Although many people may not think of Yoga as child-friendly, most studios offer classes for youth; especially since scientific studies have concluded that Yoga practice leads to improved grades in school and decreased behavioral problems in children.
One reason for these positive results of Yoga practice, in children, is that the Yoga practice improves the physical body and it also contributes to better overall mental and emotional health. With the exploding numbers of children who are diagnosed each year with ADHD, or other anxiety and behavior disorders, Yoga offers a safe, healthy alternative to siphon off excess energy while providing practitioners with coping and anxiety-blocking tools that improve mental health.
Yoga can benefit healthy children, too, especially very active and creative young people. A typical Yoga session for kids includes a faster-paced warm-up that is usually flow-based to begin the series, and this slowly transitions into a quieter, more meditative pose series to allow deeper, physical stretching and increased mental focus.
Relaxation Techniques for Children
As the session begins to wind down, some children have a difficult time transitioning from a fun and fast style of Yoga into a slower, quieter style. The importance of this cool-down series cannot be underestimated. Children should leave their Yoga practice more relaxed, physically and mentally, and this cannot be accomplished if the class is unable to settle down.
Techniques, to help kids relax in Yoga, include storytelling, which can be adapted in many ways to the slower pace necessary for relaxation. Stories can be read at a more leisurely tempo, with an altered or hushed tone of voice. This method can even serve as a subconscious signal to the children that it is time to slow and quiet down.
Another excellent suggestion for better relaxation is to engage the children’s imaginations. A Yoga session, that consistently ends with a trip into an imaginary or solitary place that kids imagine, under an Yoga teacher’s direction, can help them release stress or worry. Some Yoga instructors direct children to think about putting each of their problems into an imagined hiding place, like a cookie jar in their grandparents’ home. A method like this, allows young people a feeling of control over troubling situations in their lives.
The best way an instructor can help kids relax in a Yoga class is to direct the energies of their bodies by engaging their minds. Once children make the transition from the faster-paced Yoga, that usually leads off their session, they can leave their practice relaxed and ready for anything.