10 Benefits of Yoga for Your Kids
As an adult, you probably know the benefits of yoga. Yoga is great for building flexibility, strength, stamina, and resilience to psychological stress. Most people don’t realize that kids can derive the same set of benefits from yoga as adults do, however.
In this article, we’ll dive into the benefits of yoga for kids so that you’ll know how your kid can thrive by doing a few simple exercises. While you may not be able to capture the same set of benefits as your child, doing these exercises will also be beneficial for you as well.
1. Building Good Exercise Habits
Yoga is an easy way to get your child involved with daily exercise. Yoga has several benefits as far as habit-building is concerned. First, a yoga session is unlikely to leave your child exhausted. As a parent, you may seek an exercise that your child can do without requiring a nap afterward.
Working to exhaustion during exercise may be okay once in a while, but if a workout perpetually leaves your child very tired, they won’t want to exercise as much. Yoga won’t exhaust your child, but it will leave them feeling invigorated after each session.
Second, a yoga session doesn’t take very long. Some yoga sessions can take as few as 10 minutes. This short duration means that your child won’t associate yoga sessions with protracted routines, which take a lot of time and energy.
Finally, yoga is all about working within the limits of your body’s capability. When your child does a deep stretch during yoga practice, they’ll learn how to avoid hurting themselves by pushing too hard during other exercises later in their life.
In summary, yoga is excellent for your kid’s lifelong health because it builds their positive feelings towards exercise while teaching them valuable lessons about their body.
2. Building Flexibility
Adults love to use yoga to increase their flexibility, and children can experience the same benefits with daily yoga practice. There are a handful of different reasons that make building flexibility desirable for your child.
In particular, when your child does yoga on a regular basis, they can retain their pliability even as their muscles grow. This means that if your child enjoys sports which build muscle, like football, they can remain flexible by doing yoga.
Furthermore, the flexibility produced by regular yoga exercises increases your child’s resilience against getting wounded during sports or daily activities. By stretching tendons and muscle masses, your child will create slack capacity, which prevents injury.
Finally, building flexibility via yoga will help your child to retain good posture and perform daily activities with less strain.
Especially when it comes to removing the muscle knots caused by carrying a heavy backpack at school, yoga can help your child’s whole-body health.
3. Building Strength
Yoga is not known for producing muscle bulk in the same way that lifting weights might. For your child, however, yoga can be a wonderful tool for building stabilizing muscles.
These stabilizing muscles are essential for your child because they help your child to perform most physical activities.
While the biceps, triceps, deltoids, pectorals, and quadriceps won’t benefit much from regular yoga practice, the same is not true of the sartorius, latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, rectus abdominis, obliquus externus, and ischiocrurale.
These muscles aren’t frequently targeted by adults during workouts. For children, however, building these muscles is one of the most important precursors to a well-rounded body.
Yoga isn’t going to create hypertrophy in these muscles for your child or for anyone else. Yoga will, however, build the muscles that your child uses whenever they use any other major skeletal muscles.
The benefit of building these supportive muscles is that there is a lower risk of them becoming injured when your child is doing strenuous physical activity.
Furthermore, building strength in supportive muscles helps your child to get the most out of their larger skeletal muscles. Thus, while yoga won’t directly help your child to lift more weight or jump higher, it will be a positive factor assuming that they put work into their other muscles.
4. Building Stamina
Yoga builds stamina in the muscles by forcing them to contract and then relax numerous times. When your kid holds a stretch in a yoga pose for an extended period, their muscles undergo cellular changes to adapt to the stress of the stretch.
The result of these cellular changes is that the muscle will have a larger capacity to do work in the aftermath. As the cellular changes accumulate, the tissue becomes more efficient.
More efficient muscles use less energy to contract and relax. In essence, each calorie of food energy will help your child to perform slightly more muscular work if your child has been doing yoga than if they hadn’t.
Many yoga routines also incorporate breathing exercises. These breathing exercises can increase your child’s aerobic capacity when they are performed in concert with the stretching and flexing of yoga.
