To open our children’s mind is to open our hearts to them...
Is there anything more rewarding then seeing little ones around us having fun and enjoying themselves? As we practice yoga we open our hearts, learn patience and practice how to work with our emotions. To allow our children, our little ones to become a part of this is something so very special.
Yoga means union, a Sanskrit work that means to yoke together, to connect or to unite. It is usually understood as uniting us to a higher consciousness or yoking together the body, the spirit and the mind. While yoga can be a spiritual practice, it doesn’t have to be. The beauty of yoga practice is that you get from it what you seek. So people can have a yoga practice purely for the physical benefits, as a means of stress relief, or as a way to connect with higher consciousness. Yoga will can allow a deep sense of union and awareness of ourselves and our emotions. Children can also benefit from these different aspects of a yoga practice.
Toddlers and children play sports and practice different movement activities every day. These are often body centric forms of exercise. Yoga can add another dimension to their physical practice. A children's yoga class can include physical postures but also mindfulness, breathing, music and stories. This holistic approach can help children connect with their inner world and spark their imagination and curiosity.
I often see frustration and stress in children that leads to unconscious disruptive behaviour. Their minds are so busy with the chaos of everyday life and in the busy world as they rush from activity to activity, and the pressures that we may be unaware of. But if each day we spent a little time practicing mindfulness with our children and teaching them how to recognise the physical effects of different emotions in their body, be it a good feeling or negative one, we would see much more grounded and calm children . Let's allow our children to really feel their emotions, let them sit with emotions as they arise. This can help children learn to manage stress, deal with difficult emotions such as anxiety and learn empathy and compassion. This can become a practice that is just a part of their everyday life but also benefit them as they move into adulthood.
Here and now I say this not only as a yoga instructor, but also as a childcare educator, nothing makes my heart feel warmer and more open than seeing a child’s happiness. Happiness for children comes from within and from the little things in the life.
Moving our children bodies and guiding them through a mindful yet fun yoga practice allows our children to practice yoga and learn the contentment that comes from tuning in. Creating mindful and fun movements allows our children to come together in a fun and active way, whilst still considering emotions and feelings, inviting pure calmness and desirable peace into their lives.
As children encounter emotional and physical challenges in their daily life, a dedicated yoga practice allows them to learn everyday skills such as deep and calming breathing. These breathing techniques can then be taken and practiced anywhere when they feel stressed or if they are having a moment of frustration.
We can introduce yoga into our children's lives very simply by listening to sleep meditations with meditation apps or reading books that include a meditation practice. They may like to go to a family yoga class with us, or participate in kids yoga classes which are especially created to suit children's needs. So much of what children learn is through watching us, by observing our own home yoga practice, by watching us set up a haven for our practice with yoga props, by watching us carve out time out of our busy schedule to sit and meditate or watching us use our breath to calm ourselves down when necessary. This role modelling can help them to recognise the benefits of yoga even they are are unwilling to participate as sometimes teenagers are. The benefits of yoga for children may also inspire our own practice.
Invite yoga into your children’s life to boost self-esteem, confidence, assist in focus and concentration and to strengthen the mind and body connection.
This blog by Shandell Paterson, a children's yoga instructor yoga, pilates instructor, holistic health advisor and childcare educator. You can connect @iamshandell.