Making friends, excelling academically, competitive sports, social media — there are so many stressors on today’s youth. A lot of pressure is placed on kids at an early age and at times, they don’t necessarily know how to deal with it.
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines stretching exercises and controlled breathing. According to The Mayo Clinic, yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping people relax and manage stress and anxiety. It’s beneficial for any age group, even children.
“Yoga provides amazing benefits in terms of children’s abilities to become quiet and focused while exploring stillness. They develop discipline of mind and thought,” says Diane Banker, owner of Akron’s Lifesource Yoga & Bodyworks.
She adds the importance of scheduling down time and quiet activities for kids. With children being involved in numerous extracurricular activities, sometimes they just need a break.
Yoga also teaches kids to be aware of their body movement. Banker and her staff teach children basic yoga postures and encourage them to ease into the poses slowly while they talk through the movements.
“Our bodies are so used to rushing through life, through movement, that we aren’t aware of how it feels,” she says.
Learning the Moves
Children and teen yoga is offered at various local studios and community centers.
Amy Cook, a yoga instructor and previous owner of Yoga Lounge & Barre in Hudson, says there are multiple organizations within communities offering free yoga in parks, hospitals, schools, etc. There also are numerous resources online for families to learn at home.
“Yoga is a confidence builder, and encourages mindfulness and empowerment,” she adds. “Yoga helps kids look inward and connect with themselves. It’s something they can turn to later in life when they get anxious or need to still their minds.”
Below are some safe yoga poses from kidsyogastories.com to help children begin practicing yoga:
Standing on one foot, reach the opposite leg out behind you. Place the outside of the foot into your hand, bend the torso forward with your arm out in front for balance, and arch your leg up behind you.
Downward Facing Dog
Start out on all fours. Spread fingers and press palms flat onto the floor. Lift the bottom, straighten the legs, and make an upside-down V shape. Send the heels gently to the ground. Relax the head and neck and look down between the legs.
Lie on your stomach, place palms flat next to the shoulders. Pressing into the hands, lift head and shoulders off ground and hiss like a snake.
The Tree Pose
Standing on one foot, bring the other foot to rest on the standing leg, above or below the knee. Think of the standing leg as a tree trunk rooted into the ground and extend the arms above the head like tree branches.