Yoga for kids: more focus (and fun!) for the little ones
Updated: Jun 19
Childhood is a period filled with experiences that stay in our memory. Who has never remembered a game or activity from childhood and felt nostalgic about it?
The importance of these games goes beyond their being part of our affective memory. Activities that encourage creativity and result in spontaneous discoveries leave a mark in other ways as well, providing countless benefits for kids to reap later in life.
The dynamics created during early childhood can also stimulate behaviors which will be repeated for many years, even after the child has become an adult.
Activities that involve body movements, for example, when practiced frequently, become a habit in children’s lives and are also directly linked to their physical, emotional and psychological development. We have explained here in detail about how games and physical activities during childhood are positive to kids’ health and development.
Some activities, however, demand structure and specific orientations in order to be practiced. During today’s challenging times, those that can be executed at home have become an excellent option. For this reason, today we are going to talk about yoga practices for children.
Yoga is a practice that has existed for more than four thousand years. Those who practice it also follow philosophies that go beyond body movements. Yoga has gained visibility in the media over the last few years and, for that reason, most people already have an idea of its definition.
Proof of that is that yoga is part of the National Policy of Integrative and Complementary Practices (PNPIC), an entity created by the Brazilian National Board of Health, whose main goal is the implementation of alternative treatments based on evidence from the country’s public health network, by means of the Unified Health System (SUS - Sistema Único de Saúde).
Children-oriented yoga has become more popular lately, precisely due to its benefits. The moments of concentration, breathing and stretching that are encouraged during yoga are extremely positive to kids. There are even some schools which have included yoga classes as part of their school programs.
The Brazilian Society of Pediatrics (SBP) has recently released a document in which the Workgroup in Physical Activity from the entity brings several tips and recommendations with respect to the practice of physical activity for children and teenagers.
Amongst their suggestions, the practice of yoga is mentioned. “Yoga, an ancient practice which may be performed by individuals of any age, represents a relevant tool for improving physical health as it encourages the development of flexibility and muscle strength. In addition, Yoga can be especially important for the current moment since it allows physical distancing during the practice and contributes to the stabilization of emotional and mental health, helping to cope with stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms,” informs the document.
The document also reiterates its recommendation for children and teenagers to practice around 60 minutes of a physical activity a day, alternating between the intensity of these activities.
How can yoga be fun and beneficial to my kids?
The postures are inspired by animals and nature elements, characteristics that awaken children’s curiosity. The movements can be done in a playful way, with songs and stories, which makes yoga a quite pleasurable activity.
The little ones are also more flexible and, therefore, performing the exercise sequences can be fun. The developing musculature is strengthened by doing the postures, which has an effect on children’s postural balance.
The practice of yoga done by the kids happens in stages, which go through breathing, concentration, and only then does the introduction of the postures occur, which, in turn, evolve and become more intense over time.
Respecting the limits of the body is also extremely important, since some movements tend to stretch a lot.
The importance of breathing
Breathing is one of the fundamental properties of yoga. For the postures, children will need to breathe through their noses and belly instead of their chests. This technique is beneficial for the breathing system and it also regulates the breath, resulting in tranquility and relaxation.
Due to it being an activity that does not involve competition, yoga can encourage self-esteem and self-confidence in children since the results are seen individually.
Despite such individuality, the role played by the instructor, parent, or another person who is alongside the children during the activity also reinforces cooperation and collaborative learning.
As we have mentioned before, paying attention to the breath is fundamental in yoga. It is necessary to observe this aspect and also to keep the focus when doing the postures. This way, children develop their concentration and find that other spheres of everyday life become easier.
How to practice yoga at home with my kids?
Nowadays, technology has made this process easier. There are videos, apps and websites that introduce yoga in a very simple way. However, despite how easy it is to find these resources, it’s important to have caution. Check the source of these materials, and, mainly, if your children practice them, watch their reactions during the exercises: extreme pain and discomfort are not a good sign.
By respecting the limits of the body and by having patience and willingness to learn, yoga can be a part of children’s routine in a light and positive way!
:: You can also read: Balance with technology: how to find it? ::
Written by Débora Nazário
Translated by Mariana Gruber