We’ve all heard about how great yoga is for us and how it will increase our calm, decrease our stress, and improve our bodies, but what about our little ones? Can they benefit from yoga too, despite the fact that they aren’t stressed or out of shape? The answer is a resounding YES!
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In fact, starting a yoga practice in youth can help prevent many of the problems that drive most of us to start a yoga practice as adults. Yoga helps toddlers and kids learn proper posture, develop flexibility and strength to prevent injuries, increase motor control, better mood, and promote helpful life skills such as self-soothing, focus, self-esteem, and self-discipline.
Recently, there have been studies that have found that young children need at least 30 minutes of structured activity every day, and yoga is an excellent way to help your child accomplish this goal while developing discipline to be a healthier person throughout his or her life.
You can begin by incorporating your child into your practice. There are many DVDs and classes available that promote a “mommy/daddy & me” yoga practice. These videos create a yoga practice around your baby, incorporating holding them and paying attention to them while doing your poses.
This is wonderful for the post-partum mother who doesn’t have much of a chance to exercise or stretch and it’s great for your little one because it gives them a different type of attention and stimulation.
There are also books such as “Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Toddlers and Preschoolers” that show you how to encourage your child to try different poses. By learning to do these poses, you may find that your child develops better sleeping habits and it may help clear up digestive system issues!
Once your child is around 18 months of age, you can start working towards doing yoga together. By now, your child has probably become quite good at imitating you and will be able to do more complicated poses by watching you do them first. Some great books to look at for toddler friendly poses include “Itsy Bitsy Yoga” which discusses poses and practices appropriate for children from 18 months to five years. “Little Yoga” and “Sleepy Little Yoga” by Rebecca Whitford are other excellent resources for young yogis. These books are aimed directly at the toddler instead of being an informational source for the parent. For example, they associate the yoga poses with animals for the child to imitate. They are incredibly engaging and something that your child will enjoy to look at and try all on his or her own.
It may be hard to imagine that little ones could enjoy something so peaceful or “adult”, but yoga truly is for everyone, at any age. The above-mentioned resources are a great starting point for you to start a yoga practice with your son or daughter. It’s a wonderful chance for some loving family bonding that promotes good health and inner peace.