Yoga For Children

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice, which has been spread all over the world, and is even being revitalized in India itself. Yoga consists of certain postures (asanas), regulated breathing techniques (pranayama), hand poses (mudras), and meditation. There is experiential knowledge on which poses are appropriate for different bodily functions. Yoga’s positive impact on the physical and mental health of individuals and their well-being has been an established truth in the ancient as well as contemporary yoga literature

Children also suffer from Stress

Recent research shows that the most stressed-out generation is the current young adults. It is common knowledge that stress can have serious health consequences. If unaddressed consistently, a high stress level could become a chronic condition, which could result in a range of health problems, including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Research indicates that stress can even contribute to the development of major illnesses such as heart disease, depression, and obesity or exacerbate existing health issues (2)

Children also suffer from bullying (at school and cyberbullying), behavioral issues, problems with attention and self-regulation , sleep disorders, obesity, computer dependency, drug abuse, and lack of school motivation, even leading to dropouts. Recent dropout rates in high schools are close to 30%, despite several years of political priority and designated measures in both the EU and the United States (US). Furthermore, schools are faced with the challenge that students (especially boys) are more attracted to the Internet, social media, and gaming than the school curriculum [cf. Ref. (3)].

Benefits of Yoga

Yuvaa vrddho ativriddho vaa vyaadhito durbalo pi vaa abhyaasaat siddhimaapnoti sarvayogeshvatandritah–Hathayoga Pradipika I: 64)

Yogi Swatmarama in the Hathayoga Pradipika, one of the classical Yoga texts gives us the assurance, “One who tirelessly practices Yoga attains success irrespective of whether they are young, old decrepit, diseased or weak”. He gives us the guarantee that Yoga improves health of all alike and wards off disease, provided we properly abide by the rules and regulations

Yoga’s benefits are so numerous, the following is only a partial list of yoga’s benefits:

Stable autonomic nervous system equilibrium ,reduced stress , promotes concentration, focus and awareness, Blood pressure control, Sound sleep, Reduced cortisol levels, Respiratory pressure control, Posture improves, Allergy and asthma symptom relief ,lower blood pressure ,Smoking cessation help , lower heart rate, spiritual growth, sense of well-being ,reduced anxiety and muscle tension ,increased strength and flexibility ,slowed aging process, energized and rejuvenates the body.

Several studies prove that yoga for children boosts focus, stress-relief, and overall happiness. Start your child with the basics in following yoga poses.

1.         Vrksasana

2.         Uttanasana

3.         AdhoMukha Svanasana

4.          Trikonasana

5.         Veerabhadrasana 1

6.         Baddha konasana

7.         Gomukhasana

8.         Dhanurasana

9.         Uttanpadasana

10.       Boat Pose

11.       Setu Bandhasana

12.       Jathara Parivriti asana

1. Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

How to do it:

Stand straight feel your weight equally on all four corners of both feet. Begin to shift the weight over to the right foot, lifting the left foot off the floor. Bend the left knee, bringing the sole of the left foot high onto the inner right thigh. Press the foot into the thigh and the thigh back into the foot. Try not to let the right hip jut out. Keep both hips squared towards the front. Focus on something that doesn’t move to help you keep your balance. Repeat the move while standing on the left foot. Beginners: If you cannot bring the left foot high inside the right thigh, bring it lower on the right leg, but be careful to avoid placing the left foot directly on the right knee. You can use the wall for balance if necessary.

2. Uttanasana

How to do it:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Spread your toes evenly on your mat. As you exhale, bend forward from your hips, keeping your back straight. With your knees straight or slightly bent, depending on your flexibility, rest your hands on a block or the ground beside your feet. Hollow out your belly. Inhale, lift and lengthen your torso. Exhale, relax and fold more deeply.

3. Adhomukha Svanasana (Downward facing Dog)

How to do it:

Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes in.

As you exhale lift the hips up, straightening the knees and elbows, form an inverted V-shape with the body. Press your hands firmly into the ground. Widen & spread through the shoulder blades. Keep the neck lengthened by touching the ears to the inner arms, don’t let it hang there. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child’s Pose.

