Q1. At what age should kids start yoga?
In India, children traditionally have their thread ceremony (upanayanam) — their initiation into religious practices — at age 8. At this age, children are introduced to sun salutations, nadi shodhana pranayama and the gayatri mantra. This age represents the end of childhood. Even modern scientists recognize that this is a crucial milestone for physiological and psychological development of children transitioning into adult life. Some of the evidence that supports this is:
- The number of air sacs in the lungs stabilize at age 8. After age 8, they only grow in size and not in number. This is considered to be the ideal time to introduce pranayama into a child’s daily routine. This will help the cardiovascular and respiratory systems maintain high levels of resistance and endurance.
- The health of the immune system is established by age 8. The sun salutations and nadi shodhana pranayama ensure continual development of the immune responses throughout life.
- The pineal gland is responsible for the maintenance of the child’s expanded state of awareness. Children who practice yoga in their 8th year experience a delay in puberty, thereby staying a child for a little while longer. This delay will help the child be ready to cope with the physiological, psychological and emotional onslaught of puberty. Children who hit puberty a little later are also found to be more intuitive, sensitive and and intelligent adults than those who hit puberty quickly.
- Psychologists believe that kids’ ability to understand concepts and ideas which form the basis of ongoing technical and moral education begins at age 8. Before this, fantasy and play are dominant in the child’s life.
- Spiritual development begins at this age. This is a great time to initiate children into karma yoga – where they begin to help with small household tasks, earn some responsibility, learn morals and are held accountable. This will help them develop their own special journey.
Q2. How Effectively Can Kids Do Yoga at Home?
Kid’s yoga can be effectively practised on a daily basis at home either with the help of an instructor or under parental guidance. As the yoga postures for kids are not in any way strenuous and require special equipment it can be done almost anywhere and everywhere. When the parents join with kids doing yoga it develops an emotional connection and quality family time between them.
Q3. Guidelines for Yoga(children)
Kids yoga has a few do’s and don’ts and they are: Kids should avoid extreme bending and forward and backwards while doing all the yoga exercises for kids. Kids should not practice headstand without proper supervision during child posture yoga. Kids should be demonstrated with the postures instead of just an explanation for better understanding and properly doing all the yoga steps for kids. Kids are not allowed to perform asanas for long durations and hold breath during yoga activities for kids. Kids should not exceed twenty minutes of any basic yoga for kids.
Q4. What are yoga Exercises for children?
Kids yoga exercises are a type of modern yoga consisting of simple exercises that may incorporate animal sounds and interesting names for the postures. Kids yoga are referred to as asanas in Sanskrit and the most common and easy yoga asanas for kids are: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge pose) Vrksasana (Tree Pose) Bhujangasana (Cobra pose) Marjaryasana (Cat pose) Dhanurasana (Bow pose) Mandukasana (Frog pose) Sukhasana (Easy Pose) Baddha Konasana (Butterfly pose) Savasana (Corpse Pose) Utkatasana (Chair pose) Virasana (Hero Pose) Naukasana (Boat Pose) Tadasana (Mountain pose) Ananda Balasana (Happy baby pose) Simhasana (Lion Pose)
Q5. What is mindfulness and why should my child try it?
Mindfulness is being aware of one’s thoughts and thought processes. By paying attention to your own thought process, you can understand why something makes you feel a certain way. This practice is great to start early in life, especially in adolescence since many emotions can be new and overwhelming. Mindfulness is good in times of sadness, anger, stress or even happiness. Mindfulness can also help your child to consider how do their actions affect others.
Q5. What is meditation and why should my child try it?
Meditation is the practice of controlled breathing and clearing the mind. It can be done sitting, laying down or through yoga. Our breath is our life source and reconnecting with that can be extremely beneficial for our soul. The act of clearing the clutter in our mind is a way to control stress. We live in a world today that runs a million miles a second. It is very easy to get swept up in the chaos and we forget to slow down and enjoy the little moments of life.
Q6. I see my child practicing breathing different ways, how does special breathing help my child?
Breath can flow in many ways through the body. Special breathing techniques are beneficial because they teach children to channel their breath to work for them in situations of stress or relaxation. Breath can be moved, slowed down, quickened or deepened depending on what you are trying to achieve. A common example is quick short breaths during childbirth to allow a rush of oxygen and energy to the mother and child.
Q7. Is yoga a religion or religious practice? Does yoga interfere with my family’s religious beliefs?
Another important frequently asked question. Yoga is not a religion. Yoga in schools is about practicing controlled breathing to create a sense of focus and calmness and stretching. I make it a point to use kid-friendly terminology when leading my students through practice. For inclusive purposes, we do not use religious words to describe group activities. My child has certain learning and/or physical needs can he/she do yoga?
Another great thing about yoga is that it has many modifications for poses and props (yoga block, straps, folded blanket/towel, etc.) that act as support for any physical demands. As far as learning needs are concerned, everyone learns differently and at their own pace. Yoga is not a competition, it is a self-practice so as long as you give it your all, progress can be made.