The practice and participation in yoga encourages one to centre, to focus, to breathe, to relax and release. It is a sensory experience that allows your body and mind to redirect and reset itself to a place of well being and wholeness in order to engage in our lives and be our best possible self. Giving children the opportunity to learn yoga facilitates them accessing these wonderful benefits and the ability to tap into how to regulate their well being themselves. Yoga is portable and able to be practiced without any other equipment, just themselves and their breathing.
To centre oneself is to place or situate the mind and body as one. It is capturing thoughts as they come to mind and drawing them towards a particular point in the body. Facilitating this process for children through the activities and games we play in children's yoga sessions empowers them to regulate their feelings a little better and creates opportunities for learning and wellbeing. Each child's learning is ongoing and individual they will learn at their own pace. The beauty of yoga is there is no right or wrong way to do it. It's a self evolving journey that one takes whilst we do yoga. Our technique and capacity to do the poses, meditation, chants and other aspects all develop and grow and evolve the more often we practice and engage in the learning of yoga.
With the practice of yoga and the centring of your thoughts on your breathing, focus follows. Is attention and concentration problematic for your child?
Perhaps the practice of yoga may help. Yoga helps to calm the mind, to stay the thoughts in one place, soothe frayed nerve endings, put a salve onto the emotional wounds inflicted by trying to solve those maths problems or work out what those words are when you are a small person. What did that friend mean in the playground? Yoga refocuses the energy towards a soul that is full and a view of the world that comes from a place of wholeness of self. It completely changes your focus.
The breath the source of our energy. As people you can often underestimate the power of your breathing. Helping children to understand the power of the way that they are breathing, having an awareness of whether it is fast or slow and how that very action can change their feelings and how they are seeing their problems and learning is important. In children's yoga most of the types of breathing as well as poses are delivered through games and through identifying with various sounds of animals. This allows them to access existing knowledge, built by you their parents, through all those animal sounds and songs you have sung to them!
After a yoga session which can be short just 10 minutes or longer 45 to 90 minutes, the mind and body are more in sync. Your mind becomes calmer, cognition is clearer and thinking is more relaxed. It is when the mind and body is relaxed that creativity blooms. Creative thinking is always wonderfully active and my most fabulous ideas ignite after yoga poses and meditation. There is research being conducted around the benefits of yoga in reducing negative behaviours, stress and increasing well being, important factors for student achievement at school.
Through the fluid journey of centring, focusing, breathing and relaxing comes the exquisite release of the tension, stresses and feelings that the mind and body hold as a result of living life. Children experience their own troubles and worries and yoga can be a very empowering gentle way for them to be able to release these stresses and strains and let them trickle away like a wandering stream.
Yoga can bring many benefits to people and open opportunities for children to experience the health and well being that are possible. It may change their behaviour, stress levels and academic achievement. The potential flow on effects to parents as a result are the same!
The Conversation, 2018,.