objects, kids enjoy “acting” the postures out, adding vocalizations like barking in down dog or roaring in lions pose or adding movement such as flapping “wings” (knees) in butterfly pose or letting the wind blow the branches and leaves (fingers and arms) in tree pose. Yoga sessions can include songs and stories that help to support language and vocabulary development. You can also count the breathes or the amount of time the postures are held, which encourages number sequencing skills.
Yoga also teaches children about their bodies offering the opportunity to introduce the names of different body parts, bones and muscles and to experience how they move. This helps to teach children about mindful movement, muscle control and body awareness.
Yoga teaches children balance, both physically, such as learning to balance on one leg at a time or to evenly stretch both their right and left sides, as well as mentally by giving children the opportunity to practice being strong and soft and to move fluidly and be still.”
The practice of yoga supports the development of the whole child, a concept that is supported by the The National Association of the Education for Young Children (NAEYC) and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Yoga brings the marvelous inner light that all children have to the surface and lays the foundation for a lifelong practice, teaching children the importance of taking care of themselves so they can be happy and healthy. Have Fun! Namaste.
More on Kids Yoga:
The Benefits of Sharing Pranayama with Children
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. In addition to her certifications in Raja and Yin Yoga, Ashley is mini yogi’s© (kids yoga) certified, has a degree in Early Childhood Education, has worked directly with children as a Preschool Teacher and she has had the joy of teaching yoga to “children” from 18 months to 90 years old! Find her on Google+