It’s no secret that practicing yoga can have profound and life-changing benefits. People all over the world are revisiting this ancient practice and discovering how it can drastically improve both physical and mental health. Yoga teaches mindfulness, self-awareness, compassion, patience, and confidence. It can improve our health and even reverse certain physical ailments.
This is all obviously beneficial to adults, but what about children? Many of us came to yoga to relieve some type of suffering. As we discover the concepts like mindfulness and surrender, and as we begin to feel better physically, we sometimes wish we could have known these things years ago. It’s never too late, but what better time to introduce the benefits of yoga than when a child is learning about themselves for the very first time?
At Inspiring Actions, we offer Kid’s Yoga at both our Hudson and River Falls studios. The 3-week series is for kids 4 – 8, and will introduce meditation, breathing techniques, and deep relaxation through games, music, movement, and play. For a full description of the series and to sign up your little one, visit our events page here! Read on to learn five benefits of introducing your child to the practice and lifestyle of yoga.
Kid’s Yoga Benefit #1 – Mindfulness
Of all the things I wish I had known earlier, mindfulness would be number one. The importance of staying in the present moment and observing a situation from a peaceful, neutral perspective cannot be overemphasized. The world we live in today is face-paced, and we are constantly bombarded by stimuli that take our mind elsewhere, depriving us of true enjoyment of life.
If you’ve ever watched a child interact with the world around them, you have seen that they have no problem staying in the present moment; it’s really all they know. As they grow up, they are pulled in multiple different directions and the zest for discovering and enjoying life begins to take a backseat to responsibilities and expectations. Cultivating mindfulness early in life provides the child with a tool they can use for the rest of their lives.
Kid’s Yoga Benefit #2 – Self-awareness
Yoga teaches us to pay attention to ourselves on both a physical and emotional level, and to greet our habits and mistakes with curiosity rather than shame and self-doubt.
One of the amazing things we can teach our children through yoga is the art of paying attention to ourselves and managing our emotions. Through yoga, we can teach children to notice their sensations, and try to connect these sensations to feelings and emotions they are having.
When self-awareness is lacking, people have a tendency to look outward for the source of their suffering. By teaching children to look at themselves first, we can show them that while we may not be able to control situations around us, we can control the way we respond to them. This helps children stay away from the blame game and understand that they alone hold the key to their happiness.
Kid’s Yoga Benefit #3 – Compassion
Compassion and empathy are difficult things to teach; they are more like states of being that are developed internally. Yoga helps us develop compassion by reducing our personal suffering and freeing up space in our mind to consider the suffering of others. Growing children are self-absorbed by nature; they are learning about themselves and the world around them and are only beginning to develop awareness of others. By introducing compassion early on, we can pave the way for our children to be considerate of others.
Practicing yoga at any age will no doubt result in feelings of empathy toward our fellow human beings, but by the time we’re adults, we’ve had countless life experiences, some of which negatively affected our perception of others. As a child, we’ve had less time to develop biases and stereotypes that can alter our perceptions of the suffering of others. With practice, compassion can become a core belief that’s integrated into the rest of the child’s development.
Kid’s Yoga Benefit #4 – Patience
I have a four-year-old, and patience is definitely not one of his strengths right now. I understand that this is normal (read more about chakra development here!), but I do try to teach him patience as much as I can.
I try not to get anxious when we’re stuck in traffic, and to teach him the art of waiting. Yoga allows us to take a step back from our daily life, and this is especially beneficial to a young mind that is going a mile a minute with new information.
It might not be realistic for a child to have an understanding of spiritual patience, but yoga can begin to introduce the concept that there is more to life and this world than what we see with our physical eyes.
It can help clear our minds of clutter so we can see things on a more clear, big-picture level. This can help with the urgency kids sometimes feel to move forward with things they want to do, even if they might not be ready for them yet.
Kid’s Yoga Benefit #5 – Confidence
Our self-confidence develops as a child. We have the power to change it later in life if we feel it is lacking but initially, it develops when we are growing up.
Children are discovering their sense of Self and personality, comparing what they find with others. This is where negative self-talk and rumination can start, causing children to doubt themselves rather than own their personal power.
Much later in life than I would have liked, I learned that lack of self-confidence was the main cause of my suffering. It caused problems for me in areas of life I didn’t even know it could. Developing confidence in myself changed my entire perception of life, and yoga is the tool I used (and still do!) to learn how to think about myself differently. Children who practice yoga can enjoy the benefit of loving themselves early on, and they can carry that underlying sense of worthiness with them for the rest of their lives.
If you’d like to give your child the gift of learning mindfulness, self-awareness, compassion, patience, and confidence, we invite you to join us at Inspiring Actions for Kid’s Yoga at our studios in Hudson and River Falls, Wisconsin. Visit our events page for more details and dates!
Click here for a fun kid’s yoga video to try at home!