about kids' yoga * founder * how it works * benefits for kids * faqs * yoga overview * history of yoga
1. What is a good age to start yoga with my child?
Children of all ages can do yoga. Babies can start from six weeks (before that it is more important that mom and baby get to know each other, learn to work together, and rest). From six weeks on, baby yoga enhances bonding and helps babies develop body awareness. Yoga supports babies in developmental steps that lead to walking (such as pushing up from the tummy, belly crawling, hands-and-knees position, sitting, crawling, then standing). Yoga for toddlers is wonderful - modified for their quick moving bodies and minds. Older kids do yoga in a playful way, adding more detail to poses, and then tween classes go into more depth, like anatomy and meditation. Teens can practice with adults, but ideally take classes that use specific poses which best support them through the challenges of teen life. Exposing children to yoga, from the time they are babies has immense benefits through their development and provides superb gifts for their entire lives.
2. What are classes like for different ages of children?
It depends on whether it is a class for babies, tots, tykes, children, tweens, teens or families. Learn more...
3. Do I need to practice yoga in order to teach children yoga?
You don’t need prior experience in yoga to bring your children to class. If you have a positive intention to share yoga with children, you learn everything you need to build your knowledge and experience enough to enjoy and share yoga with kids successfully. Ideally, you practice yoga, since the more you practice something, the more experience you have to share. But, that said, when you come to class with a baby or young child, you will learn and know how to do yoga that is most appropriate for them. Plus, if you forget, the children will remember! When you drop off an older child, a tween or teen at class, it is not necessary to know yoga yourself, but the more you are interested in it, the more likely they will want to continue. Also, don't be surprised if they come home and teach you yoga!
4. Do I need to do yoga if I bring my child to class (where parents stay during class)?
Yes. If you have a baby, it is most helpful to work one-on-one with your child, who needs you there to feel safe enough to enjoy and explore. Also, if you are in class with younger children, please participate as best you can. One way your child learns is from you modeling appropriate actions and behaviors, so the best gift you can give your child in a yoga class is just to BE there with them and try your best; the same thing we ask of the child. Children's yoga classes are really aimed at the child, so there is no pressure on the parent or adult. The teacher guides the child and the parents go along, using positive reinforcement to support the child.
5. Which type of yoga should be taught to children and why?
There are varied ancient yoga traditions and many new styles emerging all the time. Kids’ yoga works best when it uses parts from the different traditions and styles. For example, Kundalini Yoga’s dynamic, almost aerobic movements and Celestial Communications (songs with movement) both work very well with children’s energy and help develop fine motor skills. On the other hand, certain hatha yoga poses (like Happy Baby or Dead Bug) appeal to children’s imaginations. The strongest yoga curriculum and lesson plans include pieces from varied yoga practices, choosing what works best, based on the children’s ages and developmental needs.
6. What are the benefits of yoga over other activities for children?
Yoga brings body awareness, builds strength and teaches balance. These are essential to the significant developmental steps for babies (such as pushing up from the tummy, belly crawling, being on hands-and-knees, sitting, crawling then standing and walking). Babies who do yoga work through these progressive steps successfully, giving them a strong foundation for future development as tots and kids (such as jumping, hopping, skipping, running and sports). Yoga gives toddlers and older children a chance to have fun and feel joy and vitality, while doing something physical, so they appreciate their body, health and life. It also teaches them to connect to their breath, and being able to breathe fully is one of the keystones of good health. Yoga includes relaxation and in this stressful, fast-paced world, teaching kids that it is ok to just relax is one of the best gifts they can receive. Last, yoga is non-competitive, unlike almost all other activities children do. Read more...
7. Why is it important to use actual yoga poses versus made-up poses?
Yoga poses have certain benefits, which a long legacy and history of yoga have proven. It is important for the children to do specific known poses as well as a mix of different types of poses. For example, standing poses help get the children grounded, balancing poses build strength and give courage, inversions provide a new perspective, and relaxing poses calm them down. All children benefit from the mix of poses in yoga classes, and get the most health benefits from doing them in the given order. That said, if during class, children get creative and make-up a new pose, like “sheep pose”, it is fine for them to have fun with it.
