Research has demonstrated that children, as well as adults, respond well to balance exercises to increase self-esteem and treat anxiety. Movement-related interventions are also effective in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). If your child is feeling anxious or exhibiting excessive irritability and fidgeting, worrying, poor sleep, or inability to concentrate, try to practice some balancing exercises together. Anxiety in children can also manifest as physical complaints such as “tummy aches” or poor appetite. It’s important to talk with your child and foster a supportive environment where your child can express their feelings in a safe space.
Access to parks and regular physical activities is vital for children’s mental health and wellness. Due to the imposed activity restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, children have less opportunities to exercise and develop their fine-motor and gross-motor skills which are important milestones for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Impaired motor functioning can affect relationships with peers and can lead to low self-esteem.
Kids yoga is great way for children to learn about their bodies, enhance mindfulness and increase their balance coordination. Try some yoga or balancing exercise at home for a few minutes each day. This helps foster your quality time together with your child to laugh and play and engage in a shared activity that doesn’t involve a screen.
When I used to teach Kids Yoga at the Avalon Yoga Studio in Palo Alto, CA, the children in my class would always enjoy balancing sequences and I would encourage them to practice safely as well as use their imagination and creativity to develop ‘new’ poses. Tree Pose (or ‘Vrksasana’ in Sanskrit) can be done individually using a wall for support if needed or with 2 children back to back or side by side.
Here are some tips to introduce kids yoga at home:
- Safety always comes first! Make sure to explain the reason for the activity and encourage for children to stop if they feel any pain or discomfort. Have a designated yoga space that is free of toys on the floor and enough room to avoid injury.
- Give emphasis on the sensation of the pose “how does it feel if you try reaching for the stars?” rather than the desired shape.
- Play music and have some fun! Invent some new poses, and use different themes for each session, how about space explorers or animals?
- Let your child lead, and be open to suggestions for new balance poses. Parenting is a balancing act of its own, and it’s always fun to learn from our little ones!