Importantly, breathing exercises increase your child’s stamina aerobically rather than anaerobically. By breathing deliberately while muscles are demanding more energy, your child’s lungs will become more efficient.
Once again, yoga won’t improve your child’s aerobic capacity as much as a purely aerobic activity like running. Yoga lays an effective foundation for your child’s other aerobic activities, however.
5. Improving Limb-Eye Coordination
One of the most direct benefits that your child will experience when they do yoga is improved limb-eye coordination. Limb-eye coordination includes both hand-eye coordination and also foot-eye coordination.
In fact, yoga will help your child to improve their whole-body coordination — but their limb-eye coordination will benefit the most.
Yoga improves hand-eye coordination by forcing your child to use their hands and feet to balance themselves relative to the position of the body or to participate in stretches.
Stretching frequently causes a particular sensation which helps children to identify which parts of their body are involved in each yoga motion. Typically, they also observe the body part during the stretching session.
Thus, by stretching and balancing while observing their body, your child will learn how to integrate their body’s sensations into their planned movements. The result will be that when they want to try a new motion, they will be more prepared after yoga than they would be otherwise.
On the sports field, the benefits of yoga are well-known and hard to beat. The body awareness which children build when they do yoga makes each of their steps more confident.
Furthermore, by looking at their limbs during yoga exercises, your child will learn the healthy range of motion which each of their limbs can perform. Learning this lesson will help them to avoid injury by providing an additional metric which they can use to avert risk.
6. Improving Social Skills
While yoga isn’t always a group experience, many children learn to enjoy the social experience of yoga exercises. When children do yoga in a group, they also learn how to regulate their social behaviors.
The best way to improve your child’s social skills using yoga is in a small group setting with other children. Each child will need to avoid chit chat and perform yoga positions effectively.
In other words, group yoga exercises will require your child to pay attention to their body and their movements while also learning to ignore irrelevant stimuli from their peers doing the same. For younger children, this element of the yoga routine can be especially tricky.
When your child struggles with their social regulation during yoga sessions, however, it’s a good sign. Struggling to act appropriately during yoga sessions means that your child is growing their social skills rapidly to adapt to the environment.
There probably won’t always be a convenient group of children to exercise with when your child starts to get into yoga, however. Thus, you may need to step in and be your child’s yoga partner from time to time.
A yoga experience shared between parent and child is an excellent opportunity to bond with your kids. It’s also an excellent opportunity to set a good example for your child regarding how they should act when they’re practicing yoga in a group setting with other people.
When you practice yoga with your child, you’ll show them that yoga is a fun yet intensely personal activity, which requires a specific social attitude.
If you give your child the right set of lessons about practicing yoga in a group, you might also find that their behavior in other group activities improves as a result.
The studied attention of a yoga pose could potentially help your child to sit still in a church — but only if you help them to understand that sometimes it’s essential to be silent to do a task well.
7. Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Yoga helps children to reduce their levels of anxiety because it relaxes their muscles and increases the mindfulness of their body.
When your child performs yoga regularly, they will learn about the sensations of their body and the source of those sensations within each of their muscles. This means that your child will learn what their muscles feel like when they are tense and when they are relaxed.
Thus, when your child is feeling anxiety but may not have the emotional intelligence to express it, they may be able to understand that they are anxious because they will feel that their muscles are tense.
When your child feels that their muscles are tense, they can then relax themselves by performing an additional session of yoga. Importantly this means that yoga teaches your child a robust and healthy method to regulate their emotions.
There is also some evidence which suggests that yoga protects children from experiencing anxiety in the first place. This effect appears to be especially true when your child is facing stress from routine experiences like tests at school.
Therefore, yoga has both a physiological and a psychological impact when it comes to reducing levels of anxiety.
8. Building Self-Esteem
Yoga is an excellent tool for building your child’s self-esteem because it helps your child to feel comfortable and graceful in their body. As your child becomes increasingly adept at stretching and balancing their body, they will increase their faith in themselves.