4. Trikonasana (Triangle pose)

How to do it:

From standing position, slowly spread your legs 3-4 feet apart. Feet parallel to each other. Turn left foot out 90 degrees. Align heel of left foot with arch of right foot. Raise the hands sideways parallel to the ground while inhaling. Exhale and bend leftwards. Lower left hand to left shin. Bend in the same plane. At the same time lift your right hand upwards and fix your gaze on the fingers of your right hand. Hold the position for a few moments then inhale while resuming the standing position. Repeat the same movement from right side. The posture should be repeated two or three times on either side, with the awareness to the movements of the body.

5. Veerabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1)

How to do it:

Stand with the legs wide apart and arms spread out at shoulder length. Then, by twisting the right foot to face outwards, the right knee is gently bent in the forward direction. It is ensured that the left knee is straight and the position is sustained for about a minute with normal breathing.

6. Baddha konasana (bound angle pose)

How to do it:

Sit straight (perpendicular to the ground), slowly bend the Knees and bring the soles of your feet together at the comfortable distance from your body. Press the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop open to both sides. Hold your feet with your hands or clasp your big toes with your first two fingers. If your thighs are not touching or close to the floor then you can place a soft cushion or pillow underneath each knee for support. Focus on your breathing and the way your body contacts the floor. Hold the pose for 1-3 minutes.

7. Gomukhasana

How to do it:

Sit in dandasana (staff pose) body in “L” shape with the spine erect. The knees are bent so that the left foot goes under the right knee, to the outside of the right hip. Then the right leg goes over the left, so that the right knee stacks on top of the left. The right arm is bent and brought behind the back, while the left arm is brought over the left shoulder. Attempt to clasp fingers behind the back. Repeat same process on second side also.

8. Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

How to do it:

Lie down on your stomach with your hands on the side. Bend your knees and hold your ankles. Now inhale deeply and expand your chest. At the same time, lift the legs upwards using your hands. Arch your trunk backward and upwards along with your head and neck. When fully stretched, your shape will resemble a bow. Your thighs will be raised above the ground and you will be resting on the abdomen and the lower part of the chest alone. Hold this pose as much as you are comfortable, starting from few seconds up to 30 seconds. Gently release the pose while exhaling and rest in savasana.

9. Uttanapadasana

How to do it:

Lie down in supine position with your back on the floor. Keep your both feet and knees together and place your arms at your sides breathe normally. Exhale lift your both legs at an angle of 30 degrees from the floor. Stay and hold this pose in normal breathing from few seconds to 30 sec.

10.  Boat Pose

How to do it:

Lie down on your back with feet joined together along with arms over the head. Inhale and while exhaling lift chest up and feet off your ground about 45 degrees to the floor arms towards the feet palms facing each other. Make sure your back does not round, but stays straight throughout this pose. If you are unable to straighten your legs while raising them, try keeping your knees bent (shins parallel to the floor).Maintain your eyes, toes and fingers in one straight like while deeply breathing. Open your chest and relax your shoulders down. Maintain this pose for about 30 seconds breathe steadily and come back to the starting position.

11. Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose)

How to do it:

Lie flat on your back, arms by your sides, palms flat. Bend your knees. Place your feet hip-width apart and parallel with heels close to your sitting bones. Press down into your feet and hands and lift your hips off the mat without squeezing your glutes. Place a block below your sacrum, the triangular bone at the bottom of your spine, to minimize stress in your back.

12. Jathara Parivritti

How to do it:

Lie on your back with your legs together and extended on the floor. Stretch the arms out to the side at shoulder height. Bend the knees and bring them to the abdomen. Press the shoulders into the floor and slowly lower both knees toward the right. Lower half way, or less if you feel a pull on the lower back. Then return to center and lower halfway or less to the left. Keep the knees and ankles together, the lower abdomen active, the shoulders pressed into the floor, and the neck, jaw, face, and eyes soft and relaxed.

Savasana

This posture is done at the end of a practice and can often be coupled with guided meditation. In this pose you actively relax your whole body and release tension.

 How to do it:

Lie down on your mat. Lengthen your legs, letting your legs and feet naturally roll outward. Place your arms by your sides at a 45-degree angle, palms facing up, completely relaxed. Close your eyes and breathe normally.

References:-

1. Iyengar BKS. Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited; (2008).

2. See http://ec.europa.eu/youth/policy/eu_youth_report_en.htm

3. Nayar U, Hagen I, Nayar P, Jacobsen DY. Mental health for the media generation: balancing coping and riskiness. In: Nayar U, editor. Editor. Child and Adolescent Mental Health. New Delhi: Sage Publications; (2012). p. 96–112

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