MEDITATION & YOGA FOR KIDS: BENEFITS AND ACTIVITIES
“Meditation not only reduces stress but literally can change your brain.” – (Title of this great interview published at the Washington Post with Ph.D. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School)
Yoga (meaning the union of our body, mind, and spirit) is more than a way of exercising; it’s also a way of life and is beneficial to kids in many ways. Yoga provides a wonderful way for children to explore their bodies, hearts, and minds. It also gives them the resources to lead happier and healthier lives.
Sometimes I feel we forget that children also encounter emotional, social, and physical challenges and intentional yoga practice with breathing techniques can be incredibly valuable. There are many areas where kids of all ages benefit from the practice of Yoga:
- It enhances their flexibility, strength, and body awareness.
- It improves patience
- It refines balance and coordination.
- It develops focus and concentration.
- The sense of calmness and relaxation improves. Yoga calms the mind and body.
- It boosts self-esteem and confidence.
- It strengthens the mind-body connection.
“My Daddy is a Pretzel. Yoga for Parents and Kids” –written by Baron Baptiste and illustrated by Sophie Fatus – is a fabulous introduction to Yoga. Baron Baptiste is a world-renowned teacher who has transformed Yoga teaching in the United States and Europe with his unique brand of power Vinyasa Yoga.
“My Daddy is a Pretzel” is an innovative and enjoyable book, really fun to share with children of all ages, that brings Yoga into the family life. A child’s first book of Yoga or an excellent introduction for adults who are just venturing into meditation. The book introduces nine Yoga poses that show how the practice of Yoga relates to everyday life. All the poses proposed are child-friendly, and there are tips about practice and preparation, Yoga life, and having the right attitude.
In his introduction, Baron Baptiste explains that his “goal is to present health and virtue, not as something to possess or to have, but as something to be… “
Yoga Pretzels is also a fantastic way to introduce Yoga to your kids and spend some quality time with them. “ Yoga Pretzels. 50 Fun Yoga Activities for Kids & grownups” is written by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish, introduced by Baron Baptiste and beautifully illustrated by Sophie Fatus.
Tara Guber is the founder of Yoga Ed (directed by Leah Kalish) that develops health and wellness courses and materials that educate children, teachers, and parents about the benefits of Yoga. These 50 fun Yoga activities cards are for all ages and are divided into nine sections: breath, game, balance, stand, forward bend, backbend, twist & stretch, partner, and time in. On the back of each card, the pose is broken down into four organized steps.
I am not a Yoga expert, but Yoga has taught me, above all, to have more compassion. Perhaps fostering cooperation and compassion might be the greatest gift that we can give our children.
Update June 2018: One of our readers has recommended this great beginner’s guide to meditation. Meditation 101 covers all the basics: practices, postures, and pretty much everything in between.