Doing yoga has several health benefits. Learn some easy asanas that you and your child can do together and have fun.
By Dr Rajalaksmi Swaminathan
Yogasanas are a universally popular set of exercises that ensure the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of humans. Practising this ancient science provides numerous benefits not only for adults but also for children. Experts believe that children who are interested, can start practising yoga at around eight years of age.
In today’s competitive world, children are under a lot of pressure to perform well, not only in academics but also in sports and other extra-curricular activities. To perform well, they need to be at their best, both physically and mentally. Practising yoga helps children relax and develop the required physical and emotional strength. A research study by Amit Kauts and Neelam Sharma titled, ‘Effect of yoga on academic performance in relation to stress,’ was published in the International Journal of Yoga in 2009. It concluded that yoga helps children concentrate better on studies, and thus score better grades.
Yoga also helps children develop the ability to calm their minds and gain higher emotional stability. This is especially important in today’s scenario, when children are increasingly getting addicted to gadgets, which numbs their brains.
Above all, yoga helps children develop a healthy lifestyle by increasing creativity, stamina and confidence, and decreasing stress levels. This fact was highlighted in a research study published by Hagen et al in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry in April 2014.
Are you a working mom with no time for exercise? Check out these super poses you can do any time of the day.
Bodies of young children are naturally flexible. This helps them learn and do many yogasanas with ease. For example, they often sit in vajrasana (a pose that helps to improve digestion), stretch like a cat, or pose like a crocodile without much effort. Here are some easy-to-do and highly beneficial asanas that you can do along with your child.
1. Cat pose or Marjariasana
Cat pose or marjariasana stimulates proper breathing. It stretches the torso and the neck, brings flexibility to the spine and benefits the internal organs.
2. Bridge pose or Setu bandha sarvangasana
This pose stretches the chest, neck and back. It also calms the mind, reduces stress and depression, improves digestion, and strengthens the legs.
3. Upward-facing dog pose or Urdhva mukha svanasana
This pose strengthens the spine, opens and stretches the chest, reduces stress and fatigue, and relieves symptoms of asthma.
4. Downward-facing dog pose or Adho mukha svanasana
This pose increases oxygen levels in the body and helps to gain stability. When done properly—with heels placed on the ground, shoulders relaxed and elbows pointed outwards—this asana improves the ability to concentrate.
5. Tree pose or Vrukshasana
Most children find it difficult to quieten their mind and focus. This is the perfect pose to silence the mind and improve concentration.
6. Child’s pose or Balasana
This is the natural resting pose of children less than two years old. It is an extremely relaxing asana.
7. Mountain pose or Tadasana
This is a simple yet powerful asana. It helps to achieve correct posture and strengthens the body.
8. Intense forward-bending pose or Uttanasana
Uttanasana stretches and relaxes the hamstrings. It helps to develop flexibility and prevents injuries. It also helps in reversing the flow of blood.
9. Warrior pose or Virabhadrasana
This pose strengthens the muscles of the arms, shoulders, thighs and back.
10. Corpse pose or Savasana
Savasana is an excellent pose for guided visualisation, which relaxes the mind. You can guide children to go on an imaginary tour of their favourite place, for example, the neighbourhood park or the beach, while doing this asana. This asana helps to calm the body and mind, and relieves stress, headaches, fatigue, insomnia and mild depression.
Children learn better through games than by routine methods, which they find boring. Therefore, yoga lessons need to be tailored for them in a way they can enjoy. Also, doing yoga together can be a great way for parents to bond with their children. So, why wait? Hit the yoga mat with your child and get him to learn some very beneficial poses and have fun at the same time.
The author works with the Art of Living.
Disclaimer: Please consult your yoga instructor before trying any of these yogasanas with your child.
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