Benefits of Yoga for Kids
This article was written by Jillian Zacchia.
As a child I participated in many physical activities until I found that one that was right for me. It tried swimming, skating, and even baseball before I realized I was a dancer, but now there's a new activity kids are beginning to try: yoga! Yoga has become extremely popular over the past decade or so with adults, but now those adults who love yoga are realizing it's great for their kids as well.
Yoga improves flexibility and strength for those who practice it regularly, so it's no surprise that kids experience these same benefits, but what makes yoga particularly beneficial for young kids is the wide range of mental benefits each child exhibits after practicing yoga regularly.
Although kids may not be able to perform each yoga move the same way adults can, they practice their own (more appropriate) version of yoga. Young children practice some of the common, yet simple movements that we adults practice, but they also practice different positions with animals' names, like lion, camel, alligator, cobra, cat and cow etc, and they have fun making the sounds each animal makes. Kids enjoy themselves while also improving their focus, and respect for others. If their yoga instructor keeps things simple and fun the children will stay focused and listen.
The kids who practice yoga will get more comfortable not only with themselves and the movements, but with the other students and their instructor. In all physical activities children form strong bonds between the other children and teachers in their group. With yoga, kids can connect with other kids and even gain an appreciation for other cultures. The more open they are with others the more fun they'll have. If kids can all stretch together and make animal sounds without laughing at themselves or one another then they've gained a lot of self control and respect.
Once your child, or the child practicing yoga, is comfortable in the classroom, they exhibit signs of increased self esteem and confidence. Yoga feels good and it's fun, so if a child stays attentive and actively participates in class there's no reason they shouldn't feel great about themselves.
Because yoga is a relatively relaxed activity in comparison to other physical activities, kids become more relaxed and calm. This shines through in everything they do, and it helps them especially when they start school. Even though the child will be calm and respectful at school, they will still be creative and cooperative.
Because of the bonds the children develop in class, they'll have a stronger sense of compassion and 'people skills' which will not only help them at school but they'll be more gentle and loving at home too.
Yoga for kids, if taught effectively, can be so beneficial for kids because it relies on 'Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Theory' which divides human intelligence into these categories: interpersonal, naturalistic, interpersonal, musical, visual, linguistic, kinesthetic, and logical. If children stimulate each one of these areas of intelligence at a young age they will be able to reach their full potential when they get older. When kids practice yoga they strengthen all Gardner's intelligence categories, making it one of the best activities a young child can do.
The list of benefits goes on, and although the effects of yoga are unique to each child it's safe to say that practicing yoga will have a positive outcome on all children who practice it by establishing a good foundation of mental benefits for them to grow up with.
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