WHY DO CHILDREN NEED
YOGA and MINDFULNESS?
"I wished we had Yoga in school when I was little." sighed one of my friends.
I remembered growing up in school, many of my classmates were high energy. My school offered various forms of exercises, such as racing and basket ball. These activities exercised our muscles well and trained our cardiovascular system. A few children became the stars of the sports whereas me, was actively avoiding them. I did not, still up to this day, like competition.
My life changed after I found Yoga. I like the pace of Yoga. I like the space I have on my own mat. I like, most of all, that Yoga is not competitive. While competition is healthy sometimes to create the good stress for better resilience, most often, this contemporary world neglects the other end of the equation: rest.
Mindfulness is derived from Yoga. The definition of mindfulness is the ability to integrate the mind, body, and breath, focus on the present moment with no expectations, judgements, but a feeling of welcoming.
Mindfulness doesn't have to be achieved only through Yoga. Singing, playing music, dancing, drawing, swimming, jogging or even walking outside listening to the birds can create magic feelings like being lost in the moment. Yoga is a great way to practice mindfulness.
"Studies in neuroscience, meanwhile, point to the ability of mental exercises such as mindfulness to enhance the brain circuits responsible for attention and emotion regulation." says Dr. Lidia Zylowska in her book the Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD.
We live in an overwhelmingly high-paced society. Our children's lives can be overwhelming too. There are constant noises in the classrooms, endless activities to attend, and never-ending problems to solve. Our nervous system is in a high-alert state all the time. Mindful breathing, movements, and meditation that guide people's mind through scanning the body can provide quiet space and healthy body awareness. Hence, children learn that they can relax their muscles and be still.
Some people might question the difference between Yoga and Gymnastics. The answer is that Yoga and Gymnastics have very similar movements but Yoga is low-intensity, more still, and non-competitive.
Also, there are confusions between Yoga and religion. Yoga is derived from a religious form from over five thousand years ago in India. Although Yogis have the freedom to practice religion through Yoga practice, most Western Yoga classes only focus on science-based Yoga and how it is best practiced to enhance physical and mental health. The Forest of Yoga & Play is one of them.
Being an Early Childhood Educator and a Fitness Instructor, I strive to incorporate the learning of language, math, science, life skill, and pro-social behavior into every class with the children.
To fulfill children's needs for high energy movements and creativity, my Yoga class involves a lot of play! Children are always encouraged to explore what they can do to make the poses fun and comfortable. After all, there's no one single way to practice Yoga. It is a forest of Yoga trees!
Over the past couple years, I have been practicing and experimenting Yoga poses and movements to make them fun and child friendly with the help of my daughter, Colleen. Colleen's enthusiasm and optimism inspired me to share Yoga with more children.