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While we tend to think of it exclusively as an adult activity, yoga for kids is exploding in popularity. In fact, according to a recent article from Harvard Health, up to 3% of all school-age children in the United States now practice yoga. This rise in young yoga practitioners can largely be credited to the emergence of more yoga resources, as well as a better understanding of the many benefits that yoga has for kids.

Remember, as we mentioned in our previous post on the “Benefits of Yoga for Kids”, practicing yoga can improve a child’s mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Specifically, exercise can increase cognitive function, strengthen social relationships, aid in sleep, and heighten physical fitness. And when you really consider this range of benefits, it’s no wonder that yoga among kids is becoming more common!

If you’re a yogi yourself, and you also want to get your kids into yoga, here are some tips for how to help them start the journey.

1. Tweak the length of the practice

Children are notorious for having shorter attention spans than adults. According to data from childhood development experts shared on Parents.com, children usually have an attention span equivalent to up to three minutes per year of their age. This means that a four-year-old will be focused for around six minutes, while a 12-year-old can maintain concentration for about 24 minutes.

Knowing this, it’s best to compromise with a shorter yoga practice for your kids. In this way, you can rest assured that they won’t be distracted during said practice. That said, if your child is a little older or has experience with other mindfulness activities, you can adjust the practice’s length accordingly. Over time, you’ll both find an approach that suits their ability so you can build trust and empowerment while moving towards focus and stillness.

2. Encourage them to practice regularly

Five minutes of yoga practice daily is much better than a few sporadic 30-minute sessions. This is a golden rule for yoga practitioners of all ages. It is especially true among kids though, since young children respond better to regular routines, both physically and mentally.

As shared by the NCBI, which has covered the value of establishing a routine among kids, observing a routine of wellness is critical for a child’s developing lifestyles. After all, it is through a routine that we can all create healthy habits, such as practicing yoga. In the long run, having such healthy routines and habits is said to increase holistic development in kids. For your child’s yoga, try to make the practice a habit by encouraging it at least a few times each week. Since children’s yoga is typically shorter, it’ll be pretty easy to find time for this kind of schedule.

3. Choose an appropriate yoga technique

The most ideal way to introduce your child to yoga is by meeting them where they are. This is important because it helps ease children into a mindset and state of being that’s more conducive to yoga. For instance, at ChildLight, we include visualizations, songs, stories, play, and yoga postures to help children release restless energy first.

This is particularly useful for younger children or children with conditions like attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As described on SymptomFind, ADD and ADHD result in marked hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. This means that children with this condition will find it much more difficult to stay focused or still for long. Therefore, while more advanced or traditional yoga styles may be too demanding for hyperactive children who have trouble controlling attention and behavior, by offering more “casual” and playful techniques, children can more seamlessly move towards being more focused, still, and mindful.

4. Join them in their classes

According to the CDC, a great way to get kids into a healthy activity is to join them. By making your yoga practice a bonding activity, your kids will feel more motivated and engaged. Furthermore, studies have shown that kids who have active parents are more likely to be healthier adults later on. Specifically, children who exercised with their parents were more likely to carry on these habits (while also eschewing less healthy ones like smoking or drinking). So, if you’re looking for a reason to practice yoga more or simply get into it yourself, this is the perfect opportunity!

Truly, yoga is for everyone. And just as you can never be too old to practice, you can never be too young to start. By empowering your kids with yoga, you’ll be equipping them with holistic wellness that will protect and strengthen them as they make their way through every stage of life.

For more on children’s yoga and wellness, please explore the rest of the blog here at ChildLight Education Company.

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Feature by: JBatson