We are part of a nation where childhood obesity rates have more than doubled over the past 30 years and the percentage of 6-11 year olds in the obese category rose to 18% in 2012. While some may disagree, it is clear we as adults have not done our part to encourage physical fitness and good eating habits.
60 minutes of physical activity a day is a recommended amount for children. Between sitting at school and watching TV/spending time on the computer/playing on the iPad, kids may not be getting the kind of exercise they need for heart health, diabetes prevention, and for maintaining a healthy weight.
One fun way to get exercise, promote relaxation, and stretch little muscles is by allowing the kids you love to participate in yoga. All across the country, yoga classes are popping up for toddlers all the way up to teenagers. As of 2012, just over 3 percent of kids ages 4-17 were practicing yoga in some form. A quick search of YouTube will get you an abundance of Yoga for Kids videos and you can probably find a yoga class geared toward the younger crowd not far from where you live.
The benefits of this age-old practice are evident:
- Improved breathing
- Greater concentration
- Management of emotions
- Help with behavioral problems
- Increased flexibility
5 Easy Yoga Poses For Kids (adults too!)
- Bridge: Lie on your back, bend both knees so feet are flat on the ground. Bring heels in as close to the bottom as possible and lift the hips.
- Downward Dog: Begin this pose on the hands and knees, then tuck the toes in and lift the bottom to create a triangle with the floor.
- Polar Bear Pose: Begin on the knees and sit back on heels. Spread knees apart, bend forward, and bring chest to the floor. Bring hands out in front, put fingers together, and breathe out through the mouth.
- Airplane Pose: Stand tall with toes touching, heels slightly apart. Extend arms out to the side, gain balance, breathe out and lean forward. While leaning forward, lift one leg straight behind the body, hold the pose, and return the leg to the ground. Repeat with opposite leg.
- Sunrise/Sunset: Stand up tall and take three to five deep breaths. After the final inhale, lift arms above the head, press legs and feet down to the ground, and stretch the spine toward the sky.
The effects of yoga therapy for kids with autism, ADHD, and other needs are also positive. Although there are few studies related to yoga and special needs, there have been promising results in the area of improved nonverbal communication and spatial awareness when yoga is practiced regularly.
Almost any form of exercise practiced side-by-side with a child you love will be beneficial for physical and mental health. As long as physical activity is consistent and fun, everyone can enjoy it. Get out that yoga mat and start stretching!
(Yoga poses taken from parents.com, namastekid.com, and sheknows.com.)