Yoga is an often misunderstood meditation. It is a holistic exercise that is very important not only for the serenity and peace of the soul but also for physical health. Just as mental health is important for physical health, physical health is also important for the wellbeing of mental health. It has been proven that yoga strengthens the muscles and is good for shortness of breath and heart ailments. It is also an alternative therapeutic aid in mental disorders such as stress, anxiety disorders, and depression. So, can only adults do yoga? Can kids also practice yoga?
Yes, yoga is also a useful activity for kids. Child yoga is a set of movements consisting of individual and paired exercises where classical yoga postures are transformed into appropriate standards for children, combined with fun, discipline, self-confidence, and a sense of responsibility. Child yoga allows children to maintain their imagination, correct breathing, flexibility, and energetic state. Using their imagination improves their learning skills in school and allows them to direct their energies in the right direction.
Child yoga causes the flexibility of kids’ body structures to be preserved. However, it can help strengthen muscles, increase concentration and creativity, and strengthen the immune system. In addition to fun yoga postures, there are breathing exercises, games, and stories in child yoga. The inclusion of games and stories also ensures that the child’s self-confidence increases, positive thinking, and emotions can be expressed more easily. While children are having fun with child yoga, flexibility, strength, relaxation, and concentration are provided. The aim of all these studies is to balance the harmony of body, mind, and soul, as in adult yoga, and help the kid to continue living with this balance.
What Is Child Yoga?
Child yoga has a rhythm in itself, is flexible, tells kids to be aware of their bodies, to respect each other and to respect everything in nature while encouraging them to a more sensitive life; it is an approach that teaches them not to compare themselves with anyone in bodily postures, meditation, breathing exercises, stories, and games. Child yoga is fun and prepares you for a journey of discovery.
Yoga, of course, provides excellent benefits to the development of our children in order to become an individual who knows himself, respects himself, has learned not to compare himself with anyone, respects his environment and everything in nature with unconditional love, and has a developed awareness. The child who has learned the concept of self correctly expresses himself better. Since it is not in a competitive environment, it does not worry or doubt that it will fail.
Child yoga should be performed in different ways according to age groups.
2-4 Age Group
It is the age group that questions such as “What, why, for what?” begin. Fairy tale stories and lots of repetition make them happy.
5-7 Age Group
With their improved language and movement skills, they can play and exercise for a longer period of time. They like creative and unusual ideas. Entry age group to yoga.
8-10 Age Group
The age range in which motor abilities and balance reach maturity. They can concentrate for longer.
11-13 Age Group
They start to be able to think abstractly. They like group activities and team games.
13-15 Age Group
They can easily do advanced yoga exercises and breathing exercises. Even though they have taken their first step in youth, they enjoy lessons that include games more.
Benefits of Child Yoga to the Kids
The stress and fatigue of the children increase during the school year. It is also difficult to communicate with our children who cannot find the opportunity to relax from lessons and courses. Yoga is an activity that both relaxes children and supports their development. Child yoga is practiced by transforming classical yoga postures into suitable standards for children; It is a set of movements consisting of individual and paired exercises combined with fun, discipline, self-confidence, and a sense of responsibility.
Child yoga aims to teach children how to use their imaginations with postures, how to breathe correctly, and how to relax their bodies. Preschoolers have very flexible bodies. But as soon as you start school life, sitting for a long time causes the natural mobility of the spine to deteriorate. This flexibility can be maintained with yoga. Numerous yoga postures can help children with digestion problems, sleep disorders, or joint and muscle problems. Using their imagination improves their learning skills in school and allows them to direct their energies in the right direction.
However, it can help strengthen muscles, increase focus and creativity, and strengthen the immune system. In addition to fun yoga postures, there are breathing exercises, games, and stories in Child Yoga. The inclusion of games and stories also enables the child to increase self-confidence, to think positively, and to express emotions more easily. The aim of all these studies is to balance the harmony of body, mind, and soul, as in adult yoga, and to help the child continue to live with this balance.
Children’s yoga exercises the right and left lobes of the brain simultaneously with the movements it contains. Research results show the different roles and functions of the right and left sides of the brain (lobe). Tasks such as rhythm, imagination, colors, size, volume, and music fall under the specialty of the right brain. It was found that the left lobe of the brain is skilled in speech, mathematical operations, sequences, numbers, and analysis, and works logically and linearly.
One of the most important features is that there is no such thing as a loser and a winner in yoga. In the games played, both children who have talent are equal. Purpose: helps passive children become more active in the classroom and gain self-confidence. Briefly; It enables them to express their personality and creativity in a safe and competitive environment.
