With spring around the corner, yoga for kids can be done outside!
Yoga, among other benefits, can help improve focus, memory, and self-esteem, as well as reduce anxiety and stress for all ages. The same goes for children. Classes are designed to be enjoyable and include age-appropriate games and fun poses.
Yoga practiced outdoors has even more benefits. Keep reading to find out all you need to know what your kid can gain from this great activity!
Why Choose Outdoor Yoga for Your Kid
Outdoor yoga is typically practiced in a park or an open-space area in nature. To put it simply, the most obvious advantage of outdoor yoga is the opportunity to spend time in nature. Most kids spend their days cooped up at home or sitting in class. In this day and age, more outdoor exposure for your child can do wonders for their health!
Spending time in nature is one of the most natural mood-lifters for your child and doubles as a fun health-promoting activity. Moreover, yoga helps calm and strengthen the mind, which can be better accomplished in the tranquility of nature.
Practicing yoga with your child also provides a unique opportunity to bond through play while also receiving your undivided attention as an adult, teacher, or parent. Yoga allows your child to practice pausing, breathing, and reflecting together. These methods teach them how to control their reactions and deal with stress.
Nature immersion is also beneficial to children’s immune systems and has been shown to reduce stress and build confidence. Nature and yoga work in tandem to benefit both adults and children.
Benefits of Outdoor Yoga for Kids
For young children, yoga is more than just a physical activity. Yoga can help children develop skills that will help them through adolescence and later in life.
- Yoga assists children in dealing with anxiety. It can teach children how to manage their stress, such as breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. Teaching children how to cope with stress in a healthy way is a valuable life skill that will benefit them both as children and as adults.
- Yoga helps children with emotional regulation. Another advantage of yoga for children is that it teaches them to be in the moment while relaxing and gaining a peaceful state of mind, which improves their emotional regulation.
- Yoga improves the self-esteem of children. Yoga for kids can boost their self-esteem tremendously. Young children can gain a sense of personal empowerment by perfecting a pose or improving their balance and flexibility.
- Yoga helps children develop body awareness and mindfulness. Going through a variety of yoga poses teaches children about their bodies and the movements they can perform.
- Yoga improves children’s attention and memory. One of the most significant advantages of kids’ yoga is that the various types of moves require children to focus and practice memorization skills, both of which can improve their academic performance.
- Yoga helps children develop their strength and flexibility. Yoga strengthens children’s growing bodies and improves their flexibility, lowering their risk of injury.
- Yoga teaches discipline and curbs impulsive behavior. Yoga can help to reduce disruptive behaviors in the classroom by giving children a physical outlet to express themselves. It also teaches discipline to children as they work on clearing their minds and perfecting their poses.
- Yoga can improve children’s immune systems. Yoga has also been proven to strengthen the immune system and decrease inflammation. Even more when practiced in nature.
Keep it fun!
Yoga for kids should be simple and enjoyable! The whole point of practicing yoga with your children is to lay the groundwork for mindfulness.
You don’t have to be concerned about their alignment or whether they’re striking the perfect pose. It’s best to be less concerned with form and more concerned with the activity in general. The goal is to get them moving in such a way that they are aware of their body and breathing. Here are some easy ways to encourage movement while practicing mindfulness.
Tell a story while introducing new poses
Storytelling during yoga is one way to make it more spontaneous and enjoyable for the children. You can tell them a fairy tale or story while introducing new yoga poses. You could also make one up on the spot! There are countless ways to tell your own yoga story, just be creative!
Use the story to help you decide what actions to take. You can also allow the children to contribute to the story; they have incredible imaginations, and it will be a lot of fun for them!
Let the kids lead the lesson
Children enjoy being in charge and telling adults what to do. Allow them to take the reins and lead the yoga session on occasion. You may have to create the story or offer pose suggestions at first. Allow your child to make up stories and teach you the poses as they become more familiar with the practice of yoga.
Time to relax and end the lesson
A traditional yoga practice concludes with savasana, a deep rest. Parents and caregivers must usually be a little more creative in order to encourage that final deep relaxation. You could lie down on the grass or a blanket. You could also simply relax in silence for a few moments. Another way to finish is to sit with one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach, breathing slowly.
Another gentle relaxation technique is to lie down and visualize yourself. For example, talk about the sky and clouds and at the end of the session, let them think about it for a moment. It’s also relaxing to gaze up at the clouds and watch them pass by.
What to expect during yoga for children
Yoga is yoga, but when it comes to children, you have to make it a little bit more special. It is more about how the “lessons” flow and how to keep the children interested in yoga with stories, fun poses, and games. Here are more examples of exercises and games:
Simple yoga breathing exercise
- Take a deep breath in and hold it for a count of three.
- Breathe out forcefully, like you’re blowing out a candle.
- Repeat this for five cycles.
Flying bird breathing exercise
- Stand tall, with arms at your sides and feet hip-width apart in a standing pose.
- Imagine being a beautiful, strong bird.
- Pretend to prepare to fly by inhaling and raising your arms (“wings”) until your palms touch overhead. Keep your arms straight.
- Exhale slowly as you bring your arms back down to your sides, palms facing down.
- Repeat in a steady motion with each breath. Inhale as you raise your arms, and exhale as you lower your arms.
- Close your eyes as you repeat the movements with your breath, and imagine yourself flying in the sky like a bird.
- This game is an excellent warm-up exercise to increase focus.
- One person starts as the leader. The leader chooses a pose and shows it to the others.
- The other players copy the leader’s pose, mirroring them.
- Change the leader with each round of poses, so that everyone has a turn at being the leader.
Red Light, Green Light
- One person is chosen as the “stoplight”. He or she stands at the front of the room.
- The other players are the “cars” and start at the opposite wall.
- The stoplight starts the game by calling “green light!”
- The other players then use yoga poses to move forward. When the stoplight calls “red light!” each player needs to be in a yoga pose and remain still. Everyone takes a turn being the stoplight.
Guest Post by Patrick Bautista