In today’s hectic lifestyle, we have forgotten to slow down and so have our kids. For entertainment they prefer games on iPad or watching videos on the television to outdoor games. The wide variety of ready to eat snacks has also reduced our immunity, not to mention the pollution and stress of everyday life. How do we reconnect with our bodies and with nature? Yoga is the answer.
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How is Yoga Beneficial for Kids?
Yoga is the ancient art of certain “asanas” or therapeutic poses that target different physical ailments or pains by targeting the muscles and nerves in those areas. According to NCBI study in 2014, yoga also improves our breathing, regularizes our body movement and frees it up from cramps or stiffness.
In today’s world, where children are bombarded by stimuli every two seconds, it is difficult to develop a long attention span and peace of mind. Apart from the obvious physical benefits like strengthening of the core, increased flexibility and balance, yoga also improves children’s ability to focus and center their thoughts. If the habit of yoga is inculcated at youth, it can benefit children throughout their lives.
Top 11 Yoga Poses for Kids
The Dog Pose or Adho Mukhasvanasana
This pose is a copy of how a dog’s posture would be while stretching its body. One has to go down on all fours and arch up their back while supporting their weight on their arms and legs. The chest should be tucked inside and the head should be hung low. This posture is great for improving blood circulation in areas of the body which normally does not have much.
The Warrior Pose
In this pose, the child’s legs would be in a lunge position with the arms stretched forward. The back and neck should be straight. This pose is amazing for improving back posture, regularizing breathing and stretching our shoulder muscles. To engage children you can encourage them to shout out their favorite battle or attack phrases while holding this pose.
Vrikshasana or The Tree Pose
Yoga does help one to connect with nature, quite literally! In this posture, the aim is to stand as straight and as still as a mighty tree, which the palms of your hand folded and joined in a “namaskara”. The child has to balance their entire weight on one leg, and then interchange by shifting the entire weight on the other leg. The other leg should be folded and the foot should be placed on the knee. This pose is excellent for developing balance, improving body posture and increasing the power of concentration. It is difficult to get a restless child to hold this pose, but once they are used to it they will love it.
Tadasana or The Mountain Pose
This is one of the simplest asanas and it is perfect for beginners. Ask the child to fold their arms and hold them in the “namaskara” position above their heads. The child has to stand in an erect position. This may be fun if they feel like they are pretending to be a mountain. This also helps in improving balance and concentration in the child.
Uttanasana or The Rag Doll Pose
This is very similar to the dog pose but here the child has to be very particular about not bending their knees while bending over to touch the ground with their hands. They should form an inverted U pose with their body. This asana helps in stretching and engaging the hamstring which is important for agility.
The Happy Baby Pose
Children usually love to do this. They have to lie on their back, raise their arms and legs high upwards and try to make the arms and legs meet in the air. This pose encourages a lot of giggles, but it is also excellent for strengthening the core muscles. Rocking back and forth slowly, on your back, while remaining in this pose massages the spine and calms the mind.
The Butterfly Pose
The name is enough to increase the interest of kids. For this, the child has to sit on the ground and stretch their legs open. Then the legs should be folded at the knees while sitting, to make the soles of the feet touch. The palms of one’s hand should be brought to touch the soles. The legs are now the wings of a butterfly, and should be moved up and down! Kids enjoy this with some nice music.
Pranayama or Breathing Exercises
This is a crucial part of yoga. Relaxed deep breaths, in through one nostril, holding for a few seconds and breathing out from the other is the most common breathing exercise. Pranayama regularizes breathing, connects the mind to the body and increases clarity. With clarity comes better self-awareness and concentration. These exercises also strengthen the respiratory system and make it immune to viral and bacterial infections.
This is similar to a leg raise where the child has to lie down with hands at their side and raise their legs upwards. This forms an L shape and children can be encouraged to imagine it as a waterfall. This strengthens the core and hip muscles.
This is to be done with another child or an adult. Sit down, face each other, extend your legs and extend your palms to hold one another. Each person should pull one to their side alternately, replicating the movements of a see-saw. This is a huge hit with the kids, and it increases flexibility and makes your core muscles stronger.
The Corpse Pose or The Sleeping Pose for Kids
Death is heavy stuff, hence the renaming. This should ideally be the last asana to close off the yoga routine. One has to lie down completely with their back straight and hands at their side. This pose should help the child to feel relaxed and happy.