To be healthy is to be in full physical, spiritual, mental, and social harmony. Yoga gives what is desired in these four subjects. The imagination of children aged 3-7 is very strong and unlimited. They are willing, flexible, and full of energy. When a child meets yoga, he uses all these features throughout his life. Asanas (yoga exercises) provide full physical health, create a massage effect on all organs in the body, stimulate the endocrine glands, improve coordination skills, and balance hormones. As the body stretches and balances, the tensions dissolve and this naturally reflects on their behavior and quality of life.
Mental Effects of Yoga on the Kids
Its mental effect strengthens learning, positive thinking, imagination, and creativity, increases motivation, strengthens discipline, and focus. It develops a spiritual sense of being more respectful towards each other, accepting oneself and others as they are, solution-oriented in life, self-confidence, and a sense of responsibility towards themselves and others. It offers ways to emancipate.
Trees and animals imitated while making asanas give children the awareness of nature. Children learn their own body through asanas. This improves self-confidence and strengthens his personality. Perspectives on all living things, nature, events, the world, and even the universe change within the yoga thinking system. In his yoga journey, he develops a calm, peaceful, and positive perspective in harmony with the world while experiencing the unity of his mind and body. Yoga learns to embrace a stress-free life by going beyond the concepts of good and evil.
When we say that the future of the whole world is our children, the first question that comes to mind is what kind of education should be given. Mothers and fathers who shape their lives according to them right after the children are born and make their future plans according to them should also consider the education of their children well. It should lead them to discover their interests and talents from childhood. Child education is a detailed subject and it may not be completed by parents’ own efforts alone. Therefore, in some cases, an expert opinion may be required.
Particular attention should be paid to the education of children in the 0-6 age group. Children of this age group wonder and ask everything. Parents can sometimes be inadequate to these questions. In such a case, they need to research and learn the most correct answers and expression styles. Experts on this subject can remove the question marks by answering all questions about child education and child development with expert opinions in every situation where parents are insufficient.
Contribution of Child Yoga to the Development of Kids
If you ask your environment, almost everyone today has an answer to the question “What is yoga”. While the definitions of yoga by those who have not experienced yoga before are more or less similar, the definitions of those who have included yoga as a way of life are completely different from each other. Why do you say? Because yoga is a way of discovering oneself, and everyone’s experiences are different in this way. So the way you discover yourself is actually your definition of yoga. So when it comes to children? Is yoga also a way of discovery for children? Is it to say to our children “Come on now, discover yourself on a nice adventure, and when you discover, I will come and take you here”? Or is it to lay the groundwork for this journey of discovery that enhances their awareness?
Children’s yoga, which has a rhythm in itself, is flexible, tells children to recognize their bodies, respect their relationships with each other and respect everything in nature, encourage them to live a more sensitive life, and teach them not to compare themselves with anyone in bodily postures, meditation, breathing exercises, stories, and games. Therefore, children’s yoga is fun, without realizing it, it prepares you for this journey of discovery. Children’s yoga does not need any substance. Since it is the only branch where children can stay with their own mind and body, it should not be compared with sports, science, and art branches. Now, it is a little more detail time!
Each of our lessons is based on games and stories with a different theme. For example, we imitate the postures of the animals we encounter during our safari while we imagine that we are going on a safari in the forest during a lesson. We know that the reason for the birth of yoga is to imitate the creatures in nature and feel as strong as them! When we are lion, cobra, cat, tree, and mountain, we feel our back, chest, and balance in the most powerful way. In some of our lessons, we first fall on the earth as raindrops, then we form a huge rainbow together and pass under one by one. When doing pair work, we experience harmony and balance.
We begin some of our lessons by saluting the sun for the endless and beautiful energy it gives us. By doing breathing exercises, we feel the power of the breath, relaxing with meditation, and relieving our mind like a balloon. At the end of each lesson, we thank that day, our friends, our mother or father together… Or we thank him for whatever comes to mind. In our lessons with older age groups; For example, from the age of 8-9, chats take the place of games. We talk about yoga philosophy, our energy centers, and anatomy.
We do yoga postures related to our chakras, breathing exercises, and meditation exercises within the scope of these topics. We create a wall of curiosity and write about topics we are curious to talk about at our next meeting. We talk a lot, which allows us to express ourselves even better. We do not allow coercion, competition, and negative thoughts to enter our yoga classes. If anyone of these feelings and thoughts accidentally entered that day, we work on it, write on the post-it, and throw them away at the end of the lesson. Thus, we do not allow these feelings and thoughts to disturb our peace, not only during our lessons but also when we are alone with ourselves.
The Benefits of Yoga at an Early Age
“Yoga, if it is started at an early age and done regularly, provides incredible benefits to the spiritual, physical, and mental development of children.” Here is the chained utility system we want to hear! But let’s take a look at the detailed meaning of this sentence. “Yoga provides excellent benefits to the development of our children in order to become an individual who knows himself, respects himself, knows not to compare himself with anyone, respects his environment and everything in nature with unconditional love, and has a developed awareness.”