Challenges and yoga poses, which once seemed insurmountable, will eventually be mastered by your child if they practice yoga every day. Your child can also learn to teach their yoga acumen to their friends and gain positive social rewards from being perceived as an expert.
Furthermore, when your child does yoga exercises, they generate a sense of progress as they become more and more flexible and competent.
The regular progress of an increasingly challenging yoga routine builds self-esteem by repeatedly challenging your child to do better and rewarding them with satisfaction as soon as they do.
Especially if your child is working on their abilities in other sports, yoga will help your child to keep pace with their peers.
Yoga also promotes a healthy body image, which is an essential part of self-esteem.
9. Improving Sensorimotor Integration
Sensorimotor integration refers to the ability of your child to perceive the feelings from their body and change their behavior accordingly. Yoga teaches your child to understand what their body is trying to tell them and then react accordingly.
Similarly, yoga helps your child to recruit parts of their body to help other parts which may be struggling. Children with high sensorimotor integration are better at balancing their physical demands across their muscles while also preventing injury.
Yoga is so effective at improving sensorimotor integration in children that it has been used to help children with an autism spectrum disorder, who typically struggle with extremely poor sensorimotor integration.
When your child does yoga, they will learn to process the sensations of their body and ensure that those sensations are either to their liking or more tolerable than they would be otherwise.
Especially for children who struggle with specific sensations or textures, yoga can pave the way toward a healthier interaction with the world.
Children who do yoga thus experience discomfort less intensely. They also build higher levels of baseline comfort as a result of the relaxation that yoga causes.
10. Building Concentration
Yoga is a useful tool for building focus and concentration. When your child does yoga, they need to calm their mind and do their best to make their body hold different poses. This means that your child will need to put their restlessness away, if only for a moment.
Many yoga routines also explicitly incorporate mindfulness and concentration techniques involving the breath.
When your child breathes in and out in concert with the yoga pose, they create a powerful circuit of self-regulation wherein their attention is fixed on their body rather than the ebbing and flowing of their thoughts.
Importantly, when your child focuses on their breath, they will need to constantly redirect their attention back to the rising and falling of their chest or belly.
Every time they feel that their concentration has strayed from the appropriate element of the yoga exercise, they will need to correct themselves. If they don’t fix themselves, they might end up drifting off into thought and executing the pose incorrectly.
In a group setting, the threat of embarrassment surrounding improper execution of a yoga pose can be a powerful motivator to concentrate. In individual practice, yoga also teaches your child that concentration can be deeply relaxing.
When your child focuses on their breathing during a yoga session, they’ll also derive the relaxation that yoga is well-known for, even if they are trying hard.
Once your child has a lot of experience with regulating their concentration during yoga sessions, it’s only a matter of time until they start to apply the same methodology elsewhere automatically.
For children who tend to be on the hyperactive side, yoga is thus an extremely powerful technique which can help them to calm themselves and to tame their minds.
In essence, yoga is the practice of taming the mind by taming the body — and your child will be sure to appreciate this subtlety as they continue their yoga practice into adulthood.
Doing Yoga With Your Kids
Now that you know the top 10 best benefits of yoga for your kids, you’re ready to help your child get started with their first yoga routine.
Don’t try to do complicated yoga poses immediately. Instead, walk your child through the basic yoga poses, motions, stretches, and breathing techniques. Then, once they have mastered the basics, you can move on to balancing poses or challenging stretching poses.
The trick is to show your child that exercising by doing yoga is comfortable but also deeply relaxing. It’s okay to lecture your child on why yoga is so beneficial for their body in brief but keep it short. The main focus of yoga should be doing the exercises effectively, not talking about the benefits.
You’ll probably need to sit with your child during the first few exercise sessions to ensure that they’re maintaining their focus and executing the poses correctly.
Once your child catches the yoga bug, however, you may find that their appreciation of the more challenging yoga poses outmatches yours.