This week students from preschool through eighth grade at St. Anne’s School of Annapolis are celebrating “Mind Body Spirit Week” with five days of events and learning about the essential connections between what we do with our bodies, how we interact with ourselves and the world and how we take care of ourselves and others. I was lucky enough to be asked back to teach a few yoga classes with some of their young friends and then later for teachers.
Like classroom teaching, practicing yoga with children is a curious mix of joy, laughter and the unexpected. It always makes me a better person and teacher. I came armed with some lessons plans, but those were promptly pushed aside as we just responded to the energy and interests that arrived. We explored of our physical bodies on the mat and some frank discussion on mind-wandering and what it feels like to have all those big and little thoughts in our head. Oh, yes…and they eagerly shared the things that make them feel stressed (you’d be surprised!). Our brief chats concluded with some breath awareness and the immediate feedback that breathing deeply is, in their words:
- feels like you’re floating
- make me more me
From teetering tree pose to fierce planks, their asanas revealed determination, a true sense of play, friendship, and a willingness to take risks. I’m quite certain these traits carry over into other aspects of their lives. After spending several hours with these little yogis, here are 9 reasons yoga is for kids, too.
1. Yoga is for everybody because everybody has a body and everybody can breathe.2. Yoga is about self-care. It’s incredibly useful to learn how to care for yourself. Knowing your body and what you can do with it, along with when you can challenge yourself, is a life lesson.3. Yoga helps you recharge and become clear-minded. Kids, like adults, report they feel better after doing yoga and that they are then,“very calm.” The experience of relaxation that comes with a good physical yoga practice can be very profound.4. Yoga helps you cope with things like anxiety, depression, ADHD, anger, jealousy. I always feel grateful after I practice yoga. It’s also the perfect time to smile and have fun!5. Yoga is a workout, too! It really is. It helps regulate metabolism and increase self-awareness. You’re also likely to feel better about yourself.6. You can get better at the poses just like you can get better at a sport, As long as you are operating from a place of knowledge and respect for how your body works, expect improvement for yourself as you get stronger, your coordination improves, and your muscles lengthen.7. You’re so lucky to be doing yoga now. So many people say they wish they had known about yoga earlier in life. It’s really a gift to have the time and place to practice yoga. It’s a sacred time to acknowledge the blessings of our life, including our body and breath.8. The point of yoga is to remain curious about what you can do. Yoga helps you improve your mental outlook so if you’re feeling jealous, self-defeated, or envious, yoga gives you the chance to forget those methods of thinking and instead to observe and engage in your own experience.9. Seek things to do that will empower your strength of mind, body and character like yoga and not things that will disempower you (unkind friends, things that might harm you).