Children’s yoga classes have grown immensely – with new yoga lovers born daily. Many parents turn their children to yoga as a way to help them relax, and counter stress from piles of homework, competition activities, and packed schedules. Yoga postures along with specific breathing techniques are designed to stimulate specific areas of the body and the brain resulting in a release of tension.
The result for many is a powerful feeling of relaxation, inner strength and the ability to quiet one’s mind in order to be fully present in the movement. Children practice sitting still and engaging in the quiet art of controlling their bodies. This results in most children emerging calmly from their classes. Yoga is especially helpful for calming overstimulated kids.
Aside from decreasing stress, yoga is also helpful in building strong muscles and increasing flexibility. There are several styles of yoga including hatha yoga which focuses on merging energy from the left (ha) side of the body with the right (tha) side of the body in the centre of the spine. Iyangar yoga focuses on moving one’s body into alignment. Much attention is given to aligning the postures correctly and props such as straps, blocks, and pillows are often used.
In Kripalu yoga, the style focuses on an introspective and meditative form of hathe yoga focusing on slow-moving postures, breathing, opening body energy, and stress reduction. Kundalini yoga focuses on strong breathing and dynamic exercise. Viniyoga is a relaxing and restorative yoga form, which focuses on flow and breathing techniques to enhance the therapeutic effects of each posture.
The final form, ashtanga or power yoga is a very high-energy and dynamic form, which requires strength to keep up. Classes involve a constant flow of nonstop, connected movements along with breathing and locks. However, power yoga is not suited for children under any circumstances. Yoga is beneficial to children since it is a non-competitive activity they can engage in to help wind down.
Yoga has been shown to benefit both hyperactive and attention-deficit children by helping to instil calmness, relaxation, and body awareness. Children as young as 4 and 5 can start taking yoga and enjoying the benefits. For children’s classes, you want a less strict and less intense feel than adult classes offer. Classes generally last around 45 minutes, and many places offer Mommy and me classes that are perfect for toddlers.
Classes should end with some form of guided meditation to help your child learn how to wind down. You want to look for a certified instructor who has experience working with children and has a deep passion for yoga. Look for a studio that is comfortable so muscles stay loose. Classes cost approximately $5-$15 per class, with the equipment costing approximately $20. This also increases yoga’s attractiveness.