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May/June 2013
35
Health
Essentially proper breathing, exercise and
deep relaxation may be the powerful healing
force needed for today’s kids as through yoga,
children are able to maintain their flexibility,
develop strength, sleep better, improve their
levels of concentration and perform to their
full potential at home and in school. The
combination of breathing, posture work
and relaxation/visualisation techniques help
children to gain in self- confidence and come
to terms with many of the physical and mental
developmental changes they may be facing in
these early years.
Self-Discipline
Kids who do yoga also learn to infuse a sense
of self discipline into their daily lives without
it being harsh or boring. El-Imam adds, “Yoga
teaches children to have fun and move their
bodies in a con-competitive environment and
it is not about being right or wrong, or being
best or worst.” There is no competition or ego
but it is about bringing unity to one’s own life
as yoga for kids teaches self-discipline as well.
“As part of the practice of yoga, kids need to
slow down, hold certain postures, breathe or
think in a certain way,” she notes and yoga
encourages children to master themselves
rather than wait for an adult to control them.
Awareness
In today’s world, too many children are at
risk of being disenfranchised. Internet and
video games can substitute for meaningful
real-life connections. Yoga brings kids into
the present moment, their own vitality and
the community. Yoga for kids, says El-Imam,
also enhances self-awareness. “Children who
practice yoga learn early on to tune into
their bodies,” she says and also self-esteem
is increased as the children gain control
over their bodies and minds. Balancing
postures like Tree Pose (standing on one leg),
airplane pose and eagle pose are challenging
Empathy
According to Yogawoman expert
Shana Meyerson, the founder of ‘mini
yogis yoga for kids’ in Los Angeles,
yoga helps build self-esteem and self-
respect. A child’s yoga practice is a
rare opportunity to do something
without ever having to worry about
being wrong. “Yoga promotes physical
strength, encouraging children to use
all of their muscles in new ways,” she
says and this is great for non-athletic
children who typically shy away from
physical activity in fear of failure or
being picked last. And best of all, in
yoga, children learn to take turns, to be
nice, and to respect others.
Melissa Jones from Dubai
says that when her 8-year-
old daughter Kelly began
acting up in school and
paying less attention to her
studies, she opted to enrol
her in yoga rather than
swimming or ballet classes.
Melissa elaborates, “I
have done yoga myself for
several years to help myself
calm down and feel better.
I searched online for a kids
yoga class for Kelly and
enrolled her. In less than
two months I have seen a
tremendous change in her
habits. Her manners and
even her concentration level
have gone up. The best part
is that she actually enjoys
the classes...”
Like adults, kids benefit from regular practices
that promote health and emotional balance.
Yoga can empower children and teens alike as
well as imbibe empathy and compassion and
it’s no surprise that most children respond
with enthusiasm. According to founder of
Yogalates Bliss in Dubai and children’s yoga
instructor Noura El-Imam, the benefits of
yoga for children are holistic and children
actually experience many of the same physical
benefits adults do from practicing yoga. “Yoga
strengthens children and helps them become
more coordinated, more flexible and helps
build overall endurance and core strength
without even realising it,” she explains. “By
practicing yoga, children learn how take
control of the stress in their lives; a child
worried about a test, for instance, might use
the meditation or breathing techniques of yoga
to help her calm down and focus.”
and rewarding at the same time when
they accomplish a balance pose fully, they
become ecstatic and this promotes self-focus,
confidence and strength, she says and points
out that yoga for kids can also be a way to
strengthen families. “Yoga is an exercise that
parents and children and even grandparents
can practice and talk about together,” she says
and as children participate in yoga with their
families, they feel closer to their loved ones
and show them what they’ve learned from
their yoga practice of the day...sometimes even
teaching their parents how to do yoga hence,
self-confidence is built.
H