To help parents introduce yoga and meditation to their children, we asked five experts, including an author and a psychology expert, for their best advice. From embracing nature in yoga practice to making yoga and meditation relatable, these experts share their top tips and insights on the unique benefits of these practices for young minds.
- Embrace Nature in Yoga Practice
- Teach Breath Control With Imagery
- Model Behavior and Set Routine
- Start Simple and Gradually Increase
- Make Yoga and Meditation Relatable
Embrace Nature in Yoga Practice
Yoga comes from keen observation of nature. So, try taking yoga and meditation outdoors. Encourage children to notice the sounds, sights, and sensations around them.
For example, practice the tree pose together and try embodying the qualities of the surrounding trees. You could even have them hug a tree and meditate with it.
Teach them we are inhaling what the trees exhale—oxygen, and that the trees inhale what we exhale—carbon dioxide. We share this genuine connection with trees.
Practicing yoga in this way in a natural setting can foster a lifelong love for nature in children and capture the essence of yoga effortlessly.
Teach Breath Control With Imagery
One fundamental thing to teach children about yoga and meditation is how to manipulate their breath. You can do this easily with the imagery of a balloon. Pretend the child’s belly is a balloon.
The goal is to inflate the balloon on the inhale (called a belly breath or diaphragmatic breathing, which increases the opening of the diaphragm so the lungs fully open up for maximum efficiency), and to deflate the balloon on the exhale. You can also teach kids to be aware of and manipulate their breath with pinwheels, ribbons, candles, etc.
The benefits of yoga and mindfulness for children include increased body awareness, increased flexibility and strength, decreased stress and anxiety, improved emotional and behavioral regulation, increased confidence and self-esteem, improved sleep quality, enhanced concentration, and improved social skills.
Model Behavior and Set Routine
Model the behavior. Show your kids how important it is to balance effort and ease. Set a timer at the same time every day and sit quietly for five minutes.
The benefits of introducing yoga and meditation to children are immense and will affect their daily lives much faster than it would for adults!
Start Simple and Gradually Increase
One of the best tips for introducing yoga and meditation to children is to start simple. Kids tend to have shorter attention spans, so keep yoga and meditation sessions short to start. You can slowly increase their duration over time. Keep things simple and fun to get kids excited and engaged.
A major benefit of practicing yoga and meditation with children is improving their concentration. As they become better at focusing, practicing with them in longer sessions will also get easier.
Other benefits include teaching children how to recognize and regulate emotions, build confidence and self-esteem, and improve physical coordination and balance.
Make Yoga and Meditation Relatable
Introducing yoga and meditation to children can be more effective when it’s relatable to their world. Using playful poses that mimic animals or nature can be successful for yoga. As for meditation, consider using simple visualization techniques.
Ask them to imagine their favorite place or think about the sensation of a gentle breeze. Both yoga and meditation can enhance their emotional well-being and self-awareness.
Through meditation, for instance, I’ve seen children develop a deeper understanding of their feelings, learning to observe them without becoming overwhelmed, thus maintaining calmness and balance. Meanwhile, with yoga, the physical poses help them connect their minds with their bodies, building confidence and self-esteem.
Bayu Prihandito, Psychology Expert, Life Coach, and Founder, Life Architekture
Summary and Key Takeaways: Unpacking the Wisdom of the Pros
Let’s step back and distill the gold nuggets from our expert panel. The experts agree that incorporating yoga and meditation into children’s lives can yield many benefits, like better focus, emotional balance, and even improved physical coordination. Here are the collective highlights:
- Embrace Nature: Use the natural world to enrich the yoga experience.
- Teach Breath Control: Utilize imagery to make this vital aspect relatable to kids.
- Model Behavior: Kids learn by seeing. Make yoga and meditation a part of your daily routine.
- Start Simple: Initially, keep sessions short and fun, gradually increasing the time.
- Make it Relatable: Use poses and visualization techniques that resonate with children’s interests.
Our Tips: “Yogis in Training” – Cultivating Mindfulness and Flexibility in Kids
So, now that we’ve heard from the experts, here are our additional gems to sprinkle on this holistic venture of raising child yogis.
Start with Storytelling
Children love stories. You can weave little narratives around the yoga poses. For instance, while practicing the “Downward Dog,” tell a story about a playful puppy. It helps kids understand the pose better and makes it super fun!
Include Fun Props
Invest in some colorful yoga mats or fun-shaped cushions for meditation. It adds an element of playfulness and can make the kids more inclined to join you.
Regularity is Key
It’s easy to lose momentum, especially with kids. Aim to make it as routine as brushing their teeth. Consistency will pave the way for a lifelong love of yoga and meditation.
Virtual Yoga Sessions
Can’t make it to a class or the park? Use YouTube tutorials geared towards children to keep the practice going at home. Preview them first to ensure they’re appropriate and engaging for your kids.
Family Yoga Day
Dedicate one day a week for a family yoga session. It reinforces the practice, involves everyone, and is a wonderful way to spend quality family time together.
There you have it! Combined with the experts’ advice, these tips should arm you with a broad arsenal of strategies for introducing your little ones to the wonders of yoga and meditation. Happy practicing! 🧘♀️🧘♂️