Well, think back to your own childhood… feeling overloaded with homework assignments, pressure to compete with other children in school and sports, lots of after-school obligations. While it may not compare to the pressures you have today, it can be a substantial burden for a child. But just as you have discovered the benefits of yoga to deal with pressure, children can also benefit from the cleansing practice.
Yoga experts and some child psychologists claim that yoga can help kids cope with any number of stressful situations such as school problems, peer pressure, and self-consciousness, and also teach them self-control and improve their mobility and coordination.
In addition, yoga has also been proven to help children with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders, two conditions that create a constant desire for movement and outside stimulus in children. Learning the discipline of yoga can help children cope with the conditions and teach them how to control their body and emotions.
However, initially getting children to join in a yoga session is a challenging first step. Even for children not suffering from conditions like ADD, their general restlessness may make getting them to sit and meditate a difficult chore.
And just because a parent has an interest in yoga won’t automatically mean that a child will have the same interest automatically.
A number of yoga experts think that the best way to get children interested in yoga is to let them see you participating and enjoying it, rather than forcing it on them.
When children witness their parents enjoying yoga on a daily basis, in addition to seeing the calming effect it can have on their parents, they will be more likely to develop a curiosity in the practice.
Some yoga experts recommend performing yoga in the home to demonstrate to children how it is conducted and some of the movements associated. The natural curiosity of children, experts say, will make them want to try some of the more “fun” positions in the practice. Poses like headstands and certain balancing moves mimic the regular playtime activities that children take part in every day, so seeing them in yoga will spark their interest.
Once children display an interest in the moves and positions, yoga instructors say, you can begin to introduce them to the meditation aspects of the practice. Yoga instructors recommend beginning with breathing exercises that can teach them to relax.
Next, try poses such as the Warrior pose and the Tree pose, two movements that can teach them confidence, calmness and balance. The idea, the experts say, is getting children to go beyond the mere movements and to get them to think about what the poses represent. For instance, ask them if the Warrior pose makes them feel strong and confident.
Does the Tree pose make them feel tall and strong?
The goal, the experts say, is to get them to mentally identify with the poses and the emotions that they create.
By combining the two feelings, experts say, children will learn how to connect their mind and body, which can bring an improvement in many aspects of their life, from school to outdoor activities.
Children who learn to make the connection between the two, the experts state, will learn to develop confidence in their abilities.
Other aspects of yoga and meditation can be introduced at this stage, such as chanting for peace and harmony (tapping into a child’s natural instinct to sing and chant, the experts state) and developing an appreciation and respect for the world around them.
Getting children to listen to the wind in the trees or notices the smells of a meadow become a much more enjoyable experience for them when they learn to develop a confidence and awareness from within.