Today, children experience more stress and stimulation than ever before. These outside pressures can lead to depression and anxiety disorders both early on and later in life.
A recent study revealed that 3.1 million US children between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced at least one major episode of depression in the past year. In fact, 2 to 3 percent of children ages 6 to 12 have serious depression. And young adults are the most stressed out age group in the US.
Beginning yoga at an early age provides young minds and bodies with tools they can use to live balanced, calm lives. It helps children and adolescents develop a strong sense of who they are and shows them how to release stress and find inner peace.
When a child learns simple yoga techniques they’re more prepared to handle the pressures of life that can lead to depression and anxiety disorders. The effects of yoga go beyond increased flexibility: the benefits are both physical and mental.
Physically, yoga helps a child improve coordination, build strength, and increase flexibility. Mentally, yoga has a powerful effect on a child’s brain development and improves concentration. It also increases confidence, self-esteem, and resilience. The breathing techniques taught in yoga promote self-regulation useful in stressful situations.
Clearly, yoga is useful for all children. It benefits a child in athletics and education as well. And it provides tools they can use in social situations the rest of their lives.
As a parent, you may ask, “How soon should I begin to practice yoga with my child?” Next Generation Yoga, the first kids’ yoga studio, has classes for children starting at two-years-old. Just like you and me, children of all ages will benefit from yoga. But practicing yoga looks different for a child than it does for an adult.
When discussing age-appropriate yoga practice, it’s recommended you introduce your children to yoga by sharing your own practice and starting with simple fundamentals.
If you want your child to keep practicing yoga, it should be fun. Include songs and avoid being too rigid. As Marsha Wenig explains, you should see yourself as a facilitator rather than a teacher. Step back and allow them to “bark in the Dog Pose, hiss in the cobra, and meow in cat stretch. They can also recite the ABCs or 123s as they are holding poses. Sound is a great release for children and adds an auditory dimension to the physical experience of yoga.”
The goal is to lay a foundation for a lifelong practice that will continue to deepen. According to Jodi Komitor, a leading authority on yoga for kids, yoga benefits your child in at least ten different ways.
Yoga provides both physical and mental benefits to children. Help your child avoid the negative impact of constant stress and stimulation by practicing yoga with him or her today.
If you want a great way to introduce your child to yoga, be sure to check out our youth yoga mats recommended for children under 12 years-old.