Yoga , to Reduce your Children Stress

Yoga , to Reduce your Children Stress

Along with being the oldest form of physical fitness in the world, yoga is also the most amenable to practitioners of all ages. Even though some other forms of exercise may be inappropriate for young children (e.g., weight lifting), yoga definitely is ideal for youth of all ages.


Yoga, meaning 'yoke' in Sanskrit, is a family of ancient spiritual practices originating in India. It is one of the six schools of Hindu Philosophy, in which it is often paired with Samkhya, and they are referred together as the Samkhya-Yoga school.Yoga has been called a science or technology of liberation. This is because, unlike purely theoretical philosophies, yoga seeks to provide the student with a practical path (or indeed many possible paths) towards the common goal of liberation. As explained above, Yoga is a diverse tradition, which makes it quite difficult to provide a concise summary of the philosophy. One approach is to consider common elements that are found in all (or nearly all) branches of the tradition.


Here are some practical experiences of a yoga instructor:

Children today are under a lot of stress. Homework, pressure to compete with other children, endless after-school activities, over-scheduling -- it all adds up. And just like their parents, kids today are turning to Yoga to help them relax.
Teaching Yoga to children, I've seen how Yoga helps them develop better body awareness, self-control, flexibility and coordination. I've also seen how they can carry these skills beyond class and into their daily routines. For example, one of my students, Liza, a 10 year old, asked me what to do when she gets frustrated, like when her computer doesn't work properly. First, I asked her what she thought would help.

"Sometimes I do the child's pose when I've had a bad day" she said. I told her that was an excellent idea. We then talked about breathing exercises, such as the three-part breath, that could help her stay centered and calm in difficult situations throughout the day.
Yoga has also been shown to help the hyperactive and attention-deficit child. These children crave movement and sensory/motor stimulus. Yoga helps channel these impulses in a positive way. Yoga poses that seem to work especially well are the warrior pose and tree pose. They help instill calm, confidence and balance. The trick is to get beyond just "doing" the posture. I try to get them to think about what the postures mean, to become like the postures -- strong and confident like a warrior.

I use partner poses to develop trust. Working with each other on poses, the children develop team skills. It also fosters bonding.
When it comes to relaxation, some children have a difficult time closing their eyes while others can't get enough. I once had a 10-year-old boy ask me if we could have an extra long relaxation session as he wanted more time to relax. One technique that encourages relaxation is visualization. At first I may have them focus on belly breathing and listening to relaxing music. Then I may ask them to imagine that they are at the beach, playing their favorite sport, or doing some other activity that they like. At the end of the relaxation exercise, I encourage the children to share their own experiences.

Another approach is to create a guided visualization or story with a calming theme of some kind. For example, I may ask them to imagine themselves walking in a green pasture. "Notice the beautiful trees and the butterflies flying over head," I may say. "Smell the fresh air. Listen to the bluejays calling for their mates." The idea is to instill a sense of peace and feeling of oneness with nature.

In class, I also try to encourage input from the children. Most importantly, their ideas and questions are easily addressed to allow learning to take place
It is my wish that more and more Yoga teachers will choose to offer Yoga classes to young children. It is our dharma to teach children the meaning of union of mind, body and spirit. There is such a wealth of knowledge we can offer our children with the practice of Yoga. The simple chanting of OM makes their faces light up and smile.

Yoga for parents and infants may creat a physical and spiritual bond.We don't normally think of infants as needing exercise. Certainly, just the act of growing and developing taxes their young energy reserves. But a celebration of the body's ability to move from the youngest age, even if it is unconscious, sets the stage for the baby to enjoy a lifetime of fitness. It creates an inherent love of moving their body and an appreciation for it.

Just the act of seeing a parent engaging in regular exercise from earliest consciousness creates a powerful role model in the infant's mind. Studies have shown that children with parents who exercise regularly are less likely to be overweight, more likely to participate in sports and positive activities, and less likely to abuse alcohol or other body-harming drugs (duh!).

Watch how your infant moves easily and instinctively. See how it is nothing for them to put their toes in their mouth, for instance? We are all born with an innate flexibility, but we lose that ability if we don't continue to stretch those ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Yet retaining this precious elasticity can help us prevent injury our whole lives!

Even when your infant is very young, take their tiny hand and move them. Fuss and smile when they stretch and adopt "funny" poses on their own. Move their little arms gently up and down. Play with their tiny feet and watch them smile as their legs move all around. Just your touch provides an invaluable bonding with your child. And though you are building a bond of love through your touch and your smile, you are also helping their little limbs develop. Just as a physical therapist helps develop a recovering patient's limbs' strength, so are you helping your babies' muscles grow through your movement of them. Such play will no doubt delight your baby, but will also set them on the path to lifelong fitness

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