7 Ways to Convince Your Child To Choose Yoga Over Gym

Yoga may seem old-fashioned and boring for your hep youngster, but its benefits are fantastic and far-reaching. Here are seven reasons why you must convince your child to try it out.

By Jasmine Kaur and Arun Sharma

7 Ways to Convince Your Child To Choose Yoga Over Gym

Of late, 14-year-old Akshay is increasingly focused on his fitness and his appearance. The teen looks up exercise videos often and does weight-training on his own. At mealtimes, he peppers his conversation with how many calories he has burnt, how intense his workouts are, and so on. "Feel my muscles," he tells his parents, to their amusement. One morning, his father Shekhar gives him a yoga mat, and asks him to try surya namaskar with him, instead. "That will be so easy for me," declares Akshay, but is bemused to find that he cannot hold the yoga postures and that his breathing is not in sync. Nor is he able to bend as flexibly as his father. The teen watches with renewed respect, as Shekhar does his sun salutation in a fluid, easy manner. 

Akshay is not alone. Many youngsters think yoga is "not cool enough". They do not realise that yoga is not just a workout, it is a holistic approach to health and harmony. It is about integrating the mind, body and soul. 

As a parent, are you also finding it hard to convince your child to try yoga? Well, we can help you demystify yoga to your child and help him understand why it is the in-thing today. Perhaps, a little conversation along the following lines might help!

What is Yoga?

In simple terms, yoga involves the voluntary control of breath, performing slow body movements and striking certain poses or asanas. But yoga isn’t limited to burning calories, increasing flexibility, and improving the range of motion. It has positive effects on the mind as well. Yoga calms the mind, improves concentration and sharpens focus. It also helps us deal with issues like stress and anxiety. So, the all-round benefits an individual can derive from yoga are immense.

Now you know why and how yoga is beneficial. But, is your youngster convinced? Well then, here are a few more reasons:

  1. Yoga is popular: The increase in the number of gyms may make it appear that circuit training, cross fit and other fancy workouts are the most popular exercise routines today. But, is that really true? Not really. Don’t believe us? Many celebrities like Shilpa Shetty Kundra, David Beckham, Justin Langer and Kareena Kapoor Khan swear by the benefits of yoga. In fact, yoga is as popular as any other modern-day exercise regimen. What's more, yoga studios and yoga retreats are opening up in most cities and at exotic locations worldwide.
  2. Yoga is fashionable: Yoga has always been looked upon as something that is antiquated and unfashionable. Nothing can be further from the truth today. From trendy yoga wear to hip yogis, the world of yoga is becoming chic and debonair. Reputed brands now produce and market a range of yoga wear that is both comfortable and fashionable.
  3. Yoga is empowering and transforming: While most exercise regimens focus on building strength and power, yoga is all about empowerment and transformation. Bending to stretch a little more or holding your position a few seconds longer, teaches you not to give up but keep going. It challenges and strengthens both the body and the mind. Working towards achieving your goal of performing and perfecting an asana transforms you from being a quitter to an achiever.
  4. Yoga can heal: Peer pressure, academic demands and high expectations are making children feel increasingly stressed and depressed. This, in turn, leads to elevated cortisol levels. In such a scenario, yoga can be a boon. According to a study by Thirthalli et al, entitled: ‘Cortisol and anti-depressant effects of yoga’, published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry (2013), “...yoga may act at the level of the hypothalamus by its ‘anti-stress’ effects (reducing the cortisol) to bring about relief in depression.”
  5. Yoga connects the body with the spirit: Yoga is not only an exercise regimen but also food for the soul. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains to Arjuna that the goal of yoga is to help an individual find the purpose and meaning of life through self-realisation.
  6. Yoga is fun to do: The usual notion is that yoga should be performed in seclusion. This can makes doing yoga seem boring. But, that isn’t the case at all. Along with connecting with your inner self, you can also connect with your partner through yoga. There are many yoga poses that you can do with your partner to share moments of togetherness and fun.
  7. Yoga pumps up your happiness quotient: Serotonin is one of the key happiness hormones and is believed to influence and elevate the mood. In several scientific studies, it has been found that yoga and meditation increase the level of serotonin to make us feel good.

It must be clear to you now that yoga can help achieve balance in life. More important, it is good for your youngster too. But while you are trying to initiate your little one into yoga, do keep in mind what Yoga Guru Suneel Singh has to say:

“There is no particular age to start yoga. It is best to begin from childhood. A great tip when practising yoga with your children is to utilise postures that resemble animals to help pique their interest. But keep in mind that children are naturally more flexible than adults and, may not realise when they are overextending themselves. Yoga instructors and parents should be aware of potential muscle and joint strains or injuries. They must teach children to listen to their bodies and stop if a pose is uncomfortable. They must teach children to stretch slowly and breathe deeply, and never force themselves into a pose.”

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