14 years old I went to my first yoga class with my dad. I remember getting into fits of giggles when we would do breathing exercises that to me as an awkward teenager seemed so silly and random and embarrasssinnnngggg. 10 years later in Goa, India I did my month long intensive teacher training course to become an ashtanga yoga instructor myself. Doing those same cleansing breath exercises and making the same embarrassing noises, with 25 others all working doing the same. To an outsider it must of looked like a mad house. But these ancient traditions all have great purpose behind them. All healing and cleansing both your body and mind in simple yet effective ways.
Yoga has gone crazy in the last 10 years. There are yoga classes here there and everywhere. New styles and practices have even being created, all trying to jump on the bandwagon. To me, grown adults are old enough and educated enough to make their own decisions about what they do with their own bodies. However children are the future and sadly there is a growing number of youngsters who have no interest in using their amazing blank canvases of a body to their full potential. Distractions of screens of all shapes and sizes have filled up a gap in which children would release their inner energy and flow.
Ever since I was a teenager I have loved working with kids, I just get them. Newborn babies not so much, I was never particularly maternal growing up like some girls with dollys, but when it came to just throwing your inhibitions out the window and being a big kid, that is my idea of fun… Maybe I just love being able to let out my inner child that is locked away in all of us. There is no judgement with children, they are just these observant sponges that are so easily influenced by whatever is going on around them. For this reason, I felt it was my duty to share the magic and beauty of yoga with our next generation. Because although some great things are happening at the moment, we’ve got to admit that a lot of us adults are pretty muted and have become weirdly destructive to both our own bodies and our home that is the planet we are living on.
When I was pregnant with my daughter I studied to become a kids yoga teacher. If I can do my bit in sharing even just a tiny bit of this beautiful mind and body practice to children, maybe they will do the same with each other. Its all about openly sharing isn’t it really. Sharing a positive thought, giving someone a compliment, offering help, or teaching something positive. Surely that’s what its all about as these humans that are able to communicate with each other. I think we should communicate with love (or at least try, easier said than done sometimes).
The benefits of children doing yoga are endless but to name a few off the top of my head:
- Teaches body awareness.
- Enhances concentration (which we know they all need in this increasingly distracting world).
- Increases self esteem.
- Helps with present moment awareness
- Encourages kind and happy interactions with other children.
- Sparks creativity in their ripe imaginations.
- Helps give them physical strength and flexibility.
- Teaches discipline and responsibility.
Practising yoga has no competition involved, each child is on their own journey, no matter what shape or size or stage of develpoment a child can be included. You cant be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at practising yoga. Not like football or athletics or many other physical education activities. It is such a natural way for a child to creatively express their bodies and get some exercise. I am so glad that yoga for children is becoming more and more mainstream. I also love the fact that it is something that parents and children can do together at home. It can be a rainy day, costs no money, you can turn it into a magical story and just have fun with it. There are some beautiful teachers out there… If you haven’t already, why not give it a go?! As my dad always says… Just get your mat out!