Yoga for Kids, a Guest Post from Kat Lee Shull

June 6, 2017
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Leslie Dixon
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Yoga for Kids, a Guest Post from Kat Lee ShullAt a time when kids’ bodies and brains are undergoing the dramatic transition from child to adult, yoga can offer both physical and emotional support. One of the key points of all styles of yoga is being present with your body. This is especially important when one’s body is changing, doing unfamiliar things, and feeling new sensations. Yoga provides a safe space and opportunity to pause and notice what is happening without competition or judgment.

Yoga also challenges one to explore what the body can do, in strength, stretching and balance. Mastering a new pose gives one a sense of pride and accomplishment. A good yoga class for kids will keep them moving and engaged – the exercise will release natural feel-good chemicals in their bodies, improving their moods. If you enjoy yoga yourself, you might think “there is no way my child has the patience or concentration needed to attend a yoga class.” However, a kids yoga class is very different from an adult class. While the poses may be the same, the pace will be faster. The focus will be on exploring the endless variations possible rather than perfecting alignment or movement. A kids yoga class may involve working in pairs or with the group as a whole to create poses. We may play games or tell stories.

In addition to the movement there is also time to connect with the body, the breath and the mind. That can happen as we find our balance in Tree Pose, move with the breath in a twist, or follow a guided meditation at the end of class. Becoming aware of what effects different poses have – forward bends calm, back bends energize – gives kids tools to self-regulate their physical, mental and emotional states. Anxiety before a test could be lessened with some deep breathing. A standing back arch before giving a presentation in front of the class could increase confidence. Simply knowing and having experience with how moving the body and breath can change one’s mental and emotional state gives a powerful sense of self-mastery.

Yoga classes are a great way to learn, have fun with your friends and make new friends. Some studios offer classes just for kids or family classes where all ages can do yoga together. A kids’ class might also be offered at the same time as an adult class. Kind Karma Family Yoga in Lake Forest offers all these options. Not everyone can make it to classes though, so there are books and videos that can help you do some yoga on your own. One of my favorite books is Yoga for Children by Swati and Rajiv Chanchani. It includes stories of how the poses got their names and illustrations of how to get into the poses, as well as sequences of poses to follow for practice. Another approach is a card deck, which you can mix and match to create your own sequences to follow. One that I like is Yoga and Mindfulness Practices for Children by Jennifer Cohen Harper.

Yoga offers the same benefits of a healthy body and calm mind to children as well as adults. A yoga class geared specifically to the energy and attention span of children will allow them to have a good experience and keep coming back for more!

Kat Lee Shull is a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher who has been teaching for 12 years and practicing for 18 years. Her students span the range from her 98-year-old grandfather to the 8-10 year-olds in her STAR WARS Yoga classes. You can find Kat’s schedule and the studios where she teaches at her website yogakat.net. For kids classes check out Kind Karma Family Yoga at kindkarma.com.

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