The child who has learned the “I” concept correctly will be more comfortable expressing himself. Since it is not in a competitive environment, it does not worry or doubt that it will fail. The physical part of yoga is a detail, its main focus is to be spiritually and socially nourishing. Children from the age of 2 can practice yoga, which is the age when children start to explore the world and their motor skills. I especially recommend this age group to practice yoga with their parents, strengthening the bond between the child-parent and supporting them to have a pleasant time together.
Since the attention and concentration times of children vary depending on age groups, the duration of a lesson can vary between 35 minutes and 60 minutes. In the youngest age (2-3) groups, 25 minutes is considered to be the ideal time. However, each age, each child, and each group should be considered separately, and an absolute right should not be sought for the duration of the lesson. The important thing is to enjoy the time together and to live the moment with high quality and awareness. As for the number of people, lessons can be held with one person or become more enjoyable with the participation of different people in a partner or group.
Any clothing that does not squeeze the body, that is, it will not restrict the movements, thus making our mind comfortable is suitable for yoga. It is beneficial not to choose thick clothes as they may cause extra sweat. Working barefoot on the mat without socks makes us feel better when we are rooted. “What to eat before class?” As for the part, we don’t necessarily have a recipe like a banana or two walnuts. We should do whatever we do without breaking our normal life routine, we should take care of the body, and we should come to classes neither hungry nor full. We must continue the same system after leaving the class. Let’s not forget that the better we take care of our body, the better it will reward us.
Yoga Poses for Concentration in Kids
How about doing yoga with your child at home these days when it is important for us to stay at home? Children’s yoga can be a fun solution to situations such as attention deficit that are common in children. Concentration disorder in children can negatively affect their social life as much as their school success. It is possible to overcome this problem by playing various games and taking advantage of children’s yoga.
Children’s yoga is a type of yoga practice that allows children to connect with their bodies, to have a healthier and more comfortable breathing habit, and to provide body and mind balance by using games. All movements are done gradually, attention is constantly paid to the breath, and in the meantime, yoga turns into a kind of practice where children can use their imaginations by including various games. Yoga poses that can be done with children and are good for concentration disorders are as follows:
Thinking that you are a very strong mountain stand, spread your feet, find a fixed point opposite and look there. If you don’t want to focus somewhere, you can close your eyes. There is a mighty mountain right in front of you and you are a very powerful mountain! While standing like this, breathe through your nose, exhaling loudly, “I am a very strong mountain!” Say the sentence. This pose is very important for balance.
Hello to the sun
This is done in conjunction with the first pose. While standing, bring your feet closer together, shake the hands towards the ground so that the hands and arms are relaxed. Inhale through the nose and raise your hands up towards the sun as you breathe. With the hands and head standing up at the same time, a loud “Hello!” Shout to the sun, move your fingers. As you exhale, let the arms drop slowly from both sides.
The sun rose, the sun went down
This pose is like the continuation of the second pose. While breathing through the nose, raise the hands upwards, while at the same time, raise your head towards the sun. Say “The sun has risen” with the hands and head up at the same time. While exhaling, lean forward from the waist to free your arm, neck, and head. When you bend completely towards the ground, say “The sun has set” and stand that way for a while and shake hands and arms. If pain is felt in the knees, the knees may bend slightly. From here, it is very slowly lifted upward, with the last neck straightened, and back to the mountain pose. 3. After the pose is completed, relax by shaking hands and feet.
To be a lion, we must first stand on all fours. For this, we have to open our hands well between the fingers and press our palms on the ground, and our knees and feet should touch the ground. In our story, the lion will go for a walk through the forest, but before he leaves he must check the forest. Here is what we will do for this; We will slowly move our spine, turn our neck left and right and we will watch around. We move our spine as much as we can because this movement will also strengthen our spine. And while continuing in this way, we stand still in the current position, as if we suddenly saw something in front of it. In this way, while standing still, we take a deep breath through our nose, and while exhaling, we exhale through the mouth by pulling out the tongue and leaning forward to the ground.
For rabbit breathing, first, make ears with your hands on your head; Let our rabbit shake his ears by shaking your fingers. At the same time, move your nose left and right. Make it smells around and make it like a rabbit with a carrot, hands-on head and ears, and take three deep breaths through the nose.
The movements we will do as of this pose will be completely related to our balance. For the egg pose, sit on the ground with knees at chest level and place your hands on your knees. Pull your feet towards you as much as you can. We find our hip bones by moving ourselves left and right. When you do this movement, the places that hurt are your hip bones. Now, hold your hands with your knees, cut your feet off the ground and stand firmly, like an egg, on our hip bones. You are very likely to lose your balance and come back in this movement, do not worry, this is something that happens to everyone. When you are out of balance, easily come back to the same position by pushing yourself with your back. When this pose is over, we open our legs and hands to relax, put them on the ground, and shake them. Because our next pose will be a standing balance pose.
