Downward dog? Warrior poses? Kids could careless about yoga, but the thing is, they should. Yoga provides not only a physical transformation but also mental stimulation and spiritual growth. Parents are a child’s first teacher and many have begun to educate their children about some of the many benefits that yoga practice can offer.
Jessica Kennett is a certified Vinyasa yoga instructor and a student at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. For Kennett, starting a regular yoga practice as a child is crucial.
“Children are going through emotion, social, and physical changes all the time, and need something to ground them and help them stay focused and balanced. Yoga is known for the mind to body connection, imagine a child having that connection,” says Kennett.
Kennett also makes the connection between yoga and academic performance in school in that a clear mind always them to get better grades in school.
“Yoga balances the mind to body connection, what more do parents want, other than to have their children have inner strength, compassion, mindfulness, love, and happiness,” says Kennett.
Living in the age of technology children are dominated by anything digital and electronic based. According to Statistics Canada, children spend an average of 20 hours per week playing video games.
The new wave of physically interactive video games has begun to incorporate the ancient practice of yoga in a modern kid friendly manner. The Nintendo Wii is a hot selling gaming console that sold over 25 million units in 2009 alone.
The Wii Fit Plus allows parents and children to learn and practice yoga right in their living room.
The game comes complete with the Wii Fit Balance Board that allows you to stand on it to ensure correct posture, form and balance through each pose. The on screen instructor guides children through each pose and unlocks more complex ones as they progress. The ability for individual customization and hands free “gaming” makes learning yoga a fun experience.
“It’s so easy for todays children to get lost on their phones, video games, and computers, they have completely lost touch with their bodies. Yoga will help them gain that connection and balance back, making a very calm, mindful, happy child,” says Kennett.
Many yoga studios in Toronto have either started to incorporate yoga classes tailored for children or have open exclusive children based yoga studios across the city. Yogabuds located at Bathurst Street and Eglington Avenue West was the first studio in Toronto to offer classes for kid and families making yoga a family bonding experience.
Yoga is therapeutic; practicing gives you the tools to create harmony and balance within yourself by viewing the body and mind as one.
Yoga originated in India and has managed to spread throughout the rest of the world still staying true to its ancient roots. Jasveet Singh was born and raised in India. Yoga has always been a significant part of his life and finds that the greatest benefit of yoga is the instant gratification and lasting transformation that happens within oneself when the mind, body and spirit unite.
“I believe that the practice of yoga is experiential; that teachers transmit the seed of knowledge but the true understanding comes through independent practice and mindfulness that can be practiced anywhere; whether you are in India or in Canada. I believe yoga is solely a personal practice that caters to the diverse aspects of this ancient consciousness-raising tradition wherever you are located,” says Singh.
Yoga is also slowly starting to make its way into the classroom. Many schools are now incorporating yoga into the physical education programs in order to help improve flexibility, balance, strength and posture. The benefits go further than just physical, it also helps to prepare the students mentally for the day ahead.
Michelle Bartlett is a stay at home mother of two who has recently begun practicing yoga at home with kids. Bartlett says it was her daughter who introduced her to the art after she had tried it in school during a workshop.
“For her it was like a light bulb had gone off and she was hooked on it and wanted us to try it. I knew about yoga but always thought I wasn’t flexible enough to be bending like that, until I actually got onto the computer and researched. I think more schools should be teaching the kids this and getting them involved in a new movement of health and wellness,” says Bartlett.
In the quest for raising health, happy children parents are encouraged to look beyond traditional means of exercise and fitness. Yoga is beneficial for children of any age and can be carried on throughout their entire life into adulthood.
“The practice of Yoga brings us face to face with the extraordinary complexity of our own being.”-Sri Aurobindo