Yoga and Self-Regulation
Have you ever wondered if your child would benefit from yoga? Yoga is often associated with adults and slow movements, but it turns out that this ancient practice can be very beneficial for children and adults. Yoga incorporates breath work with motor movements for strengthening and calming the nervous system, and can be adapted for all ages and abilities. The yoga poses and activities can help children identify how their body is feeling to facilitate greater emotional awareness and coping skills.
Today’s world tends to promote a fast-paced, busy lifestyle, but yoga offers a way to balance the chaos. By engaging in your own yoga practice as an adult, you are able to work side-by-side with your child to provide encouragement to do the poses at their own pace and ability without comparing themselves to others. While many studios teach yoga classes that last an hour or longer, there isn’t any one set time limit to reach in order to experiences the benefits of yoga. Yoga and mindfulness activities can be utilized in your own home, and even as little as 5-10 minutes daily can make a difference.
A major theme of children’s yoga programs includes modeling the poses after the animals they were named for. This is a great way to incorporate different types of breathing for a full inhale and exhale that calms the parasympathetic nervous system and relaxes the body. Utilizing pictures and fun themes can make yoga fun for both you and your child. Downward dog can be modified for a child by encouraging them to “wag their tail” while still getting in a good stretch. Cat and cow pose are great for early learners by sounding out “meow” as they breathe in with their spine up, and exhaling a long “moo” as they push their belly button to the ground.
Benefits of yoga for your child can include:
• Increased ability to inhibit behaviors
• Improved confidence
• Increased postural control
• Better control over emotions
• Slowing down emotional reaction time
• Decreased anger
• Improved organization of thoughts
• Reduced stress
Need help getting started? Check out the resources below:
The Adventures of Super Stretch – kids yoga program with an adorable super hero who walks you and your child through yoga poses with child and cartoon animal models.
SmilingMind – a mindfulness app that has different meditations divided into age groups for children to pause and consider their emotions and how to incorporate positive thoughts into their day.