20 Oktober 2020 | Gesundheit

Body, heart and mind

Helping children de-stress and relax through the use of children’s yoga

Mariselle Stofberg

The body-heart-mind virtues of yoga can play a meaningful role in shaping the lives of children of all ages.

“Children’s yoga is a topic dear to my heart. If all children were taught yoga and mindfulness, we would not only make the lives of children much easier, we would also have a much more balanced generation of adults in the future,” said Suzi Seha, a yoga instructor at Lotus Kids Yoga and Lotus Studio.

Lotus Kids is a children’s yoga and mindfulness studio that officially opened its doors in 2014, and Seha has been sharing her love of yoga with children and teens ever since.

They offer weekly classes and travel to schools to host sessions.

“We also have ‘Mindful Mornings’, a full morning workshop to teach mindfulness to children, that takes place a few times a year and is advertised on the Lotus Kids Yoga for Children Facebook page.”

“I also offer children’s yoga teacher training through YogaBeez, a UK-based Yoga School, in the hopes of spreading yoga and mindfulness further throughout Namibia,” she added.

Peaceful respite

“Children’s yoga classes teach kids self–awareness, compassion, balance, creativity and healthiness on a physical and psychological level. These are tools that, as adults, we rely on to thrive in our complicated, challenging and exciting world. Children’s yoga classes provide a fun-filled, peaceful respite from their busy schedules,” Seha added.

As the practice of yoga is non-competitive, non-judgmental and highly personal, children’s yoga classes provide them with an experience unmatched by many other activities.

“Yoga opens the hearts and minds of those who partake and the benefits spill over from the practice on the mat into the lives of the children who practice yoga.”

Seha added that children learn through participation in class and have conversations about living in a kind and harmless way.

“Conversation in class is important and I listen to the children, who often need the opportunity to talk in a safe and supported space. A lot of learning happens right there.”

Looking within

Seha said children living in the busy world are often driven by what they see their parents doing and how they see their parents living. They see and also feel the need to be constantly busy and compete in everything they do.

“Yoga provides an activity that allows them to still their minds and become present in the moment, giving the children permission to ‘look within’ and be aware of how they feel in a non-competitive environment. This is like giving breathing space to a child. It is vital for balanced development both physically and emotionally.”

Keeping children engaged

Seha goes into class with an open mind, no expectations, patience and flexibility to change her plans, because working with children means one needs to be able to adapt.

“The aim of children’s yoga and mindfulness is to introduce children to the benefits of yoga in a fun, safe and relaxing manner, developing a love for yoga and teaching a kind and harmless way of living in a way that children understand. My classes aim to ‘educate’ the whole child. I do this by having a theme to each class and bringing in interesting facts related to the theme, which always includes mindfulness,” she said.

Children’s yoga vs adult yoga

Besides the fact that her children’s yoga classes are themed and there is an emphasis on more than just the poses, a child’s body differs from an adult’s body, Seha said, adding that they cannot execute the same movement as adults.

“This must be taken into consideration when teaching a children’s yoga class. The only time we do alignment is if the child is doing something dangerous like placing weight on their head.”

Breathing is taught to children in a playful manner and not in the same way it is done for adults. Through their classes, children are made aware of the importance of breath work and breathing awareness, which can help them in their daily lives.

Benefits of yoga for children:

• Yoga promotes good posture, flexibility, strength (including a strong core), balance and co-ordination. All muscle groups are used.

• Improves motor skills.

• Helps children learn about their anatomy and benefits of the poses.

• Balances and co-ordinates the brain and body, crossing the mid-line and the upper and lower hemispheres of the body.

• Helps children cope with stress more effectively. Yoga teaches relaxation and stress management techniques.

• Become more aware of their breathing and emotions.

• Relax, sleep better and promotes a sense of peace.

• Learn to respect themselves, others and the world around them.

• Explore their imagination.

• Yoga is non-competitive and honours each child’s unique way of absorbing and integrating information. Yoga provides a space where children of all capabilities can work at their own level and pace with no pressure to ‘be the best’.

• Provides techniques to calm, quieten and sharpen the mind. The basics of meditation are taught.

• Regular practice improves concentration.

• Yoga endorses healthy choices and overall lifestyle.

• Nurtures confidence, self-esteem and acceptance, and encourages positive thinking.

• Yoga allows a child to know themselves better and help them learn to trust their instincts.

• Allows playfulness.

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