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Published on August 12, 2016

Yoga for Kids?

August 12, 2016

Little Boy Reaching for His ToesA relaxing and challenging form of exercise, yoga may benefit children as well as adults.

Juggling athletics, schoolwork and social activities, kids and teenagers encounter stress on a daily basis. When not addressed, this stress can take a toll on emotional, mental and physical well-being, causing everything from anxiety to insomnia to poor concentration.

Yoga, an ancient form of exercise focusing on linking breath with movement, may help children maintain a sense of calm when dealing with hectic schedules and high-pressure situations. Additionally, regular practice may help improve balance, flexibility and strength while also reducing a child’s risk of obesity. Plus, yoga may help boost listening skills and self-esteem—and it’s fun!

Finding the Right Fit

Many different types of yoga may benefit your child. The key is choosing one that works well with his or her abilities and needs. Ashtanga, an active and flowing sequence of poses, may be right if your child is working to increase stamina, while restorative yoga might be best if your young yogi needs to focus on relaxation and concentration skills.

A form of yoga called Iyengar is great for beginners, utilizing props such as blankets and blocks to make challenging poses more accessible to young bodies. Vinyasa flow is a terrific challenge for kids who are interested in consistent movement.

Talk with your pediatrician and find out if your local healthcare facilities or fitness centers offer yoga classes for kids. If not, look for instructional videos online and develop a sequence with your child in the comfort of your living room. Work together to develop breath control, concentration, goal setting and positive thinking. 

KishHealth System Physical Therapy Center offers Yoga for Kids classes at the Sycamore location. Learn more!

Perfect Poses for Kids

A few basic postures set the foundation for a lifelong yoga practice that will help your child stay fit throughout life.

  • Bridge—Lie on your back and bend your knees so that feet are flat on the floor and hip-width apart. Lift buttocks off of the floor by pushing down with the feet and engaging abdominal muscles and buttocks. Gradually lift the base of the spine off the floor, as well. In the full expression of the pose, the body will look like the letter C. Steadily breathe in and out through the nose as you hold the position for about 10 breaths. Slowly lower the body back down to the ground.

  • Cobra—Lie on your stomach and place hands on either side of the ribcage. As you exhale, push down through the arms as you raise the chest, keeping the gaze down and slightly forward. Engage the back muscles as you breathe in and out through the nose, pushing down through the tops of the feet and engaging the abdominal muscles. Repeat a few times, increasing repetition as you build strength.

  • Forward fold—Stand with feet hip-width apart, rooting down through the heels and behind the middle toes. Engage the abdominal muscles and fill the area around the ribcage with breath. Lift the arms overhead and then fold forward, bending at the hips. Fold the arms and let gravity relax your body toward the ground. Keep breath easy and steady as you hold this restorative position.

Sources: ananda.org; arlingtoncenter.org; kidshealth.org; kidshealth.org; uaex.edu; ufl.edu;yogacalm.org; yogacalm.org; yogajournal.com; yogajournal.com; yogajournal.com

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