Like most adults, children are exposed to stressful situations as much as the ordinary person is. There is no better way for us to teach our children how to cope with stress than to introduce them to the wonders of Yoga.
The practice of Yoga does not only give them an opportunity to release the tremendous amount of energy that they have, but it also provides them a fun way to spend their time instead of just being hooked all day on their gadgets or glued endlessly in front of the boob tube.
Here are some ways to make Yoga fun for young children and hopefully get them hooked enough to carry them all through adulthood.
1. Bring their wild imagination into play.
Nothing beats a child’s imagination. Every wild thing one has ever imagined must have been imagined when they were children. Take full advantage of this when you wish to keep your child interested in the practice of Yoga.
Make up a Story
Children love stories. It’s how their imagination come into play. Popular Yoga poses such as the Downward Facing Dog can be made up to be a story about a mountain or a volcano. The Tree pose could be a story about a mighty tree standing tall on one foot.
Role Playing in Yoga
Role playing using Yoga poses is a sure-fire way to keep the children interested while having fun. Have them act out different animals using any of the Yoga poses. Several Yoga poses are actually named after animals because of some similarity in form.
Have the children do their own poses while guiding them towards a specific or basic Yoga pose. You might be surprised by how much some of their poses might mimic popular Yoga poses.
Although there are 12 basic Yoga poses, it is said that the total number of actual Yoga poses can get to more than a thousand and even more than that. Kids are intrinsically creative. You might even learn a thing or two from them.
2. Have themed classes
It would be fun for children coming to Yoga class dressed as a fairy or a magician. It all plays into the children’s fantasies. Yoga classes can hold a child’s attention much longer when classes are kept interesting and mind stimulating by activities that tickle their fancy.
Having themed classes that help children focus on Yoga elements such as breathing, balance, flexibility and strength while in an imaginary set-up will pique their interest and keep them focused and entertained as well.
Music can and should be a part of every children’s Yoga class. Choose music that goes with the selected theme class. This will motivate them to do their poses more enthusiastically.
3. Give them lots of opportunities to release their boundless energies.
Make use of the children’s endless amounts of energy by engaging them in Yoga games through poses that keep them active. It is difficult to keep a child to sit quietly or hold a pose for too long a time. They are very fast. Keep the poses coming so they could end up happily resting in the corpse pose as they practice imagery and relaxation.
4. Explain that there are rules they must follow.
Young children especially those between the ages of 3 to 8 constantly test boundaries. Create clear boundaries and make sure your rules are let known and followed. Rules such as listening to the instructor, no violence, no put downs and respect for each other should be made clear early on.
It is quite difficult to gather the children’s attention so make sure you have it when you let your rules known. When rules are clear and understood, the chances of them acting up later on could be reduced.
5. Distract them from their distractions.
Most children have very short attention spans. They can get easily distracted by elements and events around them that keep them from focusing on what they need to focus on.
Keep movements in their Yoga classes fast and slow. Keep voices high and low. Alternate between high energy and low energy poses. Introduce different activities while performing Yoga poses to keep their attention in check.
There are many benefits to children starting early on their Yoga programs. As in adults, Yoga enhances their flexibility and strength. It improves their balance and coordination and increases their body awareness.
Apart from these, Yoga increases their concentration and allows them to focus. When needed, they can tune into their inner calmness in moments of stress which comes naturally with constant practice. Most importantly, they will also learn the value of relaxation after hours of physical, mental and emotional activities. It would be even greater and more fun if parents join their children in Yoga class.