Kids today are faced with an incredible amount of stress from a very early onset. From the time they can walk, it seems pressure is applied for parents to get them started in sports and enrolled in the best preschool. By the time they are actually in school full time, children themselves are already feeling stressed out and the need to be the best at everything they do. This only grows as they get older and feel the pressure to be the best reader, the best student, the most popular kid, the best soccer or lacrosse player. We forget they are just kids. One of the best things we can do for them is help them get their day started right.
Too often we are rushing here and rushing there and have little or no time to talk with our children about what their dreams were the night before or what’s coming up that day at school. Mornings should be a peaceful time to take a deep breath, greet the day with a positive attitude, and practice a routine that gets them ready to conquer the day. After a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast, one of the best we can do for our kids in the morning is get them involved in a simple yoga practice. It is pretty commonly known that yoga builds muscle, improves posture, reduces stress, enhances mood, and increases focus in adults. These benefits are even more meaningful for children when taught correctly and practiced regularly. Yoga has been shown to help children mentally, physically, behaviorally, and socially. It teaches skills that support them at home, in the classroom, on the playing field, and in their relationships. In turn, these are skills they will be able to carry into their adult lives.
One of the primary aspects of yoga is teaching mindfulness. This influences children by cultivating a peaceful mindset, enhancing concentration and focus, teaching tools for stress management, reducing anxiety, and encouraging kindness. What better way to set the tone for their day? For example, yoga teaches children to utilize deep breathing, to clear their minds of negative thoughts, and to have patience with their poses, which carries over into teaching patience and acceptance in other aspects of life. Although these things won’t happen in one day, they will happen over time with regular practice. Your child can learn skills to help them cope with their everyday challenges and keep any stress they feel in check with a positive attitude.
Further, yoga has been shown to increase self-esteem and body awareness as young children learn what their bodies are capable of doing. By maintaining and increasing flexibility and strength as they grow, they become more confident and self-assured while also learning self-discipline. Posture and muscular development improves, as well as their overall physical and mental health.
The benefits of yoga for children are plentiful and simple to implement. In a few short minutes at home with you, they can start with the simplest poses such as child’s pose, cobra, mountain, tree, and downward dog. These are easy for children to master and are packed with benefits. As your child becomes more involved and their skills increase, you can add more poses and create your own routines together. Ultimately, they will be able to continue with an independent yoga practice they can carry into adulthood and use to practice a positive, gainful, and thoughtful lifestyle.
Hilary Smith is a freelance journalist based out of Chicago. Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary attended St. Stephen's Episcopal School and Northwestern University's school of journalism. Upon graduation, she turned her love of technology into a freelance writing career. After becoming a mother, she began focusing on writing about family and parenting in the digital age.