Natural Born Yogis

Why children need Yoga as much as adults do

I loved Primary School. It never really felt like we were doing work. Days were full of adventure and exploring. Teachers were always being silly. I remember my English teacher Mr. Durant once dressed up as a Mummy on Halloween and hid in the cupboard. He jumped out just as we were being told a scary story. We were terrified and thrilled all at the same time. Summers we spent outside building dens and acting out spectacular and often extravagant stories. I was covered in dirt with scraped knees and didn’t have a care in the world. I didn’t know what stress was let alone the meaning of the word.

Today I was teaching in a school working with children who are telling me they have anxiety and are stressed. They have SATS, tests, the teachers aren’t allowed to have any physical contact with them and most of them spend their leisure time in front of screens. What happened to childhood and innocence and those carefree days?

I can keep harping on about the good old days but Yoga is all about being in the moment right? So give young people Yoga and see them light up and laugh and play. I think play is the key ingredient here;

“One of the great gifts of life is to know how to play. When we are young, most of us know how to do this. As we get older, something of the joy dies and reality sets our course to things more grim. Yet a small fire may glow on, deep inside, and occasionally flicker up. In a moment we are young again, we laugh and the world looks brighter.” from Child Play by Peter Slade

One of the things I always say to children is that Yoga helps us shine brighter. Often in relaxation I ask them to imagine they have a light inside and explain that this light shines better on some days than on others. If we are ill or tired it might not be giving out much light. If we are angry and our body is tense its stopping that light from shining through. It gets blocked. we cant feel it and others cant see it.  When we are relaxed and happy it shines brightly. Children understand Yoga. They get it straight away. Especially at Primary School age. I always teach them how they can change their breath and they experience this. One of the best exercises you can teach to anyone is how to slow down and deepen their breathing. This has a massive impact. You are giving them back control and reassuring them that they can change how they feel and its so simple. Yoga is especially great for kids because they can all do it. With the pressure on young people these days this is so important. Feedback from one of the girls ( aged 10) after doing a few sun salutes and breathing exercises.

” I feel like everything else has gone blank.I can just forget about it all. I feel relaxed.” 

Kids don’t need any encouragement to play and explore, be daft and move. We always play some games. One boy commented

Yoga is great.. I didn’t realise we were gonna play games. I thought it would be boring. Its not its really fun.”

I don’t ever remember being bored as a child and we didn’t have the internet!!! Over stimulation from screens ultimately leads to dependency on them and an inability to self soothe and lean on our own mental resources. Children these days just don’t move enough. I don’t think I ever stopped moving apart from when I was reading ( which I did do a massive amount of). Four critical factors important to child development are touch, human connection, movement and exposure to nature. Are we failing our kids both at school and at home? What impact is this having?Tactile stimulation received through touching, hugging and play is critical for the development of praxis, or planned movement patterns. Touch also activates the parasympathetic system lowering cortisol, adrenalin and anxiety. Nature and “green space” has not only a calming influence on children, but also is attention restorative and promotes learning. Whilst some areas are being under stimulated the auditory and visual systems are becoming overloaded. This creates problems in neurological development. Young children who are exposed to violence in video games and on TV are in a high state of adrenalin and stress as the body does not know that what it is experiencing isn’t real. The sensory system becomes hyper vigilant.

Children need Yoga, breathing techniques and relaxation as much as adults do if they are to survive in a western, tech obsessed world. Technology isn’t going to be slowing down anytime soon. We should be encouraging screen free days for kids and adults. if you are a parent and a yogi get your yoga mat out and share Yoga with your kids. Whatever their age. silly. Children should be in the moment, not worrying about the future and if you let them guide you they will show you the way. They are the true Yogis, lets help them stay that way.

Kids Yoga runs at the studio on Mondays 4.15pm to 5.15pm.

If you want Yoga in your school contact nichi on [email protected]

If you are interested in Teaching Yoga to Children check out our Yoga Teacher Trainning course which encompasses a Kids Yoga elective.

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