Yoga is for everyone. Regardless of our age or stage, yoga meets us where we're at. As I sometimes describe to my students, "Yoga is spirit reminding our body to play."
For children, Yoga can help develop their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. Their concentration can improve along with their ability to relax and feel calm, which helps them to cope with the conflict and stress of an increasingly hectic world.
More than being just great exercise, Yoga is a way of life that encourages kids to play, connect more deeply with their inner self, and develop a receptive relationship to the natural world around them. It encourages self-esteem and body awareness, and fosters cooperation and compassion, instead of competition.
Having taught Mom & Baby Yoga classes, and Kids Yoga with preschool, elementary & high school aged kids, I've seen babies laugh and giggle at their moms crooning to them from downward facing dog. I've kept toddlers attentive with jungle animal yoga poses from an imagination trip to "Where the Wild Things Are". Taken eight-year-olds on "magic carpet rides" to build sand castles on the beach, in guided visualization. Explored the ethics of "Yamas" (healthy, loving attitudes & values) with teenagers learning to apply Yoga's ancient wisdom to modern-day life challenges. Taught awareness in decision-making and choices where an internal compass could be challenged or compromised. I've seen kids experience the rush and joy of the inherent power in their bodies as they tried a handstand or other challenging pose for the first time.
Through Yoga, children can discover how unique, worthy, and complete they are. Interconnectedness is a feeling and an understanding, not just a concept. Self-esteem can come from feeling present and connected to one's "sunshine" and innate power in the body. Intelligence has many forms. Or as one of my Yoga teens put it, "The happiness I feel from doing something I really like is going to bring me success in my life. Practicing something again and again is not only going to make me better at it, but will teach me ways that I can improve."
Taking care of our bodies with Yoga when we are young, and developing healthy habits, will serve us all life long. Applying the lessons we learn from life can be challenging; that's why it's called a Practice. Something that reminds us on a day to day basis that all the "yay" and "yuck" combined make for a fascinating journey of learning and growing.
Want to try some local Kids Yoga classes? The Yoga Fusion in San Ramon has ongoing Yoga for Kids classes on Tuesdays and Fridays for 4-9 year olds. Visit www.theyogafusion.com
Downtown Yoga in Pleasanton has Kids Yoga for 6-11 year olds starting in September 2012 at www.pleasantonyoga.com
Cosmic Dog Yoga in Livermore has Post-Natal Yoga for moms and babies, Kids Classes, and on-site babysitting services for parents to enjoy while they partake in yoga classes. www.cosmicdogyoga.com