Yoga For All Ages
Yoga For Children:
When Should Children Start:
They can begin as early as possible, through guided play or copying adults, though structured breathing techniques should not be introduced to the under-eights. For under-eights incorporate postures and breathing exercises in games and partnerwork, interjecting appropriate exercises throughout the course of the day to help balance their energy levels.
Before you begin a yoga session with children, run through the checklist, opposite. Start by examining the environment in which you will practice. The space should be clear of furniture, with no sharp or dangerous objects lying around, and clean. It should have a comfortable temperature, and be well ventilated with fresh air so it is not stuffy, but with no drafts. Screen each child for health fitness. Ask about surgery or injuries they have had, and check for obesity, anxiety or any factor that may affect their ability to do the exercises. Gauge the group individually throughout each exercise so that it can evolve organically to suit individual needs. Because the mechanism for balance develops slowly in children, good training without force can be cultivated through one-leg balance poses, such as the Tree. Practice and teach yoga with metta (loving kindness) and ahimsa (nonviolence). There is no perfect posture, just what each child can do to their best, without overstraining or competing.
- Make sure that the space is clear of obstacles and is at a comfortable temperature.
- The floor should be firm and even. Use mats or thick blankets to avoid hard landings, slipping or pressure on the body, especially in vulnerable poses like the Shoulderstand.
- Wear loose and comfortable, nonrestricting, clothes that are made of natural fibers, if possible.
- Practice yoga on an empty stomach, waiting at least two hours after eating, and drink water afterward. However, do make sure that children are not hungry or tired before beginning.
- Preferably adults should shower before and after a yoga session, or at least wash their hands and face, as a physical and spiritual cleansing exercise. A simple hand and face washing for children is fine.
- Have variety, imagination, stories and fun in every practice. A short story that relates to a posture can be read by a child or the adult to stimulate imagination.
- Adapt the session to suit the energy level of the children.
- Always warm up first.
- Do not introduce pranayama (structured breathing exercises) to children under eight years of age, as their lungs are still developing. Instead use playful breathing techniques.
Yoga Postures For Children