“Breathe in, breathe out, now relax your muscles and close your eyes…,” this is a typical visualisation of yoga class, perhaps while holding a pose or as you lie on the floor.
Yoga is used as a de-stressing tool, a form of self-care therapy, or to get good at meditation for people and kids. But there are many more benefits of yoga for both children and adults. From improved concentration for the mind to better circulation in the body, the benefits of yoga go far beyond these self-soothing therapies. Yoga is both a science and an art form that brings together the body and mind.
With songs and stories for kids, instructors can bring a new element of excitement to the practice and the experience of yoga for your kids. Engaging in narrative or music can make yoga more exciting and change the way children engage with it. Yoga is a more light and easy primer to intensive exercises.
Here are some examples of how to engage your children using different kinds of stories. This is a fun and easy way to make yoga for kids more stimulating.
For some of your kids, it is easy to visualize a blank space or to be still in their minds. For others, they may need something to focus on to signal their brain to relax instead of wander. Storytelling is a way to relax the mind and the body. Stories that describe a forest, a dream, the feeling of climbing up a hill or running down one can deepen the experience of relaxation for your children. By focusing on these details, they can still their mind and body.
Stories of Adventure
Whether it is a Warrior Pose (Veerabadhrasana) where you stretch your arms or a Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) where you stretch the back, all of the poses have a strong characteristic. It could be the feeling of strength like a tree, of being powerful like a ray of bright light or fierce like a lion while breathing. Each element is a way to animate them and brings the practice to life for kids. Incorporating a sense of adventure activates both their imaginations and physical bodies.
Some concepts can be too deep or philosophical for kids yoga as they lie on their mats. Concepts like a ‘throat chakra’ or ‘prana’ have a deeper significance for long-time yoga practitioners. But to kids, these are just jargons and complex words associated with yoga asanas. Through stories, a sense of wonder can be created and these concepts can come to life in their imagination. Magic is a fun and captivating concept easily understood by kids. It is an example of unexpected joy and surprise. It is a good type of uncertainty that can make kids hopeful.
Stories with morals… and chants
Yoga poses to relax and breathing require training your brain, taming your breath, and to have a sense of balance in each pose. The goal of yoga asanas is not to see how flexible a person can be or how long they can lie on a mat, rather the goal is to engage the body and mind until they are in alignment with the breath. Satisfying endings in a story, having hidden meanings in a parable, or stories with morals can serve as guides for your children. They can take these values they learn off the mat and into the real world. These chants can serve as a fun and easy tool for the mind and signal relaxation for the body in a real life situation. An alternative to chants could be affirmations. Here are some examples: “I am strong,” I am capable” or “I am brave” are easy examples for kids.
This is not a complete guide but it’s a start to getting your kids to have fun and engage with the body while doing yoga asanas. Yoga doesn’t have to be restricted to lying flat on the floor or holding yoga poses for long periods of time. It can be made enchanting through various kinds of storytelling in a novel way for your kids.