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yoga for kids
Learning more and more about the benefits of yoga, and the many types of yoga. According to mindbodygreen.com, there are several types of yoga to fit everyone’s needs to desired benefit.
There are many different types of yoga to practice, so it’s important to find out which type of yoga is right for you. Here’s a quick introduction to some of the most common and popular types of yoga:
Bikram Yoga – Get ready to practice yoga in 105 degree heat and in 40% humidity — hot! Though Bikram only has 26 poses and there’s lots of alignment work so it might be a good fit for beginners.
Hatha Yoga-Class is also likely to be focused on slow and gentle movements so it’s a great type of yoga to wind down with at night
Vinyasa Yoga-Commonly called “Vinyasa flow” or just “flow”, you’ll definitely be moving, flowing from one pose to the next. Other than starting with a sun salutation, no two classes will be alike. It’s the most popular style of yoga in America.
Kundalini Yoga-“Kundalini” refers to the energy of the Root Chakra, which surrounds the area around your lower spine. Expect lots of work in your “core” area and classes are known to be pretty intense.
Ashtanga Yoga-Commonly called Power yoga, Ashtanga is definitely physically demanding. It’s probably best suited for an ex-athlete or someone looking to really push their body.
Iyengar Yoga-Expect lots of props with this type of yoga such as blocks, harnesses, straps, and even cushions. There’s also a lot of focus on alignment so Iyengar can be great for physical therapy.
Anusara Yoga-Founded in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara is epitomized by “the celebration of the heart. Expect many “heart-opening” poses like backbends and more talking by the instructor in class.
Restorative Yoga-Looking to wind down after a long day of work? Or perhaps you want to quiet your mind? Restorative yoga might be the answer as it’s focused on relaxation.
Jivamukti Yoga-Jivamukti is mostly practiced in NYC as it was founded there in 1984 by Sharon Gannon and David Life. It’s a mix of vinyasa flow sequencing infused with chanting and a vegetarian twist.
Prenatal Yoga-If you’re an expectant mother then Prenatal yoga is probably for you. Prenatal yoga is thought to be one of the best types of exercise for moms-to-be as there’s a lot of core work and a focus on breathing. Sorry guys, this one is not for you.
Searching for a way to relax? Need a way to distress? Could you benefit from mindfulness? Do you have a child with ADD or ADHD that could use some help focusing? Have you ever considered yoga? Did you know that recent scientific research is focusing on how yoga could help kids in school. I look forward to the day that my children can practice yoga not only at home, but at school as well.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years, where it originated in India. Many people all over the world practice yoga. The Indian definition of yoga is union. So if you are practicing yoga, you are uniting the mind and your physical body. When you are able to complete this union, you should feel an overall sense of well-being, or happiness.
According to PBS.org, “There are many aspects to yoga. In short, yoga is a system of physical exercises or postures (called asanas). These asanas build strength, flexibility and confidence. Yoga is also about breathing (called pranayama), which helps calm and refresh the body and mind. We are going to focus on these basic two aspects of yoga, but there are many other parts to practicing yoga. Yoga is about exploring and learning in a fun, safe and playful way. Yoga and kids are a perfect match. Here is what children (and adults!) can learn from yoga:
- Yoga teaches us about our bodies.
When we practice the physical postures or exercises (called asanas), we learn how to move more freely and with greater ease and awareness. These postures help our bodies become strong and flexible.
- Yoga teaches us how to breathe better.
When we breathe deeply and fully (called pranayama) and become more aware, we can bring peacefulness or energy to our bodies.
- Yoga teaches us how to use our energy more effectively.
When we practice yoga, we learn how to use the life force energy in our bodies (called prana) to feel more relaxed, focused, or motivated.
- Yoga teaches us how to quiet the mind.
When we practice yoga, we learn how to be still. This helps us to listen with attention and make good decisions.
- Yoga teaches us about balance.
When we practice yoga, we learn to be more aware about the need for balance in our lives. This could mean equal stretching on the left and right sides of our bodies or making sure we balance our very busy time with equal quiet time and relaxation.
- Yoga teaches us to be the “boss” of our bodies.
Yoga teaches us to listen to our bodies by modifying or changing poses that are too hard or cause pain. (We will talk about how to modify poses in a later section.)
- Yoga teaches us about taking care of ourselves.
