Importance of starting yoga young

Balance is not something you find one day, it’s something you create over time. It’s not an end goal to achieve, it takes time and practise to create because it can look different for everyone.  Physical exercise, a balanced diet and getting eight hours of sleep are considered staples of a healthy lifestyle. It’s a lesson that has been drilled into us by teachers, peers and relatives constantly. But what happens when we aren’t able to do all three? 

We feel unbalanced. It’s easier to take care of ourselves when we feel rested and approach decision making from a calm state of mind. At a young age children can be excitable, rambunctious and full of energy. Feeling balanced and calm may not come easily to them. As parents, we can help children create that stability through yoga. Through breathing and by learning to focus on their body’s flexibility and strength, children can bring themselves into a state of rest. There are many benefits to being in this relaxed state of attentiveness.

Create self-awareness and cultivate a type of intelligence 

By practicing yoga regularly, children can build a relationship with their body and mind. According to American development psychologist Howard Gardner, there is a type of intelligence that comes from awareness of the self and the ability to understand one’s emotions and motivations– and yoga is one way to strengthen these skills. When children show up on the mat, they are taking time out from their day to slow down and listen to their bodies. Through various breathing techniques and asanas, children learn to focus on specific aspects of their physique, recognize their physical strengths and weaknesses and learn to actively work on them. 

Learn news ways to cope with distress

Children have a hard time handling distress because often they aren’t able to identify the source of their frustration. Sometimes this plays out as temper tantrums or extreme moodiness. During these outbursts, skills developed in yoga can provide tools like breathing, meditating, and focusing can help them cope with these emotions. Spending time learning about their body through asanas and various breathing techniques, can be a way to self-soothe. By building a relationship with their inner-self, children can communicate their needs and respond to emotional ups and downs with clarity. 

Improves concentration and memory

On a more literal level, learning yoga is learning to focus on a task at hand and improve on the ability to concentrate. It teaches children to pay attention and use their body and mind together to achieve something – whether that’s stability, a deep stretch, or hold an upside-down position. By recalling the steps to create an asana children improve their memory and cognitive functions. Outside of the yoga class, this translates to longer attention spans and staying calm when things become challenging. 

Teach your child independence

Since it is a very personal experience, what children gain from yoga is only there to keep and understand. The lessons we learn in a yoga class– which could be a breathing technique, achieving a level of calmness, or learning something about the way their body functions– are private wins.  When children learn tangible ways to relax their body, find inner fulfillment and regulate their emotions, they can tackle things like fights with friends, disappointment from grades, frustration between siblings with a lot more ease. They can brush it off like water off their backs with much more grace and calm. 

In order to create this balance, over time we can teach children to put together a little toolkit. Yoga can be a key part of this tool kit because in the long run it will help them find their way back to knowing themselves better and be more rested  and calm.alm. 

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