8. Will yoga work for children who are very active/hyperactive (or children who are tired/lethargic)?
Yoga’s fabulous poses work for children of any energy level. Since the angles of the body in the poses help regulate the glandular system and strengthen the nervous system, they create balance within each child. From experience, we know children’s yoga helps very active children calm down (yes, they do the relaxation at the end of class) and can help tired, lethargic children perk up (yes, they leave class, even after relaxing, with more energy). Of course, the children who come take class and practice regularly will gain more balanced energy over time; this cannot happen for some children by taking just one or two classes. The yoga teacher can work with parents to help work with each child at home as well, to support them in a fun way, so they can be more in control or more energetic.
9. Can a child with special needs do yoga?
Children’s yoga is immensely helpful for those with learning disabilities and special needs. Often the physical yoga poses, taught in fun ways with breathing and songs, allow a child to move into a position that they cannot get into if someone just tells them to do it. Then, through the body experience of connecting their coordination and action, they develop and grow. Yoga, as mentioned above, helps children find balanced energy, whether hyperactive or tired. Ideally, yoga classes successfully incorporate children with learning disabilities and some special needs. That said, children with severe special needs are ideally taught one-on-one or in very small group private sessions by a therapist or special needs yoga teacher, or they could come to class with their therapist who can make proper modifications. The yoga teacher should be contacted beforehand to discuss what will work best for each child, and may be able to refer you to specialists in your area, for those children with severe special needs who deserve more support.
10. Is it too late to start yoga with an older child?
Starting yoga at any age can only benefit the child, as yoga enhances health of the body, calms the mind and connects us to our breath, the present moment and ourselves. Awareness of self and of the world is a true gift that can be offered to any age child and developed from any age forward. Also the physical benefits of strength, balance and body symmetry benefit all ages.
11. Can yoga help children who will do sports, athletics or dance?
Yoga has immense benefits for athletic children and dancers. It helps them find joy just being in their little bodies, as they play and figure out what they can do, in a fun way. They develop body awareness and body control through yoga. The more positive body experience young children have, the more they develop very useful physical skills that will enhance their athletic abilities. From very early on, yoga helps children develop both fine motor skills (having excellent control of hands and fingers) and gross motor skills (large body movements like balancing, hopping and running), improving coordination and brain hemisphere integration. Yoga also teaches them that if they practice at something, they will get better and better – a useful skill for dance and sports. In addition, yoga’s non-competitive nature helps kids find a way to challenge themselves without pressure, to be self-aware and self-confident, so they can recognize and build their own strengths and gifts.
12. What are people talking about when they say yoga works on body, mind and spirit?
Yoga helps the physical body be strong, flexible and balanced. It also helps to calm the mind, reducing the impact of negative stress; this happens because yoga gives us new perspective but also because it enhances breathing and works on the glandular system (the machine that regulates stress hormones). Breathing is the most significant part of most yoga practices, and bringing awareness to the breath (whether you are a baby, child or adult) is quite beneficial. Noticing that our body breathes, calms the mind, relaxes us and brings us into the present moment so we don’t worry about past or future so much. Breath links the body and mind, which allows access to self. When we are aware of our own unique being, we can value our strengths, have compassion for our weaknesses, become more confident and be happier. That’s the spirit!
13. Is yoga spiritual or religious? What does that mean?
Historically, yoga evolved from varied times, places and strains of thought. Since yoga philosophy emerged early on (at least in writing) from Buddhist and Jainist thinking, then evolved over thousands of years in India, as well as Tibet, China and likely other places, like Egypt, it seems tied to Eastern religion more than Western religion. The strong influence of India in the development of yoga, as well as the varied Indian teachers who came to Europe and the U.S. to teach yoga in the mid-to-late1900s leads many people to believe that yoga is tied to Hinduism or Sikhism. Yoga, though, is not religious, and can be part of anyone’s life and/or spiritual practice. Different types of yoga and varied teachers highlight different aspects; still it is all yoga. Yoga, in Europe and the U.S. focuses much more on the physical part, poses and breath work, then on the more seemingly esoteric practices like meditation and one-pointed concentration or enlightenment. For children, the idea is that they are “playing” at yoga, getting the experience of yoga, gaining all the physical benefits, becoming aware of the breath and self, and learning to pay attention to their body, enjoy life and become conscious of the value of practice and compassion for self and others. It is interesting to note that the most accelerated growth of yoga into the daily lives of many people all around the world has been in the last fifty years and has been led by many teachers from the U.S. and Europe.