how children can benefit from yoga

Yoga for children improves posture, flexibility, strength, balance and coordination. Yoga is non-competitive and helps develop social skills and imagination and increases concentration, confidence and is above all fun! Yoga for children offers a positive balance for those actively involved in sport and dance and can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Children are naturally curious and eager to learn and so classes are always varied, active, and unpredictable as well as fun.

After a school day spent mostly sitting in lessons, children need to loosen up and unwind. Typically a session starts moving parts of the body and running and jumping on the spot to let out some energy. Surya Namaskara (sun salutation) is always popular as are standing poses and balances and Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) is a firm favourite.

Back bends come easier to most children over forward bends as surprisingly many are unable to touch their toes, either in standing or seated forward bends. Today’s lifestyle and heavy use of electronic gadgets and sitting on chairs, many children are surprisingly stiff, proving that yoga for children is more essential than ever.

Children’s yoga sessions are creative; they love storytelling through poses and making up their own stories and poses and demonstrating these to each other. They are also quick to learn the Sanskrit names and are keen to repeat them out loud.

Basic awareness of the breath is introduced through simple breathing exercises, including Savasana (relaxation to finish). The response to Savasana can be varied; while some children find it challenging to close their eyes or screw them up tightly, are restless and giggling, others are ready for it, able to lie still and relax for a few minutes, unaware of any noises around them. They enjoy guided visualisation filled with positive affirmations to help them relax consciously each part of their body and feel confident and peaceful.

The classes for younger children (ages 4 – 6 and 7 – 9) are designed to be playful and fun. The aim is to introduce poses and breathing techniques gently through games and adventures. Every class is based on a theme; using the children’s imagination we discover animals, places, transport, food and fun facts combined with mindfulness exercises. The children are encouraged to interact and trust each other through partner and group poses.

The classes for older children and teenagers, while fun and creative, are quieter and structured more similarly to an adult class. Many of those actively involved in competitive sports and dance find yoga a positive counterbalance. While some may have stiff hamstrings, shoulders and upper backs and find the poses challenging, others are very flexible and hyper-extend so teachers need to watch and instruct them carefully.

Classes for children at triyoga are active, creative and varied and children are guided and encouraged to learn different yoga poses. They are divided into groups according to their age (4 – 6 years and 7 – 9 years) and learn through games and adventures empowering them with tools to relax and refocus when needed. The older children (aged 10 – 12) and teenagers, once they have developed strength and stability, can work towards a quieter practice as well as more inversions. All classes end with a restful and guided relaxation.

About Suzanne and Camille

Suzanne and Camille are both experienced yoga practitioners and teachers, DBS approved to teach children.

Suzanne has been practising Iyengar yoga for over 20 years and teaching adults since 2009 and for five years has enjoyed teaching children from age 6. On teaching children she says,“I have learnt a tremendous amount and by experiencing yoga through their eyes it has given me a different and valuable perspective.  It is rewarding to witness their enjoyment of yoga and seeing their progress, not only in poses but in their concentration, strength and self-confidence, as well as appreciating and respecting each other for who they are.”

Camille has been practising yoga for 15 years. Trained in Hatha yoga (Sivananda), she has specialised in teaching yoga and mindfulness to children, from toddlers to teenagers. She has taught more than 400 children and young people since, both in studios and schools. She is also a pregnancy and post-natal yoga teacher and a Restorative yoga teacher. She loves to create fun adventures for children to discover yoga, playing with their imagination and learning simple tools to help them feel good in their body and mind.

Suzanne teaches Teens yoga on Mondays at 5.15pm and Kids yoga for ages 10 – 12 on Thursdays at 4.15pm. Camille teaches Kids yoga on Tuesdays for ages 4 – 6 at 4.00pm and ages 7 – 9 at 5.00pm. Classes are during term time only.

 

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