Yoga courses for kids
Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India around 400 AD. Given it has been practiced over many centuries there are many different interpretations and styles, but the commonalities are the use of physical techniques involving breathing and postures to join together the body and mind.
Yoga is a type of mindfulness practice, although mindfulness can be understood as a broader aproach to mind-body awareness that may also include meditiation. Both yoga and mindfulness are focused on quietening the mind and cultivating a deeper connection to the self by teaching connection to the breath, bodily sensations and reality as it is in the moment.
When practiced by children, yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve
- physical health including strength, better posture, endurance and aerobic capacity
- cognitive health in terms of concentration, memory, self-esteem and academic performance
- psychological health in terms of stress, anxiety and depression
- symptoms of attention deficity hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism in children such as inattentivess, impulsivity and hyperactivity
There are so many types of yoga it can overwhelming to know which is appropriate for children – vinyasa, hatha, iyengar, kundalini, ashtnga, bikram, yin to name a few. The most common type for children includes ashtanga and iyengar which are actually derived from hatha. A yoga class would normally involve poses or asanas based on animals and plants such as the snake, tree and dog asanas. After the child is in pose, they may be guided through an age-appropriate visualization such as imaging what it is like to be a tree.
Children can start learning yoga around the age of 4 years provided they are capable of understanding and following instructions, and sitting still. However it is recommended to use professional instruction as there are some body postures that may not be suitable for such young chlidren (for example the lotus pose may be detrimental to young bones before the age of 12 years).