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Roughly 1.7 million children and teens already practice yoga. This number has grown by 400,000 in the last decade, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As children are becoming more sedentary and overly stimulated with social media, video games, smart phones, and other electronic media and devices, caretakers might be looking for ways to entice their little warriors to join the fun.
Kids can reap the same benefits from practicing yoga as adults do. After all, children need a healthy outlet to balance their lives, and yoga and mindfulness are a means to slow down the pace so they can find their center.
The top benefits of yoga for kids
The ancient art of yoga has become one of the most widely known and practiced forms of exercise and wellness. It has also found a lot of traction among families with modern, busy lifestyles. By introducing kids to yoga at an early age, you are setting the stage for a lifelong tradition of health and mindfulness. Among the top benefits:
- Yoga helps ease anxiety and stress in children.
- Practicing yoga is the ideal way to naturally unwind and engage in physical activity at the same time.
- Yoga paves the way for a lifelong tradition of health and fitness.
- Children of all ages and sizes and varying degrees of athletic abilities can practice yoga.
- Yoga is a noncompetitive form of exercise.
Making yoga fun and playful helps gets kids excited
The key to getting kids excited about yoga is to make it enjoyable! If you make yoga fun for children, their bodies will let go spontaneously, naturally relaxing and assuming the designated positions. Maintaining a light tone and intermixing games with the poses keeps young children’s attention while fulfilling the educational goal of yoga.
For example, kids can pretend that they are talking on the phone in telephone pose, and at the end of jack-in-the-box pose, after they have inhaled and lifted their heads, children can exclaim, “Pop goes the weasel!” Adapting yoga postures with imaginative play offers kids an opportunity to experience balance in our constantly changing world.
Participating in International Kids’ Yoga Day is another fun way to introduce children to yoga. This global event happens annually in the spring, and this year your little tykes can practice yoga along with tens of thousands of children all around the world on Friday, April 9. And don’t worry: No prior yoga experience is necessary to participate in this free event!
How long should kids practice yoga?
- There are no strict time parameters for practicing yoga with children; even 3 to 5 minutes a day doing some simple poses will go a long way toward establishing a routine of healthy physical activity.
- There is no magic number of poses to practice to get the most out of yoga for kids. Just sitting and breathing in easy pose can be enough yoga for one day.
- There is no definitive length of time to hold each posture. Anywhere from 8 to 15 seconds is a good place to start for young children. As kids become more proficient with the poses, they can slowly increase the time spent holding them.
Teresa Anne Power is an award-winning author and renowned yoga expert whose mission is to share strategies and tips to help children, parents, and educators enrich their lives and manage stress. She is also the founder of Kids’ Yoga Day. Her most recent book is Yoga at the Museum.