Just as yoga and mindfulness can be beneficial to adults, they can also be useful tools for children. You may even be using them without realizing: prompting your child to “take a deep breath” when they are upset or frustrated is the beginning of helping them engage in a strategy like yoga or mindfulness.
Yoga is a very powerful tool, and especially when introduced early, it supports children in developing their strength, focus, emotional, and self-regulation skills. In fact, according to research, a strong social and emotional foundation in early childhood powerfully impacts children’s later positive attitudes and behaviors, their academic performance, career path, and adult health outcomes. Mindfulness has also been shown to benefit young children.
So how does a busy parent incorporate yoga and mindfulness into their child’s life?
- Try a mindful minute: Explain to your child that you are going to do a “mindful minute” together. Set a one-minute timer and sit in silence with your little one. Ask them to listen to what they can hear, smell, and see during that minute. And don’t be stressed if they cannot make it the full minute to start – it takes time to learn to be mindful.
- Try deep breathing: With children, it can be helpful to introduce breathing with visuals. For example, you can try a “flower breath:” as you breath in, open your hands, and as you exhale, close your hands. Or you can try deep breathing like different animals: inhale normally and then exhale with the sound their favorite animal.
- Try a yoga pose: Look online at different yoga poses and practice them throughout the week. Try a new pose each week and combine it a few deep breaths.
- Try a children’s book on yoga: Look for a book on yoga for little ones. Some of our favorites include: Zoo Zen by Kristen Fischer, ABC Yoga by Christiane Engel, You Are a Lion by Tae-eun Yoo, Rachel’s Day in the Garden by Giselle Shardlow, Goodnight Yoga by Genevieve Cote, and I Am Yoga by Susan Verde.
The key to learning new skills like yoga and mindfulness is to start small and introduce things slowly. Just as we need time to learn these skills as adults, children do, too. Try one idea and incorporate it into your lives; you just might find that breathing together helps everyone calm down, little ones and grown-ups alike!
By: Holly Knaus, MSCP