Picture this: You put in a full day at work, dealing with office politics and trying to do your best. When the workday is over, you rush to a group fitness practice. When you finally get home and eat a late dinner, it's time to break out some of the work you brought with you.
Then, it's off to bed only to do it all over again. Does this sound familiar? While it's likely the normal weekday routine of any adult, it's also similar to the schedule followed by busy kids all over the country.
I've been an elementary classroom teacher for over 20 years. In that time I've seen an evolution as to just how busy kids' lives have become. I've seen how stressed kids can be as they deal with peer pressure, family changes and traumas, academic demands, and just trying to handle personal issues of growing up.
But I've also been a children's yoga teacher for three years. And in that time I've witnessed how simple little breaks for yoga can help kids refocus and find a sense of control and calm.
Here are eight reasons why I think you should get your kids (or a kid you know!) to a yoga class:
1. Yoga gets kids moving.
So many kids spend hours in front of a screen; watching shows, playing games and "communicating" with friends. Yoga gives kids a way to stretch, move, and get active!
2. Yoga is for every BODY!
There are countless children and young adults that don't think of themselves as athletic, or feel that they aren't good enough for a sports team. But everyone is "good enough" for yoga because yoga states that you are ENOUGH and perfect "as is". Modifications and variations can help any child achieve a yoga pose with their body; no matter how unique.
3. Yoga is for those athletic kids too.
Yoga can help young athletes cross-train for a variety of sports including basketball, soccer, baseball, football, volleyball -- the list goes on. Many of your kids' favorite professional and college athletes are probably already practicing some yoga.
4. Yoga can help kids feel more grounded.
Children are often being pulled in as many directions (or more!) as adults. When you are busy and over-scheduled, it can feel like you're a leaf blowing aimlessly in the wind. Yoga offers a chance to root down, feel safe and at home.
5. Yoga can help us reconnect with the world.
Yoga is more than the asana, or poses. The practice of yoga calls on us to be present off the mat and engage in life more fully. Engaging in our lives means connecting with people and socializing. Interacting, helping, talking, sharing, and living life "offline" is a skill many kids (and adults) can learn and benefit from.
6. Yoga helps us gain self-acceptance and an improved sense of body image.
Tweens and teens are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images of beauty. The practice of yoga can help kids see the beauty in themselves; their strength and uniqueness.
7. Yoga can reduce stress.
Kids today seem to be under more stress than ever. Sports, standardized testing, academic performance, and friendships can all add pressures to a young yogi's day. Yoga is a direct path to releasing all that stress. Oftentimes the tweens in my weekly classes request some type of restorative pose, and squeal with delight when we get to do Legs Up the Wall (viparita karani).
8. Yoga is FUN!
Who doesn't want to moo like a cow, walk on the walls, create a partner pose, or play in a down dog tunnel? Sometimes kids need some time to just be kids and be encouraged to PLAY.
Yoga is an ancient practice that can help improve the lives of the youngest among us. Chances are there is a children's yoga class in your area, so grab your kids and get them to class! And while you're at it, maybe you can stay for a class too.