Since I make time to #yogaeveryday, that often means including my little boy, it’s actually one of the sweetest ways for us to connect and play together. If your children have been in the habit of interrupting your practice, it might be a fun way to invite them into giving it a try.
Some say that yoga for kids is entirely unnecessary, and that free play is all they need for exercise, or to learn balance and de-stress. Why, some ask, should we include them in an adult activity that is built to be an advanced spiritual or fitness pursuit?
Here’s why: children will mimic what they see their parents doing.
If yoga is dear to you, sharing that part of your life as a basis for play with your kids is only a natural way to expose them to what you value in life. If they take genuine interest in it too and experience benefit, then so much the better.
There’s no rule that you must make a practice for young children, but by allowing them to play with you, experiment with poses, run underneath your backbends, balance on your wheelbarrows, it lets them see that yoga is something that is part of everyday life, just as it should be.
There are several other benefits to those children who engage in their own child appropriate vinyasa, and restful poses.
The first benefit is in breathing.
In this way we can teach them to breathe correctly, from their noses, and not their mouths, but accessing their lung capacity correctly. This is where our anti-stress receptors are. Shallow chest breathing (which is what you get breathing through your mouth) never reaches the lower lobes. Proper breathing can even be curative for certain ailments; it also releases anxiety, tension, exercises the emotions, and promotes relaxation and sound peaceful sleep.
It’s a great way springboard to discuss what’s on their minds, and taking up their thoughts, and how by quieting the mind we can hear our and other’s needs better.
The second benefit is in the cultivation of balance
Some simple poses are really grounding for the whole mind body complex, and helps to maintains good posture, which in turn allows the spine, digestive and nervous systems to function freely and more effectively. Deep gentle stretching promotes strength, flexibility and strength. Practicing for balance improves mind body awareness, and a way to be deeply connected to themselves.
Slowing Down and Being Real
Especially in a culture that is increasingly digitized and lived in a series of two dimensional screens, finding ways to bring children presently into their bodies is a necessity. It teaches basic virtues around perseverance as well: how and when to challenge themselves, how discipline increases dexterity, and how working diligently increases the chance for mastery.
True physical play is the key here. It’s a great way to teach them self care and how to listen, not just to ourselves but to listen with our heart when others are speaking as well.