Yoga is a great way to move our bodies and feel healthy, and teaching children how to take care of themselves is one way to show love. As with all forms of exercise, a good yoga practice can mean a good night’s sleep!”
As I previously stated, I cannot wait for the day that a mindful course of yoga is taught at my children’s schools. The pleasure I see in their eyes and the calmness I see and feel in their bodies, when they practice yoga at home…is indescribable. To see that taught as a daily practice at school would open doors and minds to learning. Once that union between the mind and body is met, it will only make retaining the information being taught, that much easier. I honestly believe that if children can find that mindful connection, they will love to learn, and be truly happy doing it. Lets all encourage yoga in schools, and at the very least, practice it at home with your children! It’s an incredible connection.
A recent article on MindBodyGreen, caught my eye, as it gives tips on how to raise calm, happy social kids. Who doesn’t want that right? The purpose of the article is to get parents to be mindful and teach their children how to be mindful. 8 Ways To Raise Calm, Happy Kids & Boost Their Social Skills, was written by Sean Grover, LCSW, author of When Kids Call the Shots. Mr Grover has worked in child development and adult psychotherapy for 20 years, and maintains one of the largest private group therapy practices in the U.S. He has been quoted in Newsweek, New York Magazine, NPR, and elsewhere about parent-child relationships.
Teaching children to be mindful can have a direct impact on many areas of their lives. Mindfulness improves social skills, boosts school performance, fosters creativity, reduces impulsivity in children and can encourage them to be independent thinkers. What parent doesn’t want to see the best in their child shine through? It is our job to guide children and give them the tools they need to succeed in life, at all stages. I think that Mr. Grover shares great advice on how to give children the best guidance…number 8 is critical: mindful parent, mindful child. Enjoy this excerpt from his MBG article:
8 Ways to Raise More Mindful Children
Raising a mindful child does not require moving your family to a monastery. I’ve seen parents foster it in everyday activities by creating more reflective spaces at home, making room for greater contemplation, and strengthening family communication.
To encourage greater mindfulness with your own kids, consider these eight steps:
1. Take technology blackouts.
Set aside times during the day when no one in your family touches technology. You too, mom and dad! That’s right: turn off all cell phones, televisions, computers, etc.
Children who are always engaged in technology are more impulsive and rarely have time for self-reflection, which is the bedrock of mindfulness. If your family is technology dependent, create more quiet space for relating and exchanging thoughts and feelings without a glowing screen between you.
2. Offer creative outlets.
Painting, drawing, playing a musical instrument, sewing, and similar hobbies require thought and patience to follow through to completion. Children who learn to sit quietly and assert themselves to creative tasks are more grounded and self-motivated to succeed. They learn to work through frustration by keeping their eye on the prize.
3. Encourage journal writing.
Journaling is a great tool for developing greater mindfulness. If your child is resistant to starting a diary, start one together. A sense of calm and empowerment emerges when kids take time to create a narrative for their lives and reflect on their daily experiences. A diary also offers them a chance to consider their choices more fully.
4. Hold family meetings.
Family meetings are a great way to introduce structure to household communication. Set aside a time each week, and make sure everyone has the chance to voice his or her concerns. When family members learn to honor each other’s feelings and work through frustrations together, a healthy sense of trust and cohesion emerges.
5. Cultivate a meditative practice.
Studies have shown that kids who engage in a mindfulness practice, such as martial arts, yoga, or meditation, experience a greater sense of well-being. They instinctively start to embrace a spirit of self-improvement, which leads to greater inner strength.
6. Nurture altruistic activities.
True mindfulness lives and breathes in the compassionate bonds of friendship and community. Help your child develop a greater sense of interconnectedness through volunteer work, charity or supporting neighborhood projects. Altruism deepens your child’s sense of humanity, gratitude and empathy.
7. Organize your child’s day.
Kids crave sameness. Even though they may resist boundaries, they fall apart without structure. Strive to create a household of shared responsibilities and dependable schedules. Flexibility is welcome, but you need a baseline of consistency first. Too much chaos or inconsistency in a child’s life never allow for mindfulness to take root.
8. Lead by example.
Mindful parent, mindful child. In other words, mindfulness rarely appears organically in children — parents must foster it. What’s the best way to introduce mindfulness into your kid’s life? Practice what you preach. Develop a mindfulness practice for yourself and demonstrate its power in your own behavior.