This is also a very fun balance pose. First, stand and close your eyes. We dream of our own tree, what kind of tree are we, is it fruitful? Only with flowers? Now, for the tree pose, first spread your feet very slightly. Then lift one of your feet into the air, starting with any foot you want, and place it on the inside of the other leg. While sitting, we can adjust our height according to our own body balance, that is, it may be slightly above the ankle or at the kneecap level, it all depends on everyone’s own body balance. After finding the alignment where you can balance, open your arms upwards. After doing this, stay in this pose for a while, and if you feel that you are tired or your foot hurts, slowly drop your foot towards the ground. At the same time, slowly put your arms beside the body. Then repeat the same movement with the other foot.
This pose is a great pose to relax after doing all the other 7 poses and playing the clock game. First, we sit, lower our neck slightly forward and close our eyes. Then, when we feel ready, we open our eyes, raise our heads, move slowly on all fours, go backward with our hips on our feet. While doing this, we stand as if our arms are extended forward with our hands touching the ground. We tilt our head forward to the ground. We can touch the ground, but if it is not, we do not force it. We move our arms back to the back and thus turn into a magic stone. And while you’re standing in this pose, you’re asking for something inside you. After making your wish, we get out of this position very slowly, because we will send our wishes to the sky!
First, let’s stretch our arms forward again, stretch a little, and even relax our bodies. Then let’s push our hands back slightly and step on the ground and slowly return to our sitting position, taking power from our hands, and take a deep breath. And it’s time to send our wishes to the sky, we immediately cross-legged and put our hands on our hearts. We bring back the wish we wish in the magic stone pose. When we are ready, we warm our hands by rubbing them together, and we leave our wishes to the sky by raising our arms upward and moving our fingers.
Sit comfortably on the floor, imagine a huge clock in front of you. As your teacher speaks out loud the numbers 12-3-6-9 on the hour, look at the direction of those numbers. Repeat this a few times and do it a little faster each time. The game is getting more and more fun!
If you want your child to do sports, you must first do sports. Get rid of the idea that it is preventing you from walking around while you exercise and share your exercise mat with him. There are several ways to interact with today’s children. Exercise is one of these methods. Fun exercises that have been transformed into a game that you get to his eye level can attract their attention.
When you continue with all seriousness, you may observe that after a while it starts to imitate you. If this is not a method you prefer, there are centers that teach exercise disciplines such as yoga for your child. Maybe you can learn these exercises separately first and write your own story with basic yoga postures. So what are the positive effects of yoga on children?
Staying in a yoga pose for a certain amount of time requires patience. For today’s children who quickly get what they want, it is important that they make an effort, even if they cannot complete the time. The loss of balance while trying to do these poses to develop their balance muscles can actually be a good way to strengthen their balance muscles. Dream, get up, and try again … The self-confidence gained from being able to do is invaluable for us mothers. I succeeded, got up, and tried many times. I know that I may have to try many times to succeed. In fact, isn’t this a feature that even us adults want to regain? We also benefit from the health that comes with exercise.
Research on Child Yoga
The first yoga therapy and research symposium were held on June 18, 2007. According to the data available, children who take yoga training prefer to eat healthy food beyond just adjusting their own emotions, controlling their stress, and calming themselves. Because body awareness is improving. It can help with anorexia and obesity diseases. It develops body awareness and improves self-confidence.
According to a study conducted in Program Evaluation and Research Collaborative Charter College of education, it has been observed that students who take yoga education experience fewer disciplinary problems, and there is a remarkable increase in course success grades. A study at the Department of Health and Physical Education at Southern Oregon University, Oregon, USA is as follows.
A 12-week FIT KID program was implemented. This program emphasizes bone development in children through physical activity elements, cardiovascular fitness, relaxation, muscle strengthening, running, yoga, jumping, and strength exercises. All activities are individualized and non-competitive. A diet program that focuses on nutritional elements includes low amounts of saturated fat, sugar, whole grain, unsaturated fat, and a rich concept of vegetables and fruits.
The 12-week participation showed significant improvement in body integrity, fitness, nutritional knowledge, and eating habits, and a significant reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels was observed in those who participated 75% of the time during these 12 weeks. The experimental findings prove that children can take programs to improve the quality of life and that there can be positive changes in children with excess weight problems and that they can improve diseases based on the lifestyle of adults.
Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation conducted research on improvements in static motor performance while watching yoga training of school children. It was determined that the group of 45 students between the ages of 9 and 13, who received yoga training for 10 days, were more successful and careful than the other normal life control group. They are trained in physical posture, breathing regulation, maintaining silence, visual focus exercises, memory, and attention development games. The other control group continued with their routine life. It has been observed that the errors in the yoga group students gradually decreased.
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