Growing up is hard enough, but life is a hurry-up, get-moving, waiting-game these days. Throw in school work, athletic competition, peer pressure, busy parents, and you will find children that are missing out on their own inherent joy due to the pace of life. Yoga helps little ones dealing with a hurry-up world learn to master their self, rather than have an adult control them.
Yoga is not only great for countering these pressures, but it's also a tool children can use for the rest of their life. When introduced at an early age, self-esteem and body awareness can become a positive force when learned using a non-competitive physical activity. Instead of learning to compete against one another, children discover empathy and teamwork, not opposition.
Asanas, or yoga positions, are natural for children to create as they are used to incorporating movement with thought. Children are in tune and in control of their body and mind. Self-awareness like this isn't found for most of us until well into adulthood.
The savvy-est way to introduce them to yoga is to have them pretend they are the very animals/objects the poses are named after. Imagine being a giant oak tree, with your feet having roots growing out of them and digging deep into the ground. What if you were a snake and had just a spine? Make believe you don't have arms and legs as you go about your daily routine.
Pretending to be animals in the course of play is childhood joy. Stretch like a dog, balancing on one leg like a flamingo, breathing like a bunny are fun ways that children learn to practice. Using their imagination, they are able to incorporate the movements, while making a connection between their bodies and the environment.
One of the greatest things about yoga is that can be done anywhere. If stuck inside on a rainy day, yoga is a great way to get the entire family moving, as well as relieving some of the stress of being cooped up. When traveling, the breathing techniques are very beneficial for nervous flyers or when it's a little while to the next stopping place. The calming techniques can save your road travel plans.
And with any luck, yoga can become a practice your children will use as they move through childhood, their teen years and finally into adulthood.
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