little-yogisWitnessing children striking yoga poses is more than just cute; it can be the catalyst to a lifelong practice. Parents and schools are becoming aware that yoga benefits children physically, mentally, and soulfully. The practice is orienting children to a discipline that is rejuvenating for the body and soul.  Yoga is playful and allows children the freedom to explore without judging or competing. It is understandable why yoga is becoming ‘the new soccer’ for kids.

Yoga is a 5,000-year-old practice originating in ancient India. The practice was male dominated in its early inception until eventually integrating women. Over the past thirty years, yoga has become westernized and burst into mainstream US culture in the last decade. As parents come to experience the valuable benefits of the practice, many are enthusiastic to have their children partake.

A 2003 study by California State University, Los Angeles found that yoga improved students’ behavior, physical health and academic performance as well as boosting self-esteem. Yoga programs for children also benefit parents. As a calming practice, it is a positive activity you can enjoy with your child while they learn lifelong coping techniques. Practicing yoga together helps facilitate a unique parent-child bonding.

Children have stressful lives – just like adults. Young peers can be harsh through name calling, bullying and/or teasing. Some may be challenged with autism, ADD, ADHD, behavioral problems or difficulty with motor skills. A stressful home life can also be mentally debilitating for a child. Yoga helps release stress, calming the mind and body, and connecting to a happy, peaceful place within.

When children are ‘scattered’, they are often told to take a nap to regroup and attain more self-awareness, yet yoga is known to have similar effects. The practice also encourages discipline and responsibility in a positive environment. It is a healthy outlet for stress management, and encourages creativity by piquing imagination.

In addition to the mental benefits, children prosper physically from yoga as it helps to maintain flexibility while bodies are growing. Yoga is an excellent complement to traditional sports. Concentration and self-esteem can reach new levels through yoga teachings which include engagement and focus while cultivating peacefulness.

The peer social interaction is also beneficial as it teaches children that we are all similar inside, despite what we look like on the outside. Yoga can inspire children to be patient, kind and respectful of others and self.

The many benefits of yoga will enable your child to flourish now and throughout their life.

Bronwyn Ison is the mother of two daughters and the owner of Evolve Yoga in La Quinta which offers a variety of classes for adults and children. (760) 564-YOGA.

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