This morning, I woke up excited that I was finally able to do Yoga again! Not only do I do it for myself, but it always gives me new ideas to try to use in my therapy sessions.
Yoga with kids can have many benefits. I am basing this post on personal experience rather than any scientific or educational background. Children, especially younger ones, tend to learn more concrete facts, and are able to remember and implement behaviors that have been modeled for them. Aside from the many health benefits to yoga, it can be an effective tool to teach children about discipline, impulse control and mastery of their body. For the sake of simplification, I will divide three different aspects of yoga and explain some of the benefits for each. Again, this is very simplified, and you can find many more benefits to yoga.
- Meditation: a short and relaxed period of looking at an object of your choice (i.e. candle with a child that is not too active or oppositional), to teach kids about focusing and controlling impulses. It can be used as a gateway into what the child is preoccupied with, and what s/he is thinking. Meditation also helps increase concentration and attention.
- Deep breathing: Deep breathing can be used to teach kids about psychosomatic symptoms. For example, "when we are afraid or very angry, our heart beats super fast! But we can calm our heart when we do this trick...": have the child sit down and relax then do 10-20 repetitions of deep breathing. When the child realizes that through the breathing his/her heart did slow down, they feel empowered and encouraged to try self-calming methods. Deep breathing is also inherently relaxing, so for your older and anxious/stressed child, it will be very helpful.
- Yoga poses: The idea behind it is mastering control over your body, which helps all children in general become more aware, and thus more able to express themselves. It also decreases impulsivity, and teaches discipline. It can help with adjusting posture, and with older children, can teach them about body language (how to look confident, for example).
Let's get active and reflective