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Yoga for Kids … It’s Child’s Play!

Introducing Christine Bohonos, certified Yoga for Kids teacher.  Christine has been teaching yoga to both adults and children for over 4 years now and lives in Stoney Creek, Ontario where she is the owner of Cobra Yoga,  www.cobrayoga.com      Christine shares with us the benefits of yoga and play for children. So grab a cup of tea, sit back and have a read…

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing yoga … rolling my spine down the hill at the side of my childhood house, or doing the splitz on the kitchen floor while my mother baked chocolate chip cookies from scratch.

But why yoga, and why am I so thrilled about sharing this ancient practice with others?  The many benefits of course, and I see them happening both on and off the mat.

On the mat, children experience improved circulation and flexibility in their bodies adding to a healthier lifestyle.  They also experience a calmness of mind which relieves stress, anxiety and a host of other health issues, but where I really see the affects of yoga come into play is off the mat, when the spirit soars in amazing ways.  Take for instance the child who has been practicing yoga and while in class, he or she learns a meditation to help deal with inner anger.  Then at home they hear their parents or older siblings fighting and they’re able to go to a quiet place, close their eyes and meditate on those feelings of anger.  Or the child who learns how to breathe long and deep and then practices this for a few minutes each night before bed to help them sleep.

Another benefit of yoga is that it inspires creativity just like play does, and when I’m teaching a kid’s yoga class, play is my top priority.

Children need opportunities both to play with other children and to play on their own. When two or more children are together many different games are possible.  In a child’s yoga class, games are often a part of the structure allowing the child to practice partner poses and explore their own creativity and imagination.

Play and physical activity within a kids’ yoga class fosters …

  •  Self esteem and confidence:  Think warrior or the archer pose.  In these poses the child stands tall.  Energy grounds their feet down strongly into the mat, while the opposing energy from their torso and arms extends up and out  — just like a Warrior ready for battle.
  • Team work:   Think partner poses like kissing tree and row your boat.  Take some time out at the end of your busy day and do these poses with your child.  For Kissing tree you both get into tree pose and then join your hands up above.  As soon as you have your balance you kiss each other on the cheek.  Working on balance together calls for teamwork.  Or sit down in a wide legged stretch and join hands across the middle.  Take turns bending forward and then bending back and don’t let go.  Row that boat to the shoreline!  Rowing a boat together takes teamwork.
  • Body awareness:   Think poses like seated forward bend and eye circles.  A child starts to become body aware around the age of 6-years-old and yoga helps to make this awareness positive rather than negative.  Before getting into a seated forward bend, many yoga teachers will ask the kids to grab hold of the fleshy parts of their behinds and pull them out to the sides.  This is so that we can feel our ischial tuberosity’s, or our sitz bones.  Kids love to learn about body parts and how they work.  They also love the funny feeling of rolling their eyes around in circles with their eyelids closed.  Normally we don’t take the time to think about our eyes and the important function of sight and navigation that they give to us.  Tip for parents:  This is good for you too, especially if you stare at a computer screen all day long J

So what’s it going to be?  Will you be suiting up with the kids this fall for a family yoga class?  Perhaps a power yoga class for yourself while your child experiences a Storytelling Yoga class down the hall (most yoga studios offer kid’s classes at the same time as adult ones so check your local yoga studio’s schedule)

Until next time … Namaste (the light in me salutes the light in you). 

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