10 Benefits of Yoga for Kids
Yoga is a practice kids can do anywhere, any time, without any equipment — plus, it’s free! Not only does yoga promote balance, strength and coordination, it also helps children improve their focus, concentration and confidence, providing a solid foundation for both physical and mental health.
Kids are natural yogis. They’re flexible, receptive, uninhibited and open to learning. Plus, their innate ability to trust in others allows them to receive the teachings of yoga and benefit from them in lasting ways.
From an early age, kids are shuttled from classes to sports to lessons and play dates, and spend endless hours on electronic screens. While we don’t necessarily think of these activities as stressful, the bustling pace and social pressures can take a toll on your little one’s well-being. Yoga offers a respite from our hurry-up-let’s-go pace, helping kids slow down, be present, and focus on being grounded in their delightfully bendy, exuberant bodies.
The benefits of yoga span from body to mind to spirit and help establish the groundwork for both emotional resilience and academic success. Here are 10 ways the practice of yoga benefits kids of all ages:
1. Yoga is non-competitive
What’s great about yoga is that it’s for every body — every shape, every size, every ability. This practice teaches kids that each person is different, and that’s perfectly okay. Yoga is all about exploring our bodies and learning from them.
2. Yoga promotes self-acceptance
Yoga teaches children to accept and value themselves exactly as they are. It helps counteract messages of comparison to others by showing them the importance of loving and accepting themselves — an invaluable tool as they fend off feelings of self-doubt throughout their tweens and teens.
3. Yoga encourages healthy habits
The sooner children engage in uplifting physical activities, the more likely they’ll be to continue them as they grow older. Yoga not promotes physical but also mental well-being, both paving the way for a lifetime of healthy habits.
4. Yoga teaches calming techniques
With yoga, relaxation is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. Through working with the breath, children learn how to relax and be still, helping them deal with stressors and pressures that are part of everyday living. Rather than crying and throwing tantrums, they learn how to focus their minds, breathe and self-soothe.
5. Yoga increases determination and perseverance
Yoga is really fun, which is one reason why kids love doing it and continuing to do it, even when they encounter challenges. As they learn poses and practice until they master them, they experience a sense of accomplishment – a powerful reminder that if they stick to something, even if it’s hard, they can achieve their goals.
6. Yoga helps refine balance and coordination
Yoga is all about balance, with poses created to promote both physical and mental poise, clarity and stability. Watch as your child tries again and again to balance, and the pride that arises after succeeding! As kids practice yoga poses, their balance and coordination improve, even as they endure physical changes and growth spurts.
7. Yoga develops focus and concentration
Yoga poses encourage kids to clear their minds and focus on the task at hand, whether it’s staying balanced, bending in a certain direction, shifting or supporting their weight in new and unfamiliar ways. The ability to focus and concentrate has proven remarkably helpful with academic studies, too, leading to greater success at school.
8. Yoga boosts self-esteem and confidence
Yoga teaches children how to persevere, be patient and work towards their goals. Mastering poses gives them a sense of confidence, boosting their self-esteem. Teachers can guide them, but ultimately it’s up to the child to put in the work, the time, the energy in order to succeed, a great lesson for life.
9. Yoga improves memory and cognitive functioning
When kids practice yoga, they are essentially honing their ability to actively focus on the task at hand, leading to improved memory because they’re grounded and mindful as they learn. This ability translates to improved cognitive functioning in school and in turn, higher academic achievement.
10. Yoga enhances sleep
When we are stressed or overwhelmed, our bodies are tense and our minds race, making it hard to fall asleep. The physical practice of yoga naturally relieves tension and the negative emotions children hold in their bodies, helping them fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep through the night.
By introducing yoga to your children at an early age, you’re equipping them with valuable tools that extend well beyond the mat. Not only will they become more coordinated, strong and flexible, they’ll also be more capable of coping with stress, change and challenges using their breath, their minds and their bodies to maintain a sense of peace, calm and well-being.