By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Yoga can impact kids in a number of positive ways. Yoga teaches kids how to control their bodies, and how to channel energy and emotions in positive ways. Children who practice yoga are strong and flexible, but they also receive some cognitive benefits. Yoga improves kids’ concentration, focus, and listening skills. A kids Yoga class provides many opportunities for children to listen.
Each time an instructor introduces a new Yoga posture, the students must listen carefully to the cues. While they are hearing the verbal cues, they must move their bodies to imitate the pose. This requires focus and good listening. Students also get the opportunity to listen attentively when they practice familiar Yoga poses to make sure they are getting the benefits of each posture.
Kids’ Yoga instructors employ many strategies to engage children and make Yoga fun and interesting. One of the most common strategies used by instructors is incorporating stories into class. Stories can help teach poses and philosophies while holding kids’ interest. Children are easily engaged in lively stories, allowing them to practice listening without even realizing it. When stories become familiar to kids, many Yoga teachers give them the opportunity to act them out with their bodies or retell them in their own words, which also helps develop and improve listening.
One of the most valuable types of listening that children are exposed to through Hatha Yoga is listening to themselves. This is not a skill to be taken lightly, as so many kids sail through life without really thinking for themselves or listening to their inner voices. Too many kids “go with the flow,” which can cause them to make poor decisions and get into trouble at school or home.
Yoga and meditation teach kids to go within themselves for a time to listen to their bodies and minds. Through meditation, they can recognize negative thoughts and energy within the body and release them. They learn to pay close attention to how each pose makes them feel, then adjust their bodies accordingly.
Music and Games
Kids Yoga classes incorporate all types of music, from energizing to calming. Listening to the music and feeling the beats and pulses are another way for kids to sharpen listening skills. Games are a natural part of a kids’ Yoga class. Many games center around active listening. Students must listen to a partner and follow their lead, listen to music and freeze when it stops, or listen to the sounds of their environment without the sense